Switch to Accessible Site
A healthy relationshipis within your reach
Couple Smiling at Each Other

Relationship Help Blog 3

 

Relationship Help for Couples in Conflict – Part 3

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

Are you deliberating whether to remain in your relationship or not? People often start individual or couples counseling because they’re unable to resolve this dilemma on their own.

Is This a “Deal Breaker” or an Opportunity to Love More Unconditionally?

Sometimes in individual or couples therapy people say there’s something about their partner they can’t accept. They may decide this is a “deal breaker,” or they may discover a reservoir of acceptance within themselves they didn’t know they had and learn to love their partner more unconditionally than ever before.

We can all benefit from making more space in our hearts for everyone’s shortcomings, including our own. Individual and couples counseling often help people realize that they haven’t been particularly bothered by their own foibles, whereas they’ve been acutely annoyed by their partner’s foibles. This can be a real eye-opener.

Therapy, Couples Counseling, Relationship Counseling, Lafayette, Danville, Walnut Creek, Concord, Martinez, San Ramon

Relationship therapy helps people love more unconditionally

Practice Seeing Your Partner as “Cute” Despite Obvious Areas for Growth

You know you’re making progress towards loving your partner more unconditionally when you see him or her as “cute” despite obvious areas for growth. Because we naturally tend to feel unconditional love for young children, we often see them as adorable despite glaring personality flaws. But as a couples therapist, I’ve noticed that people are sometimes much less willing to extend unconditional love to their partner than they are to young children, even though human beings of all ages have character flaws and frequently make mistakes.

Of course, it takes practice to see your partner as “cute” despite his or her shortcomings. Individual or couples therapy can help tremendously with this, but here are some ways you can practice on your own. When you notice a foible in your partner, you can remind yourself of his or her good qualities so you’ll have a more balanced perspective. Or, you can recall your own areas for growth and remind yourself that we all have personality flaws. Or, you can increase your tolerance by remembering that your partner was a child once, has encountered many difficulties in life, and will die someday.

The Most Effective Relationship Help Begins With a Change in Your Perspective

These shifts in your thinking can help you give feedback in a way that your partner is more likely to receive well. You’ll feel better about how you respond to your partner’s shortcomings, and your partner might even make some adjustments to boot. So, as always, the most effective relationship help begins with a change in your perspective, which in turn prompts you to adopt new behaviors that may have a positive domino effect on your partner.

Stay tuned for part 4.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Relationship Help for Couples in Conflict – Part 2

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

As long as you continue to be dissatisfied with some aspect of your partner’s behavior, conflict will ensue in the relationship. Couples therapy can help you communicate your needs to your partner in a respectful manner. It can also clarify how flexible your partner is regarding those needs, and help you recognize that you may be clinging to vain hope that your partner will make a desired change. If this becomes evident, couples counseling can help you decide how to proceed.

The Definition of Insanity is Trying to Change Your Partner’s Behavior Over and Over

Let’s say you’ve politely asked your partner many times to adjust some behavior, and your requests have had no impact. How long do you want to keep getting upset about this? As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” Yet many people get irritated over and over by some aspect of their partner’s behavior even though they’ve repeatedly asked their partner to change that behavior in a courteous manner with no results. Individual and couples counseling help people recognize that some things will never change so they can stop the “insanity” of continually reacting negatively to those things and trying to change them.

If I buy a clock and discover later that the clock face doesn’t glow in the dark, is the clock at fault, or the one who chose the clock? Well, obviously the one who chose the clock since I could have considered clocks more carefully before making my selection. And once I discover that I didn’t choose a glow in the dark clock, there’s certainly no point in pressuring the clock to develop this trait. I can either exchange the clock for one that glows in the dark, complain that my clock doesn’t glow in the dark (even though no amount of complaining will ever change this), or make peace with my clock and forever stop complaining about my choice of clocks.

Therapy, Couples Counseling, Relationship Counseling, Lafayette, Danville, Walnut Creek, Concord, Martinez, San Ramon

Relationship therapy helps people be more realistic

Most People Change Slowly At Best, So Don’t Hold Your Breath

Now, you may say that a clock is an inanimate object and your partner is not. However, in my experience as an individual and couples therapist, most people change slowly at best. So, if you’ve respectfully asked your partner on several occasions to make some behavioral change and nothing has shifted, that change could take years or may never happen.

