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How Does Online Couples Therapy Work?

Before we can answer the question posed in the title above, it’d help to ask: How does couples therapy help? It’s a version of psychotherapy designed for people in a romantic relationship. They may have a specific issue they wish to address. In other cases, they want to improve their relationship in a more general sense.

Each couples therapist, of course, will have their own approach but the general concept is universal. You’re not there for individual counseling. Rather, you and the therapist are working together to treat the relationship. A recent survey found that 97 percent of couples who tried this kind of therapy reported getting the help they needed.

Why Online Couples Therapy?

As with so many aspects of life today, online couples therapy is akin to a video meeting. You can choose the telephone but the vast majority of couples opt for the video option. Some of the many reasons why people may choose teletherapy include:

  • They’re partners but they do not live together
  • Busy, incompatible schedules
  • Lacking access to an in-person therapist in their geographical area
  • Privacy (not wanting to risk running into someone at the therapy office)
  • One or both partners have an illness, injury, or disability

How Does Online Couples Therapy Work?

In most cases, it’s a virtual version of in-person couples therapy. Problems and their underlying roots are identified. Negative patterns are exposed. Together with their therapist, the couples set collective goals. The therapist uses standardized tools to assess progress and direct focus and attention.

The fact that this takes place online doesn’t change the traditional model. Using video allows the therapist to perceive important cues in gestures, tone, body language, and more. Once everyone has settled into the digital format, the sessions have a rhythm and tone of their own.

A Few Reasons to Not Choose Online Couples Therapy

  • When one partner feels uncomfortable in the home
  • If domestic violence is present in the household
  • When one partner feels strongly about being in an in-person therapy setting
  • If circumstances in the home (noise, lack of privacy, etc.) can sabotage your efforts
  • The couple is not knowledgeable enough to handle the technological aspects (or if their equipment is not reliable)
  • If the process of doing this online causes distrust or distress to either partner

couple surrounding by candles looking out at dark night skyAdvantages of Online Couples Therapy

  • Convenience: There’s no commute and no need to pick out an outfit or put on makeup. This dramatically shortens the time commitment without compromising the quality of care.
  • Scheduling: Since you’re not limited by strict office hours, you may be able to meet on a day and time that is atypical of any type of medical appointment.
  • Privacy: As touched on above, there’s no concern about running into someone on your way or even in the waiting room.
  • Comfort: Your therapist gets to see you on your home field. No matter what, people can assume a certain presentation when meeting in a therapy office. At home, however, you can show your therapist more of who you are.
  • Application: Part of couples therapy is learning new skills. Doing this in a setting where those skills will be more often applied can be empowering. This can streamline the process from skill acquisition to skill application.
  • Normalcy: For nearly three years, video meetings have quickly become the norm. Transferring this reality into the realm of therapy has never been easier or felt more normal.

Will Online Couples Therapy Be the Game-Changer For Your Relationship?

There’s only one way to find out. Couples therapy has never been more available and accessible. You know the basics now. What not follow up by giving us a call so we can talk.

mixed race couple hugging one another lovingly

Is There More Conflict In A Multicultural Marriage?

Almost 20 percent of married people in the U.S. have a spouse of a different ethnicity or race. About 50 years ago, that number was three percent. It wasn’t until 1967 that interracial marriages were legally allowed in many states. In other words, so much change has happened and continues to happen. But, amidst the celebration, what does this mean on a minor level? How do individuals fare in this more inclusive world?

More people are embracing different religions, identities, and cultures but this does not negate the inherent challenges of a committed, long-term relationship. Could it be that multicultural marriages face more strife?

All Marriages Involve Conflict

Marital conflict is inevitable. The words “for better or for worse” are not window dressing. Couples that accept this reality are best positioned to navigate the ups and downs. So, to be clear, cross-cultural connections are not the cause of conflict. It’s inaccurate and unfair to blame this relatively new trend. However, multicultural marriages do face issues and problems that other relationships don’t.

