It's most distressing when two decent people are in a committed relationship and unable to relate in peace and harmony. Many relationships are in jeopardy because the couple does not know how to deal with their incompatibilities. Unfortunately, the situation does not have to be this way. No matter how bad your relationship is, or what has occurred, it can be improved if two conditions exist, goodwill and knowledge. You must supply the goodwill. If you supply the good will, then we will supply the knowledge. Your interest in improving the relationship (good will), combined with our knowledge of human nature and couple dynamics will result in you changing your relationship.
Unlike individual therapy, couple therapy usually consists of conjoint interviews. If your partner will not go see a therapist, then on your own, without any help from your partner, you can improve and maybe save your relationship. An experienced therapist will provide you with some ideas to interest your partner in counseling.
In general couples therapy can be categorized into four separate but related areas of clinical endeavor:
- Premarital. This is preparation for marriage where the therapists provide education and guidance to the couple. The couple evaluates their compatibility and ability to solve problems together.
- Marital. This is still a learning procedure but here the couple changes their concepts about themselves, their movement towards each other, and toward life. They must get out of the fight in order for change to occur.
- Divorce. Divorce is a continuation of the marriage. Couples can go from an unhappy marriage to a miserable divorce if the conflict and resentment are not reduced. This process may involve deciding if you want to stay together, how to end the relationship, and building a new life. We encourage couples to mediate their differences (How To Navigate Your Divorce With Confidence) but when necessary we have several attorneys interested in your families' welfare.
- Remarriage/Blended Families. Remarriage has its own unique concerns. Most importantly you want to avoid creating another troubled marriage. There is also a new set of challenges with your children. Upon remarrying everything is doubled in terms of cooperation: in-laws, children, aging parents, ex-spouses, on-going litigation, and financial concerns from the previous marriage and/or divorce.
SAVE THIS MARRIAGE
In some cases where a couple is so discouraged and contemplating divorce, we advise meeting with both Geri and Tim. We recommend this occur in a relaxed atmosphere, such as on a Friday morning and over an extended period of time. Often traditional therapy, with its once a week, 50-minute sessions, is not sufficed in resolving the marital concerns. During this two to four hour session you will gain information and knowledge in terms of how to save your marriage and in some cases the proper way to end a relationship.These sessions are not covered by insurance. This is less expensive than a divorce, and if you do decide to divorce, we often can reduce the conflict enough so you can use mediation. Which is significantly cheaper. This is an investment in yourself, relationship, and family. Your partner is the most significant person in your life even when things are going poorly. Divorce is 85% emotional and 15% legal.
Our Approach to Couples Therapy
Our approach is to help the client better understand why he/she was attracted to his/her spouse; why and how he/she experiences conflict; and what his/her chances are of doing something to improve the relationship.
How do we begin?
In the initial interview we gather background information and explore the troubled areas. We find the discord is usually in two or more of the following areas; work, friendships, leisure time, sex, children, finances, in-laws, or religion. Next, we establish their willingness to work at their marriage. We explain the we believe in short-term therapy: that is, we feel that in six to eight sessions they will be able to make a judgment on their “together” experience. Often the first task is to reduce the conflict and create a friendly atmosphere. We do this by replacing external control psychology with connecting choices using the newer psychologies.
How do we do it?
The Private Pact: Often the marriage therapist needs to explain the Private Pact or unspoken agreement between partners. This Pact is never consciously articulated or even understood until it is pointed out to a client. Nevertheless, it is an agreement, and it forms the basis for the attraction of the two persons to each other. In our sessions, we detail the process of the attraction and the nature of the Private Pact.
Number One Priorities: An integral part of our approach is to establish the number one priority of our clients. There are five basic themes which seem to emerge regularly: The need to control; The need to be Superior or Significant; The need to Please; and the need for Comfort; The need for Fun and Excitement. A sixth and seventh observation is sometimes evident: the role of the Victim and Martyr. After the dominant theme in the personality is uncovered, the negative and positive aspects are discussed. We have found that a couple’s number one priority becomes particularly clear at a time of great stress and conflict.
Life Style Assessment: A Life Style is identified and assessed by investigating the individual’s family constellation and interpreting his early recollections. A Life Style Inventory enables the therapist to discover the client’s basic orientation toward life. A Life Style is based on a person’s private logic and develops out of the person’s life plan. Out of this plan emerges the life style, which – like a musical theme – accompanies the individual through life. In other words, the individual creates his/her own convictions about what he/she can expect of life. Another way of saying it is: “I am”; “the World is”; and therefore, “Life is”.
Conflict Resolution: We deal with marriage problems using four principles of conflict resolution: (1) showing mutual respect, (2) pinpointing the issue, (3) reaching a new agreement, and (4) participating in decision-making. Every marriage conflict involves a violation of one or more of these principles.
Actualizing the Marriage: Actualizing the marriage means not settling for peaceful co-existence, but growing individually together in a dynamic relationship in which the potential for love, understanding, caring, excitement, and intimacy can be realized. Dialogue between spouses in an atmosphere of confidentiality and trust leads to the discovery that they are experiencing themselves and each other anew. One of the challenges of marriage is how are we going to make life interesting as a couple. This may include ways to increase your desirability, eroticism, and sex life.