It’s important to be realistic about the fact that most people have a rather limited ability to change. A good reality check that I suggest in individual and couples therapy is asking oneself with total honesty, “How quickly am I generally able to change my character flaws?” If you’re like most people, your answer will help you be much more realistic about your partner’s ability to make behavioral changes.

Stay tuned for part 3.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Relationship Help for Couples in Conflict – Part 1

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

A typical scenario in couples counseling is that one partner sees the other as being inflexible in some way, but doesn’t see his or her own inflexibility in the situation. It can be instructive to look at this scenario through the eyes of a couples therapist.

Let’s say your partner has a fixed position regarding some issue and you feel he or she is being unreasonable. If you keep expressing frustration, hurt, etc. regarding this, and keep pressuring him or her to change, your position is actually rigid, too. Your partner’s position is basically, “I’m not going to make the change you want me to make,” and your position is, essentially, “I’m not willing to accept the fact that you’re not going to make that change, so I’m going to continue reacting negatively in the hopes that you will.” Is one partner’s inflexibility really any better than the other’s? From the couples counselor’s perspective, neither partner is being adaptive.

Adaptability is Crucial to Your “Emotional Survival” in the Arena of Intimate Relationships 

Just as adaptability is central to each species’ physical survival, our adaptability regarding intimate relationships greatly affects our “emotional survival.” If we sufficiently adapt in this arena of life, we’ll feel better emotionally. Individual or couples counseling helps people become more adaptive when it comes to romantic relationships and thereby enhance their emotional survival. However, if we’re not adaptive enough in this area of life, we’ll continue to feel agitated, unhappy, and so forth, and our emotional survival will be affected.

Therapy, Couples Counseling, Relationship Counseling, Lafayette, Danville, Walnut Creek, Concord, Martinez, San Ramon

Relationship therapy can increase your “emotional survival”

One example of adapting with respect to intimate relationships is leaving a relationship if it’s causing you a lot of emotional pain. This is a significant change from the status quo, and allows for the possibility of achieving a happier relationship elsewhere. Exiting the stressful situation can also increase your emotional survival. Individual or couples therapy helps people make this transition with greater ease than they might on their own.

Another way of adapting in regards to intimate relationships is accepting some aspect of your partner’s behavior that you previously didn’t accept, instead of continuing to feel angry, sad, etc. This is also a big shift from the status quo because it can lead to a more harmonious relationship and greater emotional survival. Individual or couples counseling supports people in making this tremendous leap in how they view their partner.

Your “Stuck” Position Harms You and Your Partner

In contrast, if your partner has consistently been unable or unwilling to change some behavior, and you continue to feel frustrated, hurt, etc. and keep trying to influence your partner to change that behavior, you’re not being very adaptive. By maintaining this “stuck” position, you’re causing yourself and your partner a lot of grief. This stance is also contrary to your physical survival given the impact that negative emotions have on our health. Individual or couples therapy helps people step out of this no-win position and tap into their innate reservoir of adaptability so they can achieve greater emotional survival.

Stay tuned for part 2.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Couples Therapy Can Be a Transformative and Rewarding Process – Part 7

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

In my personal experience, couples therapy transforms relationships by bringing about profound shifts in the way people think and act.

Casting Rigid Expectations to the Winds and Choosing Unconditional Love Instead

As you may recall from the last blog post, by the time my partner and I had been dating for two or three years, I had assembled an army of reasons to get married soon. And the couples therapist whom we saw, turned that army to dust in a single session. Not that I was cured of my fixed perspectives in just one session.

I pondered leaving the relationship once couples counseling clarified that my partner’s ambivalence towards marriage wasn’t going to budge anytime soon. Considering leaving was very instructive, because once I consciously decided to stay rather than leave, I grasped that I wasn’t a “victim” of the circumstances in my relationship.

Thanks to couples therapy, I recognized that if I CHOSE to remain in the relationship, there was no point in doing so unless I was willing to fully embrace the relationship just as it was, without expecting it to be something different. Otherwise, if I chose to remain in the relationship and wanted it to be something other than it was, I wasn’t really choosing thatrelationship, but a fairy tale in my head that had nothing to do with reality. I gradually decided that the incredible bond I had with this man was more important than my rigid expectation that we would get married, so I cast that expectation to the winds.