Conflicts Unique to Multicultural Marriages

Hostility, Judgment, and Worse

Things have changed but meanwhile, racism still thrives in some people and institutions. Such folks cannot bear the thought or sight of multicultural couples. They make their toxic opinions known through methods like:

  • Public comments, stares, insults, etc.
  • Online intimidation
  • Stereotyping
  • Seemingly innocent comments and questions that add up over time

Isolation

When you start dating someone of a different race, you also get to learn more about the people in your life. This will be an enlightening experience. It may also bring heartbreak. Family members and/or close friends may reject you. Being cut off from folks you once relied on can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation. In turn, this adds strain to your marriage.

mixed race couple hugging one another lovingly

Holidays and Traditions

These are areas that notoriously create stress within families. But this is more than where you eat on Thanksgiving. It could be about what you eat on a holiday or if you even celebrate that holiday at all. This conflict often bleeds into differences when it comes to traditions. Few people are fine with giving up rituals they’ve engaged in since childhood. Multicultural couples typically do more compromising than other sets of spouses.

Raising Children

All of the above combine when and if you decide to start a family. Even the friends and family members who’ve been accepting will be voicing opinions. At the same time, you and your partner will be engaging in plenty of long and possibly contentious discussions on topics like:

  • Schooling
  • Wardrobe
  • Religion
  • Holidays and traditions
  • Identity

So, Does This Mean There is More Conflict in a Multicultural Marriage?

No matter what, this will vary depending on the people involved. Still, it might be safe to say that multicultural couples face more potential for conflict. They have all the usual stuff — the arguments over money, communication, sex, household chores, and so on. They also have the stuff highlighted above (and that is hardly a comprehensive list).

There’s a more productive and positive way to state. Multicultural marriages have more opportunities to commit to growth. They will be challenged more often than other couples and this opens the door for them to evolve and deepen their bond. Committing to couples therapy is an excellent and proven path toward such goals.

Let’s Talk About the Conflict and Challenges You Face

You’re not alone in this struggle. A therapist who understands these issues can be critical to you both finding healthy ways to thrive and move forward. If you are in a multicultural marriage, I’d love to chat with you soon. Let’s connect soon for a free and confidential consultation for couples therapy.

Anxiety Over A Relationship Is Common: How To Help Manage This

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Relationship-related anxiety is normal. Everyone experiences it. That said, it can transform into dysfunction if not addressed. Relationship anxiety can also cause you to unconsciously sabotage your connection. You feel so anxious that you begin to imagine that breaking up is the only source of relief. Picking fights or testing boundaries might be a sign that anxiety is the culprit.

But there is good news. Anxiety over a relationship is common and very much can be managed. The first step is to identify its presence in your life.

A Few Common Signs of Relationship Anxiety

If relationship anxiety is normal, how can we tell when it has crossed the line into something more serious? Here are a few red flags to watch for?

Doubting Your Partner’s Feelings For You

You’ve both said, “I love you.” You’ve committed to being a couple. Yet… there is a nagging doubt. Does she really love me? What does it mean when he looks at me a certain way? If all is going reasonably well, this is not normal anxiety.

Fearing a Break-Up

Every couple has rough patches, disagreements, and conflicts. If such situations cause you to fully believe you’re about to be dumped, anxiety may be ruling the day.

Planning a Break-Up

Do you spend a lot of time and energy looking for reasons to break up? Those reasons might not exist but anxiety sure does. Thus, as mentioned above, you view splitting up as more palatable than living under so much stress.

Over-Thinking

This includes:

  • Overanalyzing everything your partner says and does
  • Needing constant reassurance
  • Comparing your relationship to other couples
  • Not trusting, e.g. checking their phone, etc.

If any of this sounds even remotely familiar, you must immediately address it. The longer you wait, the harder it is to manage relationship anxiety.

