Will it work for me?
Will Couples Therapy Work For Me?
Your relationship is strained. Maybe your arguments are beginning to escalate and you're worried that you won’t be able to get back on track. Perhaps you have been sitting through years of quiet distance as you feel more and more like roommates. Conversely, maybe your conflict carries some heat. Things get better and you have new hope, but you also worry that you’re just biding time until the next blow up. Sometimes you wonder why you stay, but then you share a great moment. You tell yourself you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of commitment.
Perhaps there's been a breach of fidelity and through your aching heart you wonder how this could have happened. You wonder if you should give your spouse another chance. You want to trust them but struggle to imagine how that could be possible. Maybe you've simply lost sight of one another through raising kids, working, or other responsibilities. Sometimes you look across the room and wonder who the stranger is occupying the shape of your spouse. Sometimes an external stressor (i.e, extended family needs or job loss) has taken a toll on your relationship, and you need to regroup or pick up the pieces. At any rate, months or years have gone by with nothing resolved. You long to feel seen, heard, and understood.
And you deserve that. Now. You’ve prioritized other people and things long enough. It’s time to give yourself and your hurt relationship attention.
I know that you're sad. Or pissed. Or guilty. Or confused or even numb. Or feeling many things all at once. You are worried about what it will mean to face a troubled marriage. Or what it will mean if you don't face it and just keep on, well, existing. You may be hesitant to face the pain head on. Or to know if your marriage can be saved, even though that's what you really want. At least that’s what you want today. It’s overwhelming at times. You may be unsure if you have the fortitude to do life alone, or the strength to stay.
Perhaps you've decided that your marriage is hopeless or that it no longer works for you. You may lack hope that couples therapy will be successful. Besides, you don't want to put yourself in the position of being judged or blamed.
You may have tried talking with your pastor or with well-meaning, but unskilled and heavily-biased family or friends. Self-help books may have offered some helpful information, but no real change. Maybe past counseling wasn't successful. Perhaps there was a lot of therapeutic talk, but in the end your relationship wasn't equipped with any new tools.
And now you are asking yourself: Why should I invest in couples therapy? This may be especially true if you have tried it in the past or are not sure if you want to invest in the relationship now.
Since you've read this far, I imagine that there's a part of you that wants to believe it's not too late for your relationship to be good again. Consequently, you want to know if this therapy would be different than what you have tried before, such as if you'd be working with someone who knows how to give the help you need or if you and your spouse are capable of healing and moving forward. You also want to know if it would be worth your investment of time and money. In short, you'd like to know if working with me can work for you, and if you can still achieve your number one goal: to bring harmony back to your life and relationship.
I ask you to consider the following...
1. You are strong enough
One of my favorite quotes says, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but taking action in the presence of fear." Another simply states, "Get 'er done!" Either way, I want you to know that taking a look at your marriage and being willing to consider how to have a conscious relationship going forward isn't easy, but it's quite doable. Yes, it, takes strength courage, and commitment. You will likely be stretched in order to grow, and it may be emotionally uncomfortable at times, but you've got this!
I have worked with countless couples. Many have come back from the brink. Another woman I worked with in individual counseling found the strength to walk away from an unsatisfying 45 year marriage. What they have in common is strength they didn't know they had. I encourage you to find your mantra (like an inspiring quote) and say it loud and often. You never know how strong you are until you try.
2. It's not too late for your marriage to work
I am a casualty of divorce, and I have been divorced. What I know now, several years of clinical training on marriage and relationships later, is that almost any marriage can be saved. Here are some caveats: 1) Both partners have to be willing to try. It's o.k. if they're not on the same page. It's not uncommon for one partner to have 1 foot at the door when they come to therapy (sometimes even one foot and 4 toes from the other foot at the door) but if both partners are willing to attend therapy that's a start. 2) There are some instances in which a marriage should not be saved. These would apply to situations of abuse or maltreatment, such as when one partner is continuing to physically or emotionally harm the other and is unwilling to change.
So, now that you know that almost any marriage - even marriages that have endured years of conflict and betrayals - can be saved, the questions is if you want yours to be saved. Some couples decide that they no longer meet one another's needs and want to move on, and that's their decision to make. Yet, I have learned that couples who want to relearn how to meet one another's needs at any stage can still do so with the proper tools.
