What is Couples Therapy?
When you think of couples therapy, you might think of two people in a relationship coming together with a therapist to work through their issues. However, the couple starting couples therapy might think (or at least hope) that their therapy is about fixing their partner—and once their partner gets fixed their troubles will be over. While it might be nice to think that we ourselves are flawless, the reality is that usually both partners play a role in their relationship problems.
Some Issues Couples Experience:
Lack of intimacy (emotional and physical)
Difficulty collaborating in decision making together (issues with control)
When couples play out the same arguments or relationship dynamics with their spouse, they each contribute to their relationship getting stuck. Hitting roadblocks is normal for couples to experience; this does not make a couple broken. Not surprisingly, committed relationships are challenging when you have two people sharing living space, dealing with finances together, raising kids, and trying to connect (physically and emotionally) with one another. Letting your partner know you and letting yourself be known to them (emotional intimacy) can bring on anxiety due to fear of potential judgment and rejection. It is no wonder that couples experience anxiety in their relationships, and that they sometimes find them difficult. These relationship challenges, though uncomfortable, can help pressure us to grow and change.
Changes bring up discomfort for most of us. If you are trying to get unstuck and less codependent with your partner, you are certain to feel more discomfort (at least initially) instead of less. Honesty with ourselves and our partners is sometimes unflattering. We can choose to avoid problems and stay comfortable (or at least put up) with the status quo. However, that comes with a cost. Maintaining a difficult or disconnected relationship can lead to more resentment, discontentment, and likely dulls passion. It can keep us small and somewhat immature.
Instead, making changes and tolerating the anxiety, uncertainty, and discomfort from doing so, gives us the opportunity for more meaningful and passionate relationships (which could be hard to imagine now) with our partners. We also might want to change because at the end of the day we can better respect ourselves and increase our own confidence from reacting more maturely and honestly with our partners.
How Can Couples Therapy Help?
It can reveal why couples engage/interact with one another in the way that they do (awareness is the first step towards change)
It can help couples let go of judgment towards themselves and/or their partner (it does not mean letting themselves or their partners off the hook for their behaviors)
It can help couples identify how to deal with the issues in their relationship head on, instead of getting stuck in the same patterns of blaming, excuses, and unresolved arguments
It can help couples learn to become more responsible for their own behaviors and hold themselves accountable to change
It can help couples increase their tolerance for anxiety and life stressors
It can help each individual person build their confidence and self-respect
It can lead to a couples experiencing deeper intimacy, growth, and authenticity
Working through issues can be challenging and anxiety inducing. In fact, if you take the step to deal with your relationship issues, you are basically welcoming more discomfort into your life rather than less. However, with the help of therapy, you can learn to tolerate that anxiety and deal with it in more meaningful ways. With your effort, therapy can lead to your personal growth. It can also help you to overcome your relationship roadblocks and have greater connection and passion with your partner.