4 Ways to Manage Relationship Anxiety

1. Accept the Situation Without Shame

Relationships are challenging. If you feel into a pattern of anxiety, accept it. But do without self-shaming. Be honest with yourself and your partner and accept the need to make changes. This is an excellent opportunity to work together as a team.

2. Identify Your Triggers

Displaying anxiety of any kind can often be an outward sign of a deeper issue. Do the work to identify:

  • What external behaviors cause you to act in an anxious manner
  • The root issues that created this cycle

3. Enhance Communication Skills

So much of your anxiety is probably triggered by you wondering “what if.” Commit together with your partner to improve your individual and collective communication skills. The more often, more directly, and more frequently you talk in person, the less likely that misunderstandings occur.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Relationship anxiety can be driven by regrets about the past or fear of the future. Meanwhile, the present moment is where we all live. Mindfulness practice guides us to stay present. In this state, it is much easier to appreciate your relationship as it is happening.

Getting Help for Relationship Anxiety

Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed mental health issue in the world. You are not alone but you may not be able to manage it alone. That’s why so many people choose to heal from anxiety via therapy. Working one-on-one with a skilled therapist is a proven path toward recovery.

Your weekly sessions are the ideal setting for recognizing patterns and causes. From there, you are better positioned to discover new approaches and solutions. You can absolutely thrive in your relationship so please do not hesitate to ask for help. We’d love to support you on this journey with couples therapy.

3 Ways to Improve Communication When You Are in a Neurodivergent Relationship

Not everyone sees and experiences the world the same. If this difference is due to neurological reasons, that person is called “neurodivergent.” Common examples include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, the list is much longer than that. Roughly one in seven people are neurodivergent.

With the percentage being that high, it’s not unusual for a neurodivergent person to connect in a relationship with a neurotypical person. Like every relationship, there will be challenges. In this instance, perhaps the biggest hurdle is communication. With that in mind, let’s explore some ways to improve that important element of any couple’s life.

Communication Struggles in a Neurodivergent Relationship

In many ways, this section can be summed up with the phrase “speaking different languages.” Each partner sees the world through a different lens. This is definitely not a deal-breaker but it requires special focus.

Unless both of you commit to the work, it’s likely that at least one of you will feel unheard or invalidated. This can result in resentment and emotional distance. Thus, it’s essential that you recognize your differences and put in the effort to connect.

Communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Prioritizing this skill is a powerful step toward strengthening your bond. And remember, there is no finish line. Communication is an ongoing process that evolves as you do and as circumstances change. There is no secret formula except doing the work. Here are some tips to help you along that road.

3 Ways to Improve Communication When You Are in a Neurodivergent Relationship

1. Be Aware of Timing

Not every time is a good time to communicate — especially about weighty topics. Work together to identify times that feel compatible and productive. Over time, you can create routines to allow consistency to guide you. Many neurodivergent thrive with routines.

Another way timing plays a role is in not letting small problems fester. Express your feelings early and often. Suppressing difficult emotions may prevent an uncomfortable discussion now but will almost always result in a major disagreement later.

2. Be Clear

Do not expect your partner to intuitively know what you mean, feel, need, and want. Even if you’re soul mates, you need clarity. This usually means you can’t rely solely on nuance, body language, or implications. Something like sarcasm or metaphor can be misread or missed entirely.

Everyone has their own lens and framework for communication. Take the time to learn how your partner clicks. Take the time to share with your partner about yourself. And put a strong emphasis on clarity.

3. Be Ready to Learn

When a misunderstanding occurs, it can lead either or both of you to immediately expect the worst. This is a crisis, after all… right? Sure, all couples have rough patches but not every disagreement is cause for panic. In fact, you can agree to work together to see such scenarios as teaching moments.

If you choose to stay curious and compassionate, there is so much to learn. Differing viewpoints are a chance to broaden your horizons. Hearing your partner out during an argument is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge about them. The more you learn, the fewer misunderstandings you have.

