Stephen and Jill have been together for several years. They each have a child from previous relationships and one together. Stephen works in a bank while Jill runs a small diner in downtown Chicago. Between their careers, their busy schedules running the kids to school and sports activities, and the demands of being homeowners, they seldom have the time or energy to spend more than a few minutes each evening together. Both feel that they have simply grown apart, but their love remains. They are not sure how to get back to how things were, to the bond they once had, but desperately want to. What can be done to help them?
Couples and Partners
- Financial concerns
- Unmet emotional needs
- Differing ideas about child-rearing
- Role confusion
- Cultural differences
By exploring why each is experiencing dissatisfaction in the relationship, hidden issues can be brought into the light and resolved.
So, shouldn’t couples still in love be able to just talk through their issues together?
A key reason has to do with a breakdown in communication. Although the reasons for divorce run the gamut from arguments to infidelity, all have one big thing in common: A breakdown in communication. One of the best ways to help couples with communication issues is called Emotionally Focused Therapy.
When a couple finds that their communication suffers, it is not long before other elements of their relationship experience problems. Slowly, over time, they “grow apart.” When this happens, disagreements over relatively minor things can result. Distrust grows. Feelings get hurt, and this results in even less communication. One or both may seek solace in a friend or co-worker, which often leads to infidelity.
Even if that does not happen, both grow increasingly dissatisfied with the relationship and the love they formerly had begins to die.
About Couples Counseling/Therapy
My work with you is to improve communication, provoke positive emotional change, and address recurring obstacles in your relationship history. Through active, objective listening, I tailor my approach to your unique problems.
Some of the ways we do this together include:
- Implementation of enhanced tools for empathy and understanding.
- Helping each of you develop more effective communication skills.
- Heal past wounds that get in the way of how you feel towards one another.
- Training to help each partner take responsibility for perceptions and projections.
- Enhanced understanding of the dynamic driving a wedge between you and your partner.
- We will create shared interests (couples who play together stay together).
- We will work to enhance your friendship.
- You will become closer, physically, and emotionally.
- You will attain love, affection, and joy in your relationship.
During Proactive Couples Therapy, I provide education and facilitate openness to build and strengthen the foundation of your relationship—developing trust, communication, and techniques for mutual support.
I work with couples who are engaged to be married, making a long-term commitment, moving in together, buying a house, planning a family, or navigating other major life transitions together.
As a caring, neutral advocate for your individual and relationship goals, I help you explore and talk openly about emotional topics like finances, in-laws, and intimacy, within a safe space and with positive growth in mind.
The goal is for you to enter into your commitment with confidence, intimacy, and the ability to manage any future challenges together. You and your partner can identify potential areas for future conflict or distress and learn skills to proactively address them. Together, we can navigate concerns and areas for growth as you prepare for your lifelong journey together. Some of what we do together to build the right foundation for your future includes:
- Explore the meaning of marriage/commitment
- Develop a relationship contract
- Share lifelong goals and mutual expectations
- Build a secure and functioning relationship
- Becoming aware of each other’s attachment styles
- Make decisions and plans regarding parenthood
- Manage differences in financial habits
- Explore areas of difference in
– families of origin
– in-law relationships
– religious differences
– parenting styles
– work expectations
– communication styles
Strengthening, improving, re-establishing, or healing relationships takes mutual commitment, time, and energy. I offer empathetic listening, reflection, concrete techniques, and advocacy as we explore topics like:
- Intimacy, differing sex drives, infidelity, sexual compatibility
- Anger, resentment, trust, jealousy, impaired communication
- Finances/Disagreement over how to spend money
- Parenting, pregnancy, infertility, adoption
- Relationships with in-laws/family of origin, aging or ill parents, caregiving
- Careers, responsibility, and partner roles
- Life transitions: pregnancy, new parenthood, illness, death, layoff, relocation, empty nest
- Differences or changes in culture, finances, communication, emotional regulation, personality, expectations
- Disappointment, control, power, loneliness
- Substance abuse, addiction, or dependence
By supporting both partners in becoming aware of and taking responsibility for issues stemming from early or past experiences, couples gain a greater understanding and confidence in themselves and one another.
When I work with couples to address issues of sex, I help you explore both physical and emotional issues together.
- Regain trust and intimacy after infidelity
- Adjust to changes in sexual response over time
- Respect and address different sex drives
- Understand how religious beliefs may impede sexual desire
- Re-establish lost sexual connections
- Overcome shame or body image issues
There are nine components to what the Gottmans call The Sound Relationship House from partners making mental maps of each other’s world to learning how to break through relationship gridlock.
One of the reigning insights of the science-based approach is the dynamics of relationship systems: Negative emotions like defensiveness and contempt have more power to hurt a relationship than positive emotions have to help a relationship.
The goals of the Gottman Method include:
- increasing closeness and friendship behaviors
- addressing conflict productively
- building a life of shared meaning together.
This structured therapy focuses on developing understanding and skills so that partners can maintain fondness and admiration, turn toward each other to get their needs met (especially when they are hurting), manage conflict, and enact their dreams—and what to do when they mess up (because everyone does).
Each person in a relationship thrives when they feel secure that the other person will be there for them. When we don’t feel safe and secure, we act and react in ways that damage our relationship.
Emotionally focused couples therapy helps each partner break out of common negative relationship patterns (such as the pursuer-distancer pattern) and to learn healthy dependence.
The goal of this therapy is to help couples break the communication patterns that are harming their relationship and replace these patterns with healthy communication methods. This restores security in the bond that they share.
How I help
For instance, one or both parties to a relationship may have individual issues which are causing harm in their relationship. Perhaps they need individual counseling or as a couple may need Emotionally Focussed Couples therapy. In other words, I do not use a one-size-fits-all approach; rather, I tailor my therapy to the needs of the couple.
In the course of the last decade, I have helped hundreds of clients with beautiful outcomes. If you are still reading, congratulations. You have taken the first step towards a healthy relationship.
To take the next step, Contact me now at (312) 899-1120