There is no guidebook for establishing a viable relationship.
Family relationships are essential to our well-being and form the bedrock of our society. And we aren’t born just knowing how to do it well.
There can be a lot to learn and unlearn. And that is great news!
Turns out, humans can evolve, adapt, and transform. And having a guide speeds up the process and offers a place of encouragement when you struggle.
Relationships change and challenges vary.
Relationships can be changed so that we communicate more effectively and get better at understanding one another’s hopes and needs.
I often tell patients that satisfying relationships don’t just fall out of the sky – they take time and tending.
But the payoff is immense.
My work involves people from all walks of life, at various ages, and in different stages of their relationship. The relationship may have grown stale and predictable after many years of marriage.
Sometimes, the couple may be facing a crisis, such as an affair or significant loss. At other times, it may be at the beginning, with a couple wanting to do some preventative work to create a strong foundation.
Relationship issues are not restricted to married couples.
I also work with other family combinations, such as the two adult sisters who came to see me to understand their patterns of conflict.
They deeply loved one another but kept hurting and disappointing one another in an endless loop that never seemed to resolve.
They now enjoy better communication skills, improved boundaries, and understand painful dynamics from their childhood that were driving their current interactions. Conflict happens less, and when it does occur, it usually results in a productive resolution.
Relationships are not static.
Relationships represent a system with many moving parts. Our current behaviors, attitudes, feelings, and needs are pieces of the puzzle; but there is also a legacy from generations in the past.
So, my work with patients always begins with getting a detailed history and an assessment of all those moving parts. We then identify the points of pain and set goals accordingly.
It’s about exploring ways to make positive connection.
During relationship therapy, we explore the motivation level of both partners. Very often, I will give feedback about interactions that are happening during the session, and this can be a powerful way to introduce change.
Together, we will monitor improvements in communication and work on new strategies for coping with conflicts.
I often recommend resources for couples to read during this process. This is where a lot of learning can occur.
Couples are relieved to discover that many other couples have had the same struggles and triumphed together to create a more satisfying connection.