Written by Kate Pauley
Clients often ask me at the end of our first session, “is there anything else we can do at home to improve our relationship more quickly?” The honest answer is yes and no.
There are absolutely things that couples can do at home to improve the way they treat one another and feel in the relationship, however, the work of unraveling old patterns, creating new ones, and truly healing the relationship takes time. Sometimes marriage counseling can feel like a slow process, and that is absolutely okay. When you think about how long you’ve been in your relationship for, often years, sometimes 10, 20, 30 years, it is important to recognize that these patterns will take time to unlearn. Not only that, but if the fix were simple, you would have done it already!
Emotionally focused therapy, the only evidence-based practice for marriage/couples counseling, takes time, but it works. It has about an 80% efficacy rate for couples who stick with it, and so my recommendation is to trust.the.process. Stick with it when it feels slow, stick with it when it’s hard. And, if you want to do some extra work on the side, here is a review of two books from top relationship researchers:
Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson:
Sue Johnson founded Emotionally Focused Therapy, so this book is the perfect compliment when working with an EFT therapist. While the material in the book is great, I don’t love Sue’s writing; I found this book kind of difficult to read. If, however, you can read this book for content rather than good writing, you will find some amazing insights. Sue offers prompts and questions, to sum up, each chapter for partners to reflect on and then talk about. She also explains a lot about the common patterns and interaction cycles that couples may find themselves in which helps readers to identify with and see themselves in her stories.