It's harder than you thought.
You are having fights you are embarrassed to tell your friends about. You are up at night worrying about what is happening to your relationship. You have lost confidence in the connection with your partner that once felt unbreakable. Being in a committed relationship is difficult. We each have different needs when it comes to how we connect and feel secure in a relationship and it is all too easy to fall into patterns where we feel threatened and rejected by our spouse and anxious about the ability of our marriage to last. And then there are the stressors of life transitions, communication differences, jobs, parenting, money, etc.. These factors can further challenge relationships, especially if you don't have a solid sense of what keeps your relationship strong and a set of tools to help deal with these challenges. When our connection falters, we find ourselves acting and reacting with anger, blame, emotional withdrawal, or sadness. The truth is, riding these waves with your partner can make you stronger and more connected and these times of disconnection don't have to last forever. Couples therapy can help get you back on track--feeling secure in your relationship, clear in your direction, and confident about your decisions. By exploring your relationship in therapy you can become an expert on your partner as well as yourself. You can find ways to take care of each other as well as express your own needs and you can feel confident that your relationship is strong enough to ride the rollercoaster that is life.
Ugh. Couples therapy.
You might feel reluctant to start therapy, and I can understand why. It is a big commitment of time and money and it's scary and uncomfortable. You are, after all, bringing your most personal, most intimate relationship out its private sphere and sharing it with a perfect stranger. For many of us, sharing what is going on in our relationship means exposing a side of us that can be ugly, vulnerable, childlike, mean, needy, petty or just plain not-at-our-best. It is no walk in the park to bring this part of yourself to therapy and this is a huge reason why most couples wait too long to start therapy. They use therapy as a last resort or when their unhappiness has grown to such levels that they are willing to try anything. The truth is, it is totally normal for ugly parts of ourselves to surface in the context of our committed relationships. I welcome these parts. The moment you and your partner begin to learn to talk about and understand what is going on within each of you during these ugly moments, you are on the road to permanently strengthening your relationship and solidifying your ability to connect deeply with each other. There is no better investment in your health and happiness than to have a thriving relationship. And while entering therapy can be difficult and uncomfortable, many couples wind up actually enjoying therapy as they begin to experience the pleasure of feeling truly connected within their relationship. Don't make the mistake of waiting too long to start. Therapy is not a last resort. It is a preventative tool and an enriching experience to get more happiness, pleasure, and pride out of your relationship. In fact, although I love working with couples in conflict, I am also passionate about working with premarital couples and pre- and post natal couples--to help strengthen and grow your relationship during these huge life transitions.
Couples in conflict.
When you are in conflict with your partner it can seem like your world is crumbling. The love and support you thought you shared seems to have vanished. You think your partner no longer cares about you, you wonder if your love for your partner can ever been restored. Conflicts with our partner can trigger some of our most primitive feelings. We feel rage, despair, and hopelessness. And we also feel shut down, shut off, and done with caring. This roller coaster of huge desperate emotions and cold hostile emotions are trademarks of our attachment systems being activated. In a committed relationship or marriage, we depend on our partner and feel vulnerable with them. The feelings of dependency and vulnerability stir up our attachment stuff. What is our attachment stuff? This is the stuff that that is wired into our brains about the importance of and the risks to becoming attached to someone--and this is very complicated for each of us. It unearths some of our most primitive emotions and our most sturdy defenses. It is very difficult, if not impossible to untangle these emotions and defenses and the tangled dynamics that they create without a third party to help observe, interpret and guide you to a place of mutual understanding where you can learn to regulate each other and yourselves. As a couples therapist this is my job and my passion. I will work with you diligently and with passion to fight for your connection and allow you to soften to each other again.
I can't get my partner to do couples therapy.
It is common that one partner has some strong resistance to doing couples therapy. Don't panic. Sometimes one member of a couple is worried that they will be blamed or held responsible for the state of things. They might feel shame about rehashing behavior or events that are embarrassing or hurtful. They might have grown up in a family with strict (spoken or unspoken) rules around talking to strangers about "family matters." They may worry that therapy will just be a vent session or that they will be told they have to change. I really sympathize with these concerns and fears and think they are a great starting point for a dialogue about whether couples therapy is right for you. If you can get your partner to call me I would love to explore his or her reservations about therapy and also explore how to resolve the dilemma that one of you wants to do couples therapy and one of you does not! If you are feeling unsure about couples therapy, take a risk. Give me a call and let's explore a bit more to see if it could be helpful for you. Lastly, If you absolutely can not get your partner to come in for couples therapy, give me a call and we can discuss whether individual therapy would be a helpful first step.
SERVICES FOR COUPLES IN BOULDER, CO:
Couples Therapy -- Couples sessions are 60 minutes long (with longer sessions also available). You will find these sessions to be engaging and you'll always leave with something to work on, think about or explore. We will work deeply and efficiently to reach your goals. $135 for a 1 hour session.
The Tune Up -- A three hour focused session for couples who know they need to sort some things out, but can't fit weekly couples therapy in their schedule (or are in a hurry to get things started). The "Tune Up" will address where you are in your relationship and the pressing issues you are facing. Couples must have at least one 60 minute session prior to scheduling a Tune Up.
We're Getting Married -- Strengthen your marriage even before it has begun! We'll take a focused look at your relationship, your goals, your dreams, and your fears. We'll explore the family dynamics that will be at play when you blend your two extended families, we'll identify what keeps your relationship strong, as well as any "hot spots" that need special attention. Depending on you and your needs, we can also look at communication skills and styles, your conflict styles (as well as learn how to fight well together), and stressors related to planning your wedding.
And Baby Makes Three -- If you are expecting a baby or have a newborn, you are probably expecting things in your relationship to change. But how? And how can you be prepared? The majority of couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction after the birth of their first child, but you don't have to. I offer focused supportive counseling for new and expecting parents. New parents are welcome to bring infants to sessions. By prioritizing and reflecting on your relationship during this time of change, you build a stronger, healthier family in which to raise your child.
If you are a couple in Boulder, Colorado and feeling distressed about your relationship and think you could use couples therapy to get things back on track, click below to call or email to schedule a free 20 minute phone consultation. You'll feel relieved to know that you are prioritizing the most important relationship in your life. We can start today confronting the challenges you are having and bringing joy and connection back into your marriage.