Imagine you’re happily coupled up in a wonderful relationship that you find satisfying and fulfilling. Now, imagine that your partner tells you they love you, but they’re no longer in love with you, or that they’re seeing someone else, or that they want out of the relationship. How might you feel? Worried? Upset? Devastated? Betrayed? Confused? Angry? Brokenhearted? Now, imagine that you’re naturally anxious or depressed but you are in a relationship with someone who can calm you in the storm, will have your back and support you, can bring you back from the edge, and can understand you even in the midst of your emotional pain. If relationship distress can have a negative impact on our emotional and physical health, can’t it be possible that secure relationships can have a positive impact on our emotional and physical health? Research and revolutionary science of romantic love is now suggesting that secure bonds are vital when we are struggling.
So, you may be thinking about marriage or couples counseling and have started looking for a therapist. Finding the right fit can be confusing and sometimes a bit of a challenge, especially if you don't know what to expect. Many clients are nervous that when they finally do meet with their therapist, they will be met with some kind of fate about the relationship and that they will possibly hear something they don't want to. This is extremely normal and common for many individuals and couples pursuing therapy. If you're wondering if a therapist will tell you what to do regarding your relationship, then we have an answer for you.
We begin serious relationships and marriages with the intention that it will last forever. We are hopeful, excited, in love. There is honesty, good communication, passion. We think it will always be this way. So, when you realize that your relationship is not what it used to be or not what you hoped it would turn out like, we naturally begin to ask ourselves “is this as good as it gets?” I get it. It seems like you’ve tried everything and nothing works. It may feel like your partner doesn’t communicate well, or doesn’t understand you, or doesn’t even care to change. You may begin to feel like you’re miserable and can’t help but wonder if it will always be this way or how much longer you can do this, eventually asking yourself “should I stay in this relationship or end it?” Can you relate to this? If so, here are a few tips to consider to help you make your decision.
Considering couples therapy or new to the counseling process? It is normal to be scared and nervous if you’ve never done it before and don’t know what to expect, or if you’ve been to counseling before but are now working with a new therapist.It would likely be helpful if you had some insight to what really happens in couples therapy. While each therapist may be a bit different in their approach, this is just an idea of what it could look like based on how things go when I work with couples. Here is some of what you can expect if you are considering couples therapy.
Christmas is quickly approaching. Sometimes the season is a little more exhilarating for some more than others. But nonetheless, we live in a culture where we are expected be cheery, delightful, spirited, and excited about the holiday craze. Before we know it, we find ourselves deciding what people we will be buying gifts for, what we will buy them, and how much we will spend on them. Sometimes, even those of us with the best of intentions can find ourselves thinking things like this:
“I’m not spending much on so-and-so this year...they always buy me a crappy gift.”
“They never spend as much on me as I do on them.”
“I’m not buying them anything this year because they never bother getting me anything. Why should I care?”
Many of the couples I work with adopt this same mindset, but it persists throughout the year rather than just popping up at Christmas time. I often hear couples saying things like this:
“He never apologizes first, so I’m not going to either.”
“She never tells me what she wants in the bedroom, so I don’t tell her either.”
“He hurt me, and I want him to hurt back.”
“I’m going to treat him like he treats me and see how he likes that.”
“I gave the kids a bath and got them to bed last time. If you don’t do it tonight, I’m not going to help you when you need it.”
“I will have sex with you if you give me something in return.”
The problem with this mindset is that it is tit-for-tat, becoming cumbersome, burdensome, and full of rigidity, ultimately harboring anger, resentment, or breeding contempt in the relationship. The thing we often forget about love is that we have to give it the space to be genuine, authentic, and vulnerable. This means, we have to be willing to give without a guarantee we will get something in return. If we do things only hoping we will get something back, this becomes less of an intimate relationship and more of a scoresheet...a game where there is clearly a winner and a loser. Love cannot be spiteful or vindictive.
So, this holiday season, may we remember to give without the expectation of receiving. May we act with integrity and give the gift we truly want to give instead of the gift we should give. May we treat others the way we WANT to be treated, rather than reflecting to them the way they already treat us.
If this sounds like you, or you feel your relationship is looking more like a scoresheet, consider working with a therapist. A trained therapist will be happy to help you get out of the rut and figure out how to give and receive more love without anger or fighting. It is possible to feel more loved and appreciated in your relationship.
Call today at 678-796-8255 and let’s see if we can work together or schedule an appointment online.