Are You Feeling Angry, Hurt or Lonely In Your Relationship?
Does it feel like the love and deep connection that once defined your relationship has given way to anger, blame, hurt, and painful conflict? Perhaps you have been fighting too much or, alternatively, not communicating at all. Are you afraid that your partner no longer loves you, is not concerned with your feelings or needs, or would rather being doing anything other than spending time with you? Have you and your partner struggled with sex or other intimate and physical aspects of your relationship? Has the trust in your relationship been threatened or broken by an affair or an addiction? Maybe a significant life transition – such as a new baby, a move or a career change – has added stress to your increasingly fragile connection. Are you longing to reconnect, but feel that your attempts to somehow get spun into arguments, leaving you feeling more lonely, sad and separate from your partner?
Relationships can be hard work, and maintaining them long-term – even those with the strongest of foundations – can sometimes feel like an overwhelming load that you may not be sure that you still want to carry. Life brings unexpected twists and turns that can be tricky to navigate both on your own and with your partner. Children are born, parents die, people move, careers shift. All of these life events can significantly impact your intimate relationship. Negative cycles and patterns develop, fears arise, and connections get stretched thin. And, in the throws of kids and work, it is not unusual for intimacy to gradually slip away. You may wake up one day and realize that it no longer feels like you know the person you married. You may wonder when it was that you last made love, shared an intimate moment, or even made a decision without a fight. Somewhere, somehow, your partner became your opponent – or worse – a stranger.
Many Couples Struggle With Their Relationships
Almost all intimate relationships go through times of increased conflict, disconnection and negative cycles. Life gets in the way of loving relationships. Priorities shift, and couples lose their grasp on what it was that initially brought them together.
Your relationship may have shifted from feeling close and romantic to feeling hectic and hard. But, the shift is reversible. In fact, with help, some couples find that they can make their relationship stronger than it was before.
A Specific Type of Couples Therapy Can Help You Repair And Reconnect
I use Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). Studies show that EFT is the most effective way for couples to work through painful issues and find closeness again. EFT is based on the now proven fact that a strong and loving emotional connection is as basic a human need as food, shelter and sex; and that conflict with an intimate partner can trigger our deepest wounds and make us depressed and anxious. Our partners truly can bring out both the best and the worst in us. When we feel intense emotional pain it is often hard to identify what that feeling is or where it comes from. We only see and feel our anger, so that is what we show our partners. My role as your therapist will be to help you develop a better understanding of your feelings and how they impact the way you relate with your partner. I can help guide you down a path of connection and help you move toward each other, rather than away.
My work with you will involve two stages. The first is the “de-escalation” stage. When we first meet, we will slow everything down so we can see what is underneath the pain, anger and conflict in your relationship. We will look at the ways you and your partner think, feel and act when you are angry or hurt. This can help us identify the dance – or negative cycle – that you and your partner have developed. Slowing everything down can help you and your partner understand what is actually happening for each of you. This understanding can allow you to see each other in a whole new light and reduce the frequency and intensity of your arguments.
Once you and your partner are fighting less frequently, understand the negative cycles you have collectively created, can talk without intense anger and see yourselves as a “we” again, we will begin stage two. In stage two, we will work on changing the negative cycle that is keeping you apart. The goal is to move it out of the way and make room for a level of closeness and safety that you may have forgotten was possible. In time, you can stop fighting so much and find your way back to each other. You can develop a strong bond that can continue to deepen long after our work together has ended.
With genuine support, guidance and a solid roadmap, it is very possible to reconnect with your partner – even if it feels hopeless right now. Your relationship can improve and, in the repair, become stronger than it ever was. Sometimes we are strongest in the places that were once broken. If you break your arm, the healed part of the break often becomes the strongest part. In that same way, the parts of your relationship that feel broken today may one day be the strongest parts of the foundation that holds you together.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
One or both of us fear that you’ll take the other’s side.
I have heard this objection many times. In my view, it points out the difference between a traditional couples therapist and an EFT therapist who specializes in and is trained to work with couples.
I will not take sides because I don’t believe that either you or your partner is to blame. Nor do I believe that you are both to blame. I honestly believe that it is the dance, or negative cycle, that couples create over the length of relationships that prevents them from coming together. I believe that both parties are innocent victims of the dance they have created for themselves.
When you walk in my door, I see your relationship as my client. It is my genuine goal to help you find your way back to each other in a gentle, non-judgmental way that feels good for both you and your partner.
I think that we each need individual therapy before we can even think about doing couples work.
We live in a culture that tells us that we need to be healthy individuals before we can be part of a healthy relationship. But, research tells us that the OPPOSITE is true. The truth is that we are wired from birth to be in relationships with other people. It is when we feel isolated and alone that we get depressed, anxious, sad and angry.
I think we all know that a bad relationship can cause stress, depression and anxiety. But, research tells us that a GOOD relationship can help alleviate stress, depression and anxiety. A healthy relationship can also help reduce PTSD symptoms and heal past trauma. This is not to say that individual therapy is never appropriate. However, when someone comes to me for individual therapy, I often ask that they bring their partner or a close family member or friend because it is almost always more effective.
Our relationship is just too far-gone. It is hopeless. I am not sure that anything – even therapy – can help.
If you are like most couples, even the unhappiest of couples, you have invested a lot of time and emotion into your partner and your relationship. If you CAN save the relationship and if you CAN learn to come together again, the payoff is huge. Many couples who have come back from the brink of breakup report that their relationship is stronger than it could have been had they never gotten to that edge. There are a myriad of reasons not to give up.
I invite you to download my free report, “Three Indicators of the Level Of Connection You Share With Your Partner.”