Couples Therapy is Proactive

You do not have to wait for a crisis to emerge to seek guidance. A neurodivergent couple can work proactively to prevent many of the more common pitfalls. Connecting with a skilled, unbiased therapist early in your relationship is a proven path toward easing the challenges.

If you’re in a neurodivergent couple, I invite you to reach out soon for couples therapy. Let’s schedule you for a free and confidential consultation.

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How To Tell If You Are Feeding A Narcissist’s Supply

Relationships are all about give and take. When you’re in a relationship, you do things to help the other person, and they respond in kind. But, sometimes, one person in the relationship requires or requests more than the other.

Narcissists have an increased desire to have all of their needs met. If you are in a relationship with a narcissistic person, you may unexpectedly turn into their supply to feed those needs to them.

What Is A Narcissist?

Narcissism is an increased sense of self-importance, along with a deep desire for admiration and attention. A narcissist may also have a severe lack of empathy for others and may only focus on their own needs, wants feelings, and desires. It is a pattern of behavior that is self-centered and arrogant, with an inflated sense of self and a lack of consideration for others.

A narcissist is deficient in genuine self-esteem and self-worth, which is why they rely upon other people to affirm and uphold their fragile ego.

Signs Of A Narcissist

There are many signs that someone may be a narcissist.

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  • Belittles and criticizes others often
  • Bullies and intimidates
  • Needs constant praise
  • Wants to be admired
  • Lacks empathy for others
  • Needs to be the center of attention
  • Has an elevated sense of self-importance
  • Exploits others without compunction

What Is Narcissistic Supply?

Narcissists lack inner self-worth, so they rely upon others to feed their narcissistic supply. They need to be validated and adored in order to feel good about themselves.

Narcissistic people may use intimidation or aggression to belittle others, then use emotional intelligence, charm, manipulation, and seduction to keep others from running off. Narcissists will often be drawn to codependent relationships, as they rely on admiration and feed off of submission.

A narcissist will manipulate and control others to feel good, which is why they can be abusive in relationships. They can use aggression and be rude, offensive, and belittling towards their partners to wear down their self-worth. This can turn into a sadistic, abusive relationship. They will continue to berate and belittle partners until they are completely submissive and passive, giving the narcissist whatever they need in a desire to please them.

When you are a narcissist’s supply, your own needs and feelings are ignored and cast aside.

How To Tell If You Are Feeding A Narcissist’s Supply

Narcissists only feel a sense of happiness and achievement when others speak or think highly of them. So, they have a constant hunger for praise and attention that feeds their self-importance.

How can you tell if you are the submissive partner, inadvertently feeding the narcissist? The main sign is a complete lack of care for your needs, be they emotional, mental, or physical. They will not consider your well-being, health, or mental stability. They only care about their own self-worth.

When you are feeding someone else’s self-confidence and worth, always making them feel elevated and loved, you can begin to feel drained, lost, and alone.

Other signs that you are feeding a narcissist are:

  • They demand you to do a lot for them without considering what you want.
  • They need constant attention, praise, and affection from you.
  • They take credit for all good things in a relationship and will not take responsibility for their failures or wrongdoings.
  • You feel that they are the leader and controller in the relationship, and you go along with things.
  • Your own goals seem unimportant compared to theirs, and you may push them aside in order to help them meet their goals.
  • They may gaslight or ghost you.
  • You feel manipulated into doing things.
  • They may withhold things from you without reason, such as affection or intimacy.

Cutting Off The Supply

If you are concerned you are feeding a narcissist, it’s time to cut off their supply. A narcissist only cares about themselves and may drain another person to gain their supply of affection, praise, and attention without caring about their wants and needs.

In that case, it is important that you speak to a licensed therapist who has experience with abusive and toxic relationships to help you heal and reevaluate your relationship. Reach out soon and read more about couples therapy so we can help you manage your mental health and move toward a happier, healthier relationship in the future.