Relationship Help

Couples therapy transforms relationships

My, How Our Relationship Has Changed since I’ve Changed!

I’m not saying that I stopped wanting to marry my partner, but I followed the advice of the couples therapist by enjoying the relationship as it was, not bringing up the subject of marriage, and making an effort to avoid dwelling on thoughts about marriage. Nine years after we started dating, my partner proposed to me. (I said ‘Yes!’) One year later, we got married. Looking back, I have no regrets about the way things unfolded because I learned to love more unconditionally and let go of stubborn ideas about the way things should be. And, as our couples counselor foresaw, when my partner proposed to me with all his heart, I was deeply moved and would not have wanted him to propose any sooner.

Choose the Relationship “As Is” or Choose “Not” the Relationship

Don’t get me wrong. My husband has made sacrifices in this relationship that absolutely parallel mine. Also, I’m not suggesting that choosing to remain in a relationship is always the right answer. It greatly depends on the situation and the people involved. The point, as our couples therapist often said, is that “we can choose the relationship or we can choose not the relationship.” If we choose the relationship, let’s make sure we’re choosing the relationship that’s right in front of us, in its “as is” condition, rather than choosing a fiction in our heads that we hope the outer relationship will conform to.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Couples Therapy Can Be a Transformative and Rewarding Process – Part 6

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

Intimate relationships inevitably cause us to grow, and couples therapy helps ease our growing pains by clarifying lessons we need to learn. Couples counseling taught me that if I chose to remain in my relationship, I was choosing to fully accept the relationship just as it was. Otherwise, I would not have been choosing that relationship, but a fictional idea in my head about how the relationship should be.

Couples Counseling Challenges Our Rigid Beliefs about the Way Things Should Be

Before I became a therapist, my partner and I sought couples counseling. We had been dating for two or three years, and I felt it was time to consider getting married. However, my partner had a strong aversion to the word “marriage” because he had gone through a difficult divorce and didn’t want to risk going through something like that again. We got into arguments because I didn’t want to wait indefinitely to get married, and he didn’t know when he would be ready to get married or if he ever wanted to marry again.

The couples counselor gently chided me by saying, “I bet you could find lots of guys to marry you.” I said I wanted to stay with my partner. He responded that the only way to have a happy relationship with my partner was to enjoy the relationship in its current form, stop bringing up marriage, and let go of concerns about whether we’ll ever get married. I countered, “Why does it have to be his way rather than my way?” He explained that if you’re driving with someone who likes the volume of the radio low and you prefer the volume high, the volume needs to remain low.

The couples therapist also pointed out that if my partner proposed to me because he felt pressured to do so, it wouldn’t be completely heartfelt, and that I would probably prefer that he propose when he feels truly inspired to do so. I reluctantly agreed that this was true.

Relationship Help

Couples therapy offers new perspectives

The Inner Battle with My Fixed Ways of Looking at Things

Deep down, I knew the couples counselor was right, but my head was spinning because my rigid concepts were being challenged. I felt I had found my soul mate, and given that things were going so well in the relationship, in my mind, the next logical step was getting married. I also had this notion that I had somehow “paid my dues” by dating him for two or three years, and should now be “rewarded” with marriage. On top of this, I had a belief that the younger I was, the more “marketable” I was as a mate, so if he wasn’t going to make a commitment to me, perhaps I should move on. I was afraid I would be less “marketable” if I decided to leave later on because he had never married me.

Now, these ideas may sound silly, but I took them very seriously at the time.

Stay tuned for the remainder of this story in part 7.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Couples Therapy Can Be a Transformative and Rewarding Process – Part 5

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

Is there something you’ve respectfully asked your partner to change on numerous occasions, to no avail? Couples counseling can help you take a new approach altogether so you don’t have to continue feeling exasperated.

Re-claiming the Power of Choice You Had All Along

In my work as a relationship therapist, I’ve noticed that people often get into committed relationships without knowing the other person’s character well enough. Later on, they discover things they’d like their mate to change, and frequently express dissatisfaction with him or her. It’s easy to feel annoyed with someone else’s behavior and harder to admit to ourselves that we may have mistakenly chosen the wrong partner.

