Couples Therapy


Posted on April 28th, by Susan Monkman in Articles. Comments Off on Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy

Improve Communication and Enrich Your Relationship

Couples Therapy: Enrich Your Relationship

Happily married but want a deeper connection? Or, tired of arguing and not being understood? I will help you identify harmful patterns that are hindering the intimacy you long for, and discover how past and present life experiences are affecting you, your partner, and your relationship.

Not sure if marriage counseling is for you? Do you just want to ‘tweak’ the good thing you’ve got going? I also offer ”Couple Communication” training which provides instruction on collaborative communication skills that can enhance your relationship. As a couple, you will learn to listen accurately and communicate more clearly so that you can find satisfying solutions to your problems.

Couples decide to come for couples counselling for a variety of reasons. Those who are planning to be married come for pre marriage counseling, while others have been together for many years and want to improve their relationship, enhance parenting skills, or seek help in the midst of a life crisis.

Life events and transitions can stir up overwhelming emotions that affect the quality of a relationship. This may include positive and negative events such as job transitions, unemployment, purchasing a home, the birth of a child, when a child is ill or leaving home for college, or caring for an aging parent. Major crises may also include the death of a parent or family member, or loss of a child through miscarriage, suicide or accidental death, infidelity, separation and divorce as well as numerous other life crises.

There are many underlying issues that affect a relationship. These may relate to unresolved issues or unmet needs in childhood or the current relationship, learned behaviours that parents or caregivers modeled or taught, present day stresses or life transitions, health issues, communication skills, or many other factors. Childhood experiences often impact how each partner communicates or copes with conflict, stress, emotions, etc. I can work with you to identify past and present obstacles that are hindering intimacy in your relationship.

Communication

Many couples struggle with communication problems which contribute to a loss of connection. This can be very frustrating and discouraging. Learning effective communication skills is often the first step to being accurately heard and understood so that areas of concern can be addressed and hope restored.

Relationship Patterns

Unhealthy patterns of relating often develop in a relationship over time. While hurtful, they provide some sense of connection, or meet needs for love and security on some level. Blaming or criticizing from one partner is one approach that is often met with withdrawal from the other partner. This is a common pattern that serves to reinforce insecurities in both partners who then may put up self-protective walls to minimize the pain. By attending to patterns with a relationship counselor you can begin to identify harmful patterns and understand what factors trigger and contribute to behaviours that maintain the pattern, and the impact this is having on you and your partner or spouse.

Trust and Intimacy

Unresolved attachment issues can have a strong impact on trust and stability in a relationship. When a child grows up without having basic needs met for safety and unconditional love, he or she may view the world as untrustworthy or unsafe. This can create insecurity and have a harmful affect on the child’s beliefs about him or herself. A child will learn that certain coping strategies work to fill some of these unmet needs. However, as an adult, these same coping strategies and self-protective ways of relating to others can actually prevent the very intimacy that is so strongly desired. You or your partner may feel powerless to gain the love and security so desired, or resent having to perform or manipulate others to gain acceptance. You or your partner may feel like a failure as a result, or resent attempts or demands to meet needs other than what is willingly offered. Sexual intimacy and a sense of connection can be seriously affected over time as each partner’s fears of abandonment, rejection or failure increase. As author Henri Nouwen (1986) explains in Lifesigns, fear has a powerful affect on all relationships;

“Fear makes us move away from each other to a ‘safe’ distance, or move toward each other to a ‘safe’ closeness, but fear does not create the space where true intimacy can exist” (Nouwen, 1986, p. 18)

Deep currents often flow under the surface of each partner, affecting the health and wellbeing of the individual and the couple relationship. A counselor can help you identify unmet childhood needs and get in touch with the impact this has had on you as a person and your relationship. As couples begin to identify and understand the undercurrents that affect the way they relate to one another, this can have an empowering affect. Self-awareness and new information about your partner can create a ‘light-bulb’ experience, challenge preexisting thoughts and beliefs about yourself, your partner or your relationship. It can also generate hope, address and heal hurts and unresolved anger, and increase the desire to find solutions and strengthen the relationship.

Susan Monkman





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Location: Life Currents Counselling, 325-530 Kenaston Blvd., Winnipeg R3N 1Z4
For appointments or more information call: (204) 471-5245 Email: sue.monkman@lifecurrents.ca
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