 

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Why Relationship Rituals Are Important & How to Create Them

It’s beyond cliché to talk about how modern life distracts us from being present with one another. In relationships, in particular, this can become damaging. That’s partly why Dr. John Gottman — a legendary relationship expert — has always recommended the creation of relationship rituals. A “magic six hours a week,” he calls it.

This purposeful together-time will look different for each couple. But the guiding principles are pretty consistent. You create richer connections on multiple levels by practicing rituals. They may be spiritual. They may relate to goodbyes and reunions. But they are all important.

How to Create Relationship Rituals

1. The Basics

  • Taking time to properly and intimately say hello and goodbye
  • Taking device breaks
  • Cooking and eating meals together
  • Performing errands and chores as a couple
  • Teamwork when handling finances
  • Celebrating holidays and daily moments
  • Caring for each other when ill
  • Sharing common hobbies — especially those that involve creativity

The list is literally endless but this should get the wheels turning. Another excellent example involves exercise. Fitness is important so why not commit together to this important goal? Cheer each other on!

2. Undistracted Conversation About External Life

It could begin with as simple a question as “how was your day?” The concept is to share undistracted attention to share thoughts and ideas as they pertain to external issues. Of course, you will also need time to discuss your relationship. But it is so crucial to take a focused interest in each other’s day-to-day experiences.

3. Date Nights (with cuddling and kissing)

The fun, adventure, and passion can be sustained with conscious effort. Go out together as you did when you first met. And be affectionate! Such physical contact causes your body to release oxytocin, the love hormone. This sets off a wide range of positive outcomes — that can last for days. Hold your hugs and kisses for at least six seconds.

4. Apologize When Necessary

Arguments are inevitable. It becomes more manageable when you both commit to repairing feelings after a conflict. Let your partner know you take responsibility, feel remorse, and will work to do better next time.

How to Take Your Relationship Rituals to Another Level

Have Deep Conversations

Talk regularly — face-to-face and without distractions — about your goals, dreams, fears, and more. Share important memories from time together and before you met. Be open about what feels meaningful to you. These conversations are themselves a ritual. You set aside time and energy to hold space for each other. It is a powerful way to honor each other’s inner life.

Practice Gratitude

Don’t leave compliments left unsaid. If you feel appreciation, state it. When you think your partner looks great, tell them. Make gratitude a many-times-a-day practice. Surprise each other with gratitude text messages. Actively avoid taking each other for granted.

There will be times when you focus on a partner’s mistakes or shortcomings. It is thus essential to counterbalance this reality by saying “thank you” throughout the day. Also, when parting ways, let each other know that you can’t wait to reunite. When that reunion occurs, show your excitement and affection openly.

Commit Together to Couples Counseling

There is a possibility that the above suggestions feel impossible at times. You and your partner may have unknowingly drifted. Coming together again is easier said than done. Well, there’s a ritual for that, too.

Couples therapy is a powerful way to commit together routinely, in the name of repair and reconnection. Your weekly sessions become a ritual of sorts where you work with a therapist to identify the obstacles keeping you distant. Let us help. Please reach out soon for a confidential consultation.

 

Gottman Couples Therapy

Drs. John and Julie Gottman are a married couple who have been helping other couples for four decades. They are world-renowned for their research, writings, and original therapeutic approach to couples counseling. Although there are many different types of couples therapy, the Gottman Method is one with widespread success that many people find is a perfect choice for improving their relationships.

What is the Gottman Method?

The Gottman Method is a specific approach to couples therapy. It begins with a detailed assessment of the relationship. You’ll start by coming together with your therapist to answer questions. Then each of you will have an individual interview with the therapist. Sometimes both partners also complete online questionnaires.

The assessment process is certainly helpful for your therapist to gain information about the relationship and how best to help you and your relationship. However, it’s also helpful for you. It’s really the start of the therapeutic process. As you share your story – together and separately – you begin to gain insight into the bigger picture of your relationship. You get a chance to see where you are, how you feel about things, and what you’d like to see change in the relationship. Telling your story helps you get clearer on what that story is. In other words, the assessment itself is therapeutic.