Couples counseling can help clients take responsibility for the fact that they chose to be in their current relationship, and thus can “un-choose” that relationship at any time. In other words, they can choose to leave the relationship. Alternatively, they can choose to make peace with aspects of their partner’s behavior that he or she is unable or unwilling to change. Or, they can choose to make themselves and their mate miserable by perpetually clinging to the hope that their partner will change if they complain more.

The word “choice” is very important in both individual and couples therapy. People often express dissatisfaction in therapy regarding things that probably aren’t going to change much. Up to a point, it’s very helpful to work through these negative feelings. But, eventually, the mature approach is to take responsibility for having chosen the situation (this partner, job, etc.) rather than feeling disgruntled with the partner, job, etc. they chose. Maturity allows one to take responsibility for creating his or her life experience.  In contrast, immaturity causes people to blame others, circumstances, the government, etc. for their apparent “rotten deal” in life.

Peace of Mind

Couples therapy can shift your focus to what you can change

Is It Time to Trade In the Potentially Futile Project For Peace of Mind?

You might ask, “Well, can’t I choose to keep influencing my partner to change this behavior?” Absolutely. However, if you were in couples therapy, a counselor might point out that you have complete freedom to make changes involving yourself (for example, to accept some aspect of your partner’s behavior that hasn’t budged much, or end the relationship). In contrast, your ability to bring about change in your partner is extremely limited or non-existent. Can you sincerely say that you’ve respectfully requested on several occasions that your mate modify some aspect of his or her behavior? If so, why continue investing energy in a project that may be entirely futile?

Accepting something about your partner is not the same as agreeing with that behavior. It’s a matter of accepting that, currently, this is not something your partner is willing or able to change. As the Serenity Prayer says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”  Reinhold Niebuhr’s words help us replace mental agitation with peace of mind, by focusing our attention on what we can change rather than what we can’t.

Stay tuned for part 6.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Couples Therapy Can Be a Transformative and Rewarding Process – Part 4

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

Do some of your partner’s behaviors make you feel that he or she doesn’t care about you enough? People often voice concerns like this in couples therapy since it’s human nature to want to feel sufficiently loved by one’s partner.

Assigning Meaning That Probably Doesn’t Exist

When people see their partner’s undesirable behaviors as evidence that he or she doesn’t care enough about them, they tend to feel a host of negative emotions, which they often direct at their partner. In turn, their partner is likely to respond negatively, and the chain reaction that ensues will probably take the couple farther and farther from resolution.

Couples counseling can help clients realize that their partner’s errors usually don’t indicate a lack of caring, even though they may have erroneously interpreted their partner’s foibles this way in the past. The reality is that, when one partner makes a mistake or does something unconscious, it’s usually not due to lack of caring for the other person, but is simply indicative of where that person is in his or her personal growth.

When you think your partner’s mistakes indicate that he or she doesn’t love you enough, you’re assigning a meaning to your partner’s errors that probably doesn’t exist, and, as we just saw, that meaning sets off a negative domino effect in the relationship. Couples therapy can help dispel the erroneous meaning that people often attribute to their partner’s shortcomings so that couples can avoid new conflicts and heal the wounds of previous conflicts.

The Amazing Benefits of Not Taking Your Partner’s Foibles Personally

Rewarding Process

Couples therapy helps you stop personalizing your partner’s errors

Once people realize that their partner’s foibles don’t indicate a lack of caring for him or her, they’re better able to accept an apology from their partner for past mistakes, which can help heal old wounds in a relationship. They’re also better able to give their partner appropriate feedback the next time he or she makes mistakes, rather than responding negatively. Appropriate feedback increases the chances that one’s partner will apologize and adjust his or her behavior in the future. And, as each partner makes positive changes in his or her behavior, there will be fewer opportunities for the couple to erroneously interpret one another’s behavior as uncaring.

