Our relationship with our spouse/partner is one of the closest relationships we will have in life. The connection that bonds us together can be likened in depth and intensity to the parent-child bond as it is similarly built on safety, intimacy, affection, support, and comfort.
No wonder it hurts so much when this kind of a relationship is threatened with conflict. Partners often respond differently to conflict. One may become closed off or withdrawn while the other anxiously attempts to talk the problem out. These responses often become a pattern used to reduce tension and stabilize the relationship, however, it rarely works and tends to fuel conflict causing the relationship to become stuck.
When your relationship becomes stuck, you may have a hard time feeling close and enjoying your time with each other. Many couples find themselves repeating the same arguments, but never coming to an understanding. Sometimes disagreements spiral out of control and create new areas of conflict or wounds. Feeling misunderstood, judged, criticized, unloved or cared for can cause the relationship to lose its spark and cause partners to become emotionally withdrawn from one another.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone and there is good reason to hope. With couples counseling, commitment, and hard work, you and your partner can get back on track and rebuild a loving, close relationship.
Many couples come into therapy because of problems with communication, not feeling heard or understood by one another. What we know is that couples tend to develop a pattern of communication they use to discuss upsetting issues. We will work to figure out what the pattern is and dig deeper to understand the effect it has on each one of you. You will learn to identify the pattern that is intensifying the conflict and be able to change it when it occurs. You will learn how to express your feelings and needs without causing the other to become reactive or withdrawn. The skills you develop will help you feel more secure and safe when discussing conflicts. Together, you will identify what each other needs to feel important, loved, and cared for so that you can have a strong, trusting connection that will naturally bring back the closeness you desire.
Oftentimes, one partner will want to get help for the relationship by going into counseling while the other may say they “are not interested in going” or “don’t believe in therapy”. This can be very discouraging if you are the partner who wants help. You may find it beneficial to go to individual therapy as working on yourself can drastically improve the relationship for both of you. Changes you make within yourself can go a long way to improving things between you and may encourage your partner to join you in.