Of course, the assessment is just the beginning. It helps determine where the therapy goes from there. Your therapist will share with you their feedback about where your relationship is strong and where it needs work. They will also give you a sense of how therapy can help that work to happen, what the priorities will be, and some sense of how long it might take.

You’ll work together in therapy to address three core aspects of your relationship:

  1. The friendship between you and your partner
  2. How to better manage conflicts in your relationships
  3. Ways to create shared meaning to strengthen the relationship

Through a wide variety of techniques and exercises, you’ll work on deepening your friendship and intimacy, handling conflicts in better ways, and healing the past, and working towards a shared sense of your future together.

Will Gottman Couples Therapy Work for You?

As with any type of couples therapy, Gottman therapy may or may not work for you. It primarily depends on your willingness – individually and as a couple – to be open to trying new things in order to improve the quality of your relationship. If you give the exercises your full effort, then there’s a good chance that you’ll find some benefit in this type of therapy.

For example, one of the Gottman Method techniques is the idea of Turning Toward. You will learn how to recognize when your partner is making a “bid” for connection with you and what a positive response to that bid might look like on your part. Then, you go put it into action at home! Because when we feel that our partner is attending well to us, our relationship is strengthened. And when our relationship feels stronger, more sturdy, we handle conflict better as well – even without directly working on the conflict itself.

All of the Gottman couples therapy techniques are built upon extensive research into relationships, and hopefully you can already get a sense of how they build on each other.

Some of the other things that you’ll practice in Gottman couples therapy include:

  • Building and maximizing relationship trust
  • Creating intimacy through small everyday acts
  • Creating rituals, traditions, and shared meaning together
  • Developing a solution-oriented, problem-solving approach together
  • Growing through healthy approaches to conflict
  • Learning how to keep your “love map” of your partner up-to-date
  • Nurturing gratitude for your relationship
  • Strengthening fondness, respect, and admiration for one another
  • Interacting from a place of seeing there are two subjective realities
  • The critical importance of being open to influence

Finding the Right Couples Therapist

It isn’t easy finding the right couples therapist. However, working with a therapist who knows the Gottman Method can be a great place to start. Research has shown that it can be an effective form of therapy for couples across all different types of economic, racial, and gender lines. Same-sex relationships benefit from this therapeutic approach as do opposite-sex couples.

One of the most interesting things about this therapy is that it’s designed specifically to help solve the ongoing, perpetual problems that plague many relationships.

Gottman’s research has found that more than two-thirds of marital conflicts are perpetual, which can make those problems seem insurmountable. However, Gottman couples therapy is designed specifically to target those issues. Therefore, the approach may help you even if previous attempts at couples therapy have been unsuccessful.

Of course, you don’t have to be at a crisis point to benefit from this therapy approach. We can use the Gottman Method to help you nip your relationship problems in the bud. We know that you already have a lot of strengths that you bring to the table, and we can help you build upon those strengths so that you create a solid foundation for the relationship in the months and years to come.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Gottman Method for couples therapy, contact us today.

Break-ups

Break-ups are so painful. They are universal; everyone goes through them. Yet, as you deal with your own break-up, you may feel entirely alone in the world. Therapy can be a really effective way to take care of yourself during this emotional time. It provides you with the support you need so that you no longer feel so alone, and it helps you build the resilience to confidently move forward.

Recovering from a Breakup

It isn’t easy dealing with a breakup. You might feel like you should just be able to get over it and move on. Others in your life might even be telling you as much. However, it’s important to understand that a breakup is a loss. Coping with any loss is a process.

There is a lot of grief involved in dealing with a breakup. Many people go through the same grieving stages after a breakup as they do after the death of someone they love. You might go through stages of anger, denial, and depression.