Why Some People Are Quick to Interpret Their Partner’s Errors as Uncaring

If one or both clients frequently overreact to their partner’s mistakes, a couples therapist can help them recognize what’s causing this. For example, people who don’t have very good self-esteem and/or don’t have enough friends are often quick to interpret their partner’s errors as unloving. The reason is that they’re relying too heavily on their partner to feel cared about since they don’t like themselves enough and/or don’t have enough other meaningful connections that allow them to feel cared about.

Couples counseling can help clients become more aware of the underlying reasons for repeatedly feeling unloved by their partner, and can help build their self-esteem and support them in starting activities in which they may develop more friendships.

Stay tuned for part 5.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Couples Therapy Can Be a Transformative and Rewarding Process – Part 3

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

The reason why many couples aren’t able to improve their unhealthy communication patterns without couples therapy is because they’re caught in a paradigm that won’t allow for much improvement. This paradigm often includes being overly focused on the other person’s contributions to the problem. Doing so usually causes people to only see parts of the puzzle and thus take a confrontational stance towards their partner, who is viewed as the main source of the problem. However, this approach tends to increase rather than reduce conflict.

What’s the Way out of This Maze?

What’s the solution when a couple spirals downward in their communications with each other on a fairly regular basis? If couples knew what to do differently, they probably would have already done it. The solution to a couple’s negative interactions requires a paradigm shift that tends to be outside of many couples’ field of vision, but can be learned with the help of a couples therapist.

A paradigm shift is a significant change of perspective, and is generally brought about by change agents. The discovery that the world is round rather than flat is an example of a major paradigm shift in human history.

Communication patterns with couples therapy

Couples therapy can improve communication patterns

Time for a Paradigm Shift

Couples counseling teaches clients to “externalize the problem” versus seeing each other’s behavior as the primary problem. As long as each partner believes the other person’s behavior is the main concern, the unhealthy dynamic persists. That’s because the PATTERN, which is the real problem, is not being addressed.

Couples therapy helps couples focus their attention on defeating negative patterns in their relationship. The expression, “United we stand, divided we fall,” is very apropos to couples counseling. Clients learn to conquer their ineffective ways of relating to each other by tackling those issues as a team. In contrast, when couples first seek relationship help, their tendency may have been to perpetuate problems by pointing fingers as one another, and the result was most likely, “…divided we fall.”

Go Team!

A big part of a couples therapist’s job is helping clients recognize and overcome dysfunctional ways of relating to each other. Like a sports coach, the couples therapist guides this team effort, encourages clients along the way, and helps both clients see what they need to do differently so the team can function better. When partners blame each another, neither one wants to change for the better, whereas clients are often motivated to change for the good of the team when they’re both being asked to make some adjustments. With the guidance of a couples counselor, small wins eventually lead to victory over patterns that were previously tearing the relationship apart, and the team celebrates success.

Stay tuned for part 4.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Couples Therapy Can Be a Transformative and Rewarding Process – Part 2

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

Ever wonder what couples therapy is like? Part of the process is helping a couple recognize unhealthy patterns in their relationship, since a bird’s eye view is essential in resolving their differences.

Couples Counseling Can Help Couples Break Vicious Cycles in Their Relationship

It’s natural to make mistakes. It’s also natural to want to feel loved and cared about by your partner. The problem is that these two realities combined can create an unhappy chain reaction that goes something like this: June makes a mistake or does something that’s rather unconscious. Joel interprets this behavior as uncaring even though that wasn’t June’s intention, and Joel reacts negatively as a result. June finds it difficult to apologize or accept Joel’s feedback since Joel’s delivery makes her feel unloved. Joel then feels even more unloved because June didn’t seem very apologetic and didn’t accept his input, so Joel becomes even more upset and lets June know this. Joel’s increased negative reaction causes June to feel even more unloved by Joel, so she ramps up by responding even more negatively to Joel than before.

Sound familiar? Couples often have difficulty breaking vicious cycles such as this without the aid of couples counseling because each partner tends to focus on the other person’s contribution to the problem. But that’s not the whole picture, so nothing gets resolved that way. In contrast, couples therapy helps clients see the BIG picture since that’s the only way to shift dynamics like this.

