Are you unable to communicate with your partner?

Have there been frequent fights lately?

Feel like something is missing?

Confused whether to hold on or move on?

A lot of couples tend to seek therapy as a final resort or a last ditch attempt when nothing else seems to be working for them. According to a research by Gottman Institute, couples tend to wait a minimum of 6 years of being dissatisfied before they decide to seek help.

It is a commonly held belief that love is enough to conquer all adversities in a relationship. Love is a core requirement for a healthy relationship but it cannot solely hold the relationship up.

We can love a person and still draw apart due to time, different priorities, loss of job, loved one, financial crisis, distance, emotional maturity, changing needs etc.

Sometimes we can love a person and still be toxic for them due to our past experiences, unresolved insecurities, distorted patterns of thinking, ideas of relationship, anger issues, controlling behavior.

For healthy relationships we need to learn skills of open communication & conflict resolution which we are not taught about and mostly learn through hit and trial while in relationships which can be an uphill task alone and one may face multiple challenges traversing the journey of a relationship.

Couples can feel apprehensive about initiating therapy as it would mean acknowledging the challenges that their relationship is undergoing., some are not able to identify where things might be going south for them and end up shoving the problems under the carpet till a significant event- breakdown in communication, decision to separate, cheating or violence doesn’t occur.

What to expect when going for Couples Counseling?

It is normal to have a few bumps in your romantic relationship but are you hitting the rock bottom?
We might have read a lot regarding how online couples counseling can help, at the same time it is not only a savior when you are hitting rock bottom but it is an opportunity to enhance your relationship at any stage of it.

Let us understand in-depth do’s and don’t while looking for a couples therapy.

Do’s Don’ts
Make couples therapy a choice - Autonomy is an individual’s right to self-determination and making his/her own choices and once you make a choice it naturally comes with commitment. It probably means you are committed to working through your relationship. Therefore, step into therapy when it is your choice of commitment. Rush into couples therapy - As couples therapy is a process, we might need to understand that our therapist cannot solve all concerns in one go. Allow some time for your relationship with your therapist to work for the mutually set goal.
Take accountability rather than being defensive - Most of the time we can enter couples therapy with the idea of changing our partner, and in that process, we become either ignorant and defensive of our contribution. Any relationship is a partnership of two people and therefore relationship requires equality on both ends to function well. We need to take accountability for our responses and behavior that can result in change, a change that benefits equally to both partners. Consider your therapist to take sides - The therapist would not take sides but would work on your relationship. The therapist will be non-bias and would facilitate working towards a common goal.
Be consistent with session - Therapy is a process, and therefore we need to be consistent with the sessions and also the assignment, insights, and homework’s which are planned by your therapist keeping in the mind the goals that are mutually decided. Expect the therapist or from your partner to do all the work - The effectiveness of couples therapy lies in collaboration where the therapist and partners take responsibility for their motivation. It is unfair to expect that the therapy would work like magic that will make the problems disappear. Therapy will help you to learn, adapt and move through the process.
Open communication - In a couples therapy open communication and transparency are a must. We go by “WE” including the partners and therapist where your therapist is not a referee in your relationship but a facilitator and a navigator who helps you navigate an adaptive path that is doable and workable. In this process, open communication regarding your emotions and what works and what is not working becomes an important discussion to find an adaptive path! Expect the therapist to be perfect - Therapists are not God but only humans like you! What you can expect from your therapist is to be -non-bias and work towards relationship betterment if there is mutual motivation and consent for the same. If you feel your therapist is not a right fit for you and as a couple you are not able to see changes, share your honest and open feedback to reach a common conclusion.

In the words of Abhijit Naskar, “Compatibility doesn't determine the fate of a marriage, how you deal with the incompatibilities, does.” Therefore, couples counseling will aim for you to deal with the relationship incompatibilities, not towards a perfect relationship!

Causes of Relationship Challenges

Majority of couple concerns fall under the following categories:

  • Personality Clashes - Be it introvert vs. extrovert, spendthrift vs. saver, differences in religious beliefs, core values etc, fundamental individual differences can often turn into recurring conflicts.
  • Communication Patterns - Criticism, verbal abuse, harsh, demeaning words or breakdown in communication can be corrosive to a romantic bond.
  • Love language - Each individual expresses and experiences love in their own unique ways. A mismatch in love language can leave either or both partners feeling uncared for and neglected.
  • Cheating - A betrayal and breach of trust can damage the relationship extensively, however instead of letting it be the end of the relationship, therapy can help using this experience to give the bond a new leash on life
  • Behavioural Issues - Anger outbursts, emotional volatility, smoking, porn, gambling, mastubation tend to snowball into bigger concerns if left unresolved and begin to strain the relationship.
  • Past Baggage - When personal experiences have not been unpacked and worked on, it seeps into the couple dynamics which therapy can help unravel and explore
  • Sexual Incompatibility - Differences in libido, frequency of sexual activity, lack of sexual urges, low interest, varying sexual needs can lead to unmet needs leaving partners feeling undesired and disconnected.
  • Conflict Resolution - Inability to convey concerns, shutting down or aggressively attacking partner while bringing up a conflict leads to more emotional damage to a bond leading to build up of resentment and bitterness towards partner.
  • Trauma - External events like loss of a loved one - parent or child, accidents, major injury, financial ruin or internal events like physical, sexual abuse within relationship can suck the life out of a relationship leaving two estranged people in its wake.
  • Social Media - Believe it or not most couples prefer cradling their phones rather than spending quality time with each other which is bound to bring emotional distance and loneliness within a relationship.

Couples Counseling Session Structure

Counselor might take individual sessions with both partners to understand their perspective and then proceed with a joint couple session to integrate that information to help the couple understand how it shapes their couple dynamics and resolve their challenges.

Individual sessions are conducted to understand the partners separately and their take on the relationship, their partners, concerns, origin, triggers, maintaining factors, past relationship history, patterns in relationships are identified and discussed in detail.
couples therapy is conducted via telephone or video call sessions only at BetterLYF. Certain ground rules are laid out. The primary objective is to explore the relationship in a collaborative manner and to understand how the couple views the challenges of interpersonal intimacy they are facing and the factors involved, barriers for a positive change to get to the root of the issue. Their interactions with each other and the couple dynamics are highlighted and goal setting is carried out.
Follow up sessions are conducted to understand how therapy sessions are progressing and to keep a track of the individual and couple goals, developments and impediments faced. Therapist checks whether couple is able to implement what is discussed in therapy into their relationship.

Couples Counseling Outcome

  • Awareness of individual and couple patterns
  • Healthy communication
  • Effective conflict resolution
  • Deeper understanding of their partner’s needs
  • Enhanced emotional connection
  • Better interpersonal skills

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