Getting therapy after a breakup can provide you with the support that you need to move through those stages. We can honor and accept the many feelings associated with a breakup. Eventually, you can reach a stage of acceptance, which allows you to move on to a new relationship in a healthy way.

Coping with Heartache

It is important to understand that recovering from a breakup may be hard regardless of the details of the relationship. In other words, it’s perfectly normal to have trouble coping with heartache regardless of whether:

  • The decision was mutual, someone broke up with you, or you made the call to end things
  • It was a short-term or long-term relationship
  • You were a monogamous couple or were dating other people
  • You are young, old, or in-between

If you are finding it hard to cope with the pain of a break-up, that feeling is completely valid. You may be dealing with emotions that are a direct reaction to the breakup itself. You may also have feelings related to the past, including your childhood or past relationships. Break-ups trigger many things. Sometimes coping with heartache means reviewing some of the past so as to be able to better move into the future.

Are You in Need of Professional Help?

Break-ups are a grief process. Anyone struggling with grief may benefit from professional help. In some cases, the grief can turn into depression. If you have symptoms of depression, including a loss of interest in activities and a struggle with low self-esteem, then it is important that you seek professional help right away.

However, you don’t have to be in crisis to gain benefits from therapy. In fact, some people come to therapy after a break-up even when, overall, they are doing okay. Therapy can help you process the relationship, understand the breakup, and set goals for the months to come.

Therapy can give you a chance to get reacquainted with yourself, to figure out who you are and what you want separate from that relationship.

We understand that break-ups are painful. They can also be opportunities for growth. We are here to help you honor the hurt, move through it, and then encourage you in the growth you experience on the other side. Feel free to get in touch with us today if you need some support as you move through a break-up process.

 

Pre-Marital Couples

There used to be a taboo against getting pre-marital counseling. Many people saw it as something only certain religious couples would do. Or that it was evidence of problems that might make marriage contraindicated. However, it’s increasingly common for couples to see a therapist before getting married. After all, you’re about to join your lives together in a very significant way. That definitely merits the kind of open communication and problem-solving that therapy for couples can offer.

Is Your Relationship in Need of Therapy?

At first, you might wonder how you could possibly need couples counseling before you are even married. There is a myth that couples only go to therapy when something is very wrong. If things are that wrong before the marriage, why would you even get married?

The truth is that you don’t need to be in crisis to benefit from couples’ therapy. In fact, couples who go to therapy before things are bad can often nip problems in the bud, avoiding the kind of deeper conflicts that ultimately lead to divorce. If you want your marriage to have the best chance of thriving, then learning how to shore up the foundation of your relationship and navigate through core differences before the marriage are important keys to relationship success.

Couples Counseling Can Help

Couples counseling can help before marriage in so many different ways.

First of all, if you’re already planning a wedding together, then you’re likely under a lot of stress. Even though wedding planning is exciting, it is challenging. Couples often end up fighting about wedding details including cost, location, and who to invite. Premarital counseling can help you negotiate these issues so that you can both have the joyous wedding of your dreams.

Premarital counseling offers a lot more than that, though. It helps you really get on the same page as you begin your lives together. It provides a safe space to talk with each other about the fears and concerns that you naturally have moving forward. Many couples don’t want to address these things because they just want to bask in the pleasantness of getting married. However, failure to address big issues early on can lead to a lot of heartache in the future.

Premarital counseling provides you with the tools you need to learn how to effectively communicate about challenging topics. These tools will benefit you all throughout your marriage.

Talk to a Professional Today

People talk about many different issues in premarital counseling. Some people come to resolve specific challenges before the marriage. For example, if you have been in a long-distance relationship, you may need to discuss what relocating to live together is really going to look like.