Couples Therapy Can Help Couples Examine Their Unhealthy Dynamics in Slow Motion

Couple's Therapy can be Transformative and Rewarding

Couples therapy can be transformative and rewarding

As you may have noticed in the above scenario, each person contributed to the problem every step along the way. Let’s take a closer look. Step 1: June made a mistake or did something unconscious. Step 2: Joel erroneously interpreted that behavior as uncaring, and then reacted to June in a way that made it virtually impossible for her to sincerely apologize or accept Joel’s feedback. Step 3: June matched Joel’s knee-jerk reaction to her behavior with more undesirable behavior, instead of realizing that doing so would only cause things to continue spiraling downward. Step 4: In turn, Joel looked at June’s response in a vacuum and chose the low road rather than high road in his next response, instead of realizing that his negative reaction to June’s behavior had elicited her unpleasant response. Step 5: Similarly, June then responded in like kind because she looked at Joel’s most recent reaction in a vacuum rather than recognizing how she influenced his response.

As you can see, there’s no way out of this vicious cycle as long as Joel and June continue to focus solely on what their partner is doing wrong, since their partner’s errors are only part of the puzzle. Next, I’ll discuss a powerful paradigm shift that needs to occur in order for couples to avoid unhappy interactions such as this.

Stay tuned for part 3.

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.

Couples Therapy Can Be a Transformative and Rewarding Process – Part 1

Specializing in Relationship Help

Dating and Relationship Help

Couples therapy can help you shed unreasonable expectations you have of your partner and yourself, and show you how to take the lead in improving your relationship. Couples therapy can also be a transformative and rewarding process, not to mention a huge relief for many couples.

Couples Counseling Can Help You Look At Each Other in a New Light

Romance tends to be very alluring, so people often don’t realize what they’re signing up for when they start a relationship. It can come as quite a shock to gradually recognize character flaws in your partner, and notice how your relationship sometimes brings out the worst in you.

Couples therapy can teach you and your partner to support each other’s process of personal growth rather than getting frustrated with each other for not being farther along in that process. This unconditional love is probably the greatest gift you can give each other, but it doesn’t come naturally to most couples.

The reality is that you and your partner are growing, evolving human beings. In other words, you most likely have more shortcomings than your partner would like, and your partner most likely has more shortcomings than you would like. Embracing this reality more fully can make a world of difference in your relationship.

This is not to suggest that you and your partner adopt a complacent attitude towards your character flaws that goes something like, “I’ve always been this way, folks, so don’t expect me to change.” On the contrary, couples counseling can help people overcome self-defeating thoughts such as this, and also get them more interested in continuous self-improvement so they can have the kind of relationship and life they’re hoping for.

Relationship Help and  Couples Counseling

Relationship Help and Couples Counseling

Couples Counseling Can Help You Become Each Other’s Most Important Teacher in Life

A competent couples therapist can guide you in communicating more effectively with your partner about his or her foibles, and vice versa. You could be each other’s most important teacher in life since you may know each other best and you may both be willing to adjust your behavior for the sake of the relationship. However, if you give your partner feedback in a way that’s disrespectful, angry, blaming, and so on, this will simply cause him or her to become defensive and resist apologizing or making any positive shifts on your behalf.  And if you keep your feedback to yourself, that won’t help your partner either.

Couples counseling can help you and your partner more fully accept each other’s areas for growth. Believe it or not, this will increase the chances that you’ll both make positive changes in your behavior since people are more likely to improve when they receive direct but supportive feedback than if they receive unkind feedback or don’t receive any feedback at all.

Accepting rather than rejecting each other’s “humanness” and providing respectful feedback will help both of you to make positive changes, and lo and behold, your relationship will improve.

Stay tuned for part 2. 

By Cynthia Mansur, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

THE CONTENT PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG IS NOT MEDICAL or THERAPEUTIC ADVICE: This blog is not provided for purposes of consulting, evaluation, treatment, instruction, diagnosis, prognosis or professional services of any kind. The content of this blog does not incorporate discussion of all known therapeutic techniques, and is not intended to apply to any specific individual, specific condition or specific clinical situation. The content of this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified, state-licensed and practicing professional who is providing you with professional services based on a written agreement between you and that professional. All  content in this blog is intended as general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice, including but not limited to medical advice, nor is the content of this blog to be relied upon as such.


<<Older Posts





Schedule Appointment

Start your new path in life and be the change today!

CLICK HERE