3. If you decide to divorce, you'll be better off for examining your marriage
"Wherever you go, there you are." - Jon Kabat-Zin
I find this sentiment to be particular true when dealing with relationships. It's almost as predictable as the law of gravity. So unless relocation to the moon is in your future, it will be important to figure out your contribution to the break-up of your marriage so that you can learn and grow and approach your next relationship differently. I have heard clients say, "It doesn't matter. I'll never be in another relationship." First, I think they'll change their mind. Second, we are wired to connect. We will always be in relationships - romantic, platonic, collegial, social, neighborly, and so on. Our primary relationship, e.g, our spouse, is the most intense and has the ability to trigger us the most, hence, the greatest opportunity for learning and connection. Nonetheless, it's important to know more about how you show up in relationships so that you can be on the 'learn, grow, repeat cycle' and not the 'enter new relationship, relationship goes bad, break up, repeat cycle.'
4. You can have a relationship better than you've ever had before
"Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it." - Ranier Maria Rilke
There are many reasons why you may not have had your best possible relationship before now, and I doubt you made a conscious decision to settle. Nevertheless, you may not have had the skills, resources, commitment, or belief that it was possible for you. When relationships go through turmoil, they often have to be rebuilt from the ground up. I've seen couples after an affair report that they have a brand new relationship with their spouse, which makes sense. After all, the old relationship wasn't working and has to end in order for a new one to rise up. New conversations, skills, attitudes, and connections. Getting to know one another all over again, or perhaps for the very first time. This is possible for you too. What I'm saying is that if you are willing to dive deep with your spouse and yourself, then you will be better-equipped to create a healthier relationship than you've ever had before. If you decide to divorce, then you can also know what you require in a relationship should you decide to partner again in the future.
5. Your friends, books, and doctors may not be equipped to help you
In a time of need, it's common to turn to what you know best. Your best friend, for instance. While they can console you, they can't make it better. Primary care physicians can prescribe but not counsel. At times an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication can be instrumental in improving day to day functioning so that's an important option to consider as part of an overall treatment plan. Yet, it won't change the course of your marriage. Pastors can counsel from a Biblical perspective, and there is a definite place for spiritual guidance when going through a tough time. I encourage all persons of faith to utilize this resource. I know first hand that prayer works wonders. Most pastors, however, have not had courses in therapeutic counseling and may not know how to help struggling couples dissect their problems and so that they can build up a new relationship. Books are helpful and there are workbooks designed to help couples improve communication. It's hard for most couples to follow through with workbooks, however, plus, they aren't designed for more serious conflict or crisis.
6. My experience may be the key to unlocking your relationship potential
Relationships can be many things, for instance, loving, adaptive, volatile, or unpredictable. One thing they are not is unique. Let me emphasize that again. People are unique and situations are unique to them, but the principles of relationships, including yours, are not. This is a good thing. It means that experts have been able to develop theories and techniques that will help couples with a variety of needs, including communication, connection, and trust. I have been able to study several tried-and-true models of couples therapy that can make a difference. I have a special interest in helping couples recover after a betrayal, which includes but isn't limited to extramarital affairs. Many times partners also describe a feeling of betrayal in relation to financial affairs, dealing with in-laws, or not experiencing their partner as available at a significant point of need.
My role is to serve and support the relationship without judgement or bias. Rather, I facilitate each partner communicating their needs as well as learning to listen in a productive way to their partner's experiences in the relationship. There are many relationship interventions at my disposal (relationships don't come with a manual, but I own several of them). Providing a safe and structured space for conversation and healing, adding brave tools, and offering compassion to your unique situation are just a few of the anchors you can expect from working with me.
I have been through the marital trenches myself. I've been divorced and I've been happily married. I have parented, step-parented, and foster-parented. I have empathy for all these situations and more. I know what it's like to be a busy professional and to have little spare time. That's why I offer flexible appointments including evenings and weekends. I know when the need strikes urgently so I can typically schedule an initial appointment within 1 week (and often within 72 hours), if desired, and also offer extended "marathon" appointments. (Be sure to check out what to look for in a couples therapist in FAQ. )
7. Telehealth could work effectively for you. The majority of couples who have quit couples therapy before did so for 1 of 2 reasons (or both): they didn't find their therapist helpful or life got in the way and it was hard to stick with it. Most couples find telehealth to be a streamlined process that makes scheduling and committing to a course of therapy a no-brainer.
Telehealth is not just for quarantining. It is here to stay. Truth be told, there are some advantages for me as a practitioner. Staying connected to my kids and parents, whom all live in other areas, is important to me. Thus, I enjoy the advantages of being able to honor my values while simultaneously being able to stay connected to my clients. But I wouldn't do it if it didn't benefit clients as well. Please refer to 7 Benefits of Telehealth to learn more about this beneficial format for couples therapy.