Even if there is no singular problem, you may wish to focus on setting shared goals together to get your marriage off on the right foot. Some of the things that people discuss in premarital counseling include:

  • Whether, when, and how many children to have
  • Issues related to parenting styles
  • Gender role beliefs, which can arise even in non-traditional relationships
  • Step-parent and blended family concerns
  • Financial histories, challenges, beliefs, and goals
  • Traditions and cultural beliefs that are important to bring forth in the marriage
  • What important values are associated with marriage

If you are about to get married, therapy can only help. Reach out to us today to learn more about how it might be useful for you in this exciting time of your relationship.

Those with Uncertainty about Their Relationship

How do you move forward in a relationship when you have uncertainties? Should you even be thinking about moving forward in the first place?

Doubts and uncertainty can occur at any time during a relationship. Feeling uncertain about a future with your partner is frustrating, and it makes sense that you would like some certainty about where you want things to head in your relationship.

Maybe you crave stability. Perhaps you just don’t want to be back in the dating scene, so you stay even though you’re uncertain if they are the right partner for you. Are your doubts about what other people will think? Are you holding yourself back because your family or friends might not like your choice? How do you reconcile their expectations with your desires? Maybe you feel like it’s selfish to pursue what you want to do.

Or, is your uncertainty a red flag?

Sometimes uncertainty can mask truths we don’t want to acknowledge. You may see your partner’s possessiveness as a sign of love, but is it? Or, is it an indication that they can’t form healthy relationships? Every abused spouse overlooked early signs of the abuser’s nature.

If you make excuses for your partner’s actions, or if you’re afraid to tell your friends about some of the things your partner does, it may be a red flag that there is something wrong with the relationship. Do you chalk major disappointments up to poor communication without being sure the deception wasn’t deliberate? Could those disappointments be signs of dishonesty?

“Do I want a great relationship, or will any relationship do?”

If you’re not certain about who you are and what you want from life and your relationship, you may give up too much. You might settle for less than you want and need because you’re not certain your partner, or any partner, can give you those things. You’d rather have the relationship than have whatever it is you’re giving up.

Or maybe you change in order to please your partner because you’re not certain they’ll stay if you aren’t exactly the way they want you to be.

You wonder if you’re settling or if there really is someone better for you out there. Perhaps this is as good as it gets. Or if someone better exists, would you ever actually find that person?

Maybe you distract yourself with work or hobbies until you realize another year has gone by and your relationship isn’t any more satisfying than it was last time you admitted to yourself you weren’t happy with it. Could things really be better? Should you give it more time? Is it okay to move on even though things are okay, but not great? How do you decide? And how do you even go about improving things, if you opt to stay in it?

If you find yourself feeling unsure about your partner’s commitment to you, you may be right that they aren’t committed. Or it could be that you don’t feel lovable enough to believe in the commitment they have made to you. How can you tell the difference?

Or maybe it just seems easier to stay with the status quo even though you aren’t happy, which can be a sign that you’re in an uncomfortable comfort zone. If this is the case, things won’t get better without a disruption of some sort. Proactively addressing it is a gentler way of making change than what happens when the pressure builds without relief.

Although uncertainty in relationships can be quite normal, feeling unsettled and doubting your relationship can make you anxious, restless, and unhappy. You know you can’t control them; you can only control yourself. The less you trust your ability to be okay regardless of what your partner does, the more disruptive uncertainties will feel.

Having doubts about your relationship can be a sign that something is not as good as it could be – in your relationship, within yourself, and often both.

In this situation, the changes that are best are different for everyone. There is a balance to be found between uncertainty and taking your partner for granted.

When It’s Time to See a Professional

Exploring your doubts and uncertainties about your relationship with a professional will ultimately lead to positive changes. Those changes may mean you find ways to be more comfortable with uncertainty or that you decide to make a bigger transformation in your life. You may decide you want to stay with your partner but not as you are, so you begin pursuing ways to build more intimacy and tighter bonds.

At Affinity, we have the experience to help you figure out what you really want from your relationship and to move forward confidently in your decision. Take the first step to clarify your relationship goals by contacting us today.