Do You Find Yourself Having The Same Argument With Your Partner Again And Again With No Resolution In Sight?
Have you started to dread your partner walking through the door on some nights because you expect an argument? Do you go to sleep feeling disconnected and dissatisfied with your relationship? Do you feel like your partner just does not understand you?
All couples encounter bumps in the road. The most common areas of conflict are around money, sex, parenting and issues of power and control in the relationship. The problem is not the conflict, but how you approach conflict. The goal of therapy is to learn to manage conflict effectively because conflict comes up in all relationships. I can point out the patterns which are destructive to your relationship and teach you new ways to interact. I will help you develop new skills to improve your ability to listen and be heard by your partner.
All Couples Experience Conflict In Their Relationship
Communication problems are the #1 issue reported by couples seeking therapy. According to John Gottman, expert therapist on what makes a relationship work, happy and healthy couples demonstrate an optimal ratio of 5:1 positive to negative behaviors in their communication. This means that when happy couples communicate, there are five times as many positive interactions between them such as listening; validating the other person; using soft words; expressing appreciation, affirmation, physical affection; and giving compliments as there are negative, such as raising your voice, stating a complaint, or expressing anger. Gottman found that among couples on the path toward divorce, for every negative interaction there is less than one positive interaction. A simple way to improve your relationship is to increase your daily positive interactions with your partner.
Gottman also identified four common communication patterns which can lead to the end of relationship: criticism, stonewalling, defensiveness and contempt. He notes that when these hostile responses become routine in your relationship, you are at a higher risk for divorce.
Gottman conducted research on thousands of couples and he can predict with 90% accuracy which couples will divorce. He bases his prediction on the way couples interact on a day to day basis and how they manage conflict. I will work with you to identify the destructive communication patterns in your relationship and help you change them. I have been very successful in helping couples recognize the areas of their relationship that need adjustments and supporting them to make changes. I have been married for 16 years and I know that we all get stuck at times in unproductive patterns. Change can be hard, but it is possible.
Therapy Can Help You Even If You Don’t Believe It Works
Couples therapy is very effective when you are willing to make changes in your relationship. You don’t have to believe in therapy or like coming for therapy to work. I take a very practical and respectful approach to working with couples. My goal is to allow each individual to feel heard. I am trained as a systems oriented therapist which means that I look at every issue as a shared responsibility between both parties. I do not blame one person for the development of negative patterns. Each person contributes to the pattern. I want the therapy to feel balanced, although I know that at times one partner will feel on the hot seat. But, the goal is for each of you to feel heard, respected and hopeful about change.
I have been working with couples for 22 years and I have seen couples heal. I use techniques gathered from John Gottman, Emotional Focused Couples Therapy, Systems Theory of Change, as well as homework assignments focused on setting aside bits of time to practice communication and to connect. I am aware that if you have children time is precious and I tailor our work to fit realistically into your week. Whether you are newly partnered or 30 years into a relationship, I believe all couples can learn new behaviors to grow the level of connection and increase satisfaction in your relationship.
What if we get into the same argument in your office?
I hope that couples will feel safe enough to show me in real time what happens when they disagree. I think it is a waste of money when couples are so fearful of being blamed for their problems that they don’t let their guard down. A real argument provides the perfect opportunity to change patterns. I will provide clear boundaries in the session that allow you to feel safe to address a conflict. I will not allow you to speak in an abusive manner. I will point out negative patterns including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Behaviors – stonewalling, criticism, defensiveness and contempt right in my office and help you reword what you say. The way you approach a conflict or “the start-up” will predict the result of the discussion. When an individual approaches their partner with a harsh start-up like “You always make me feel…..” there is a 96% chance the discussion will not end well.
What if we can’t be helped?
I believe that if you are ready for change your relationship will improve. Small adjustments can bring about big changes. Research shows that clients often feel more hopeful after the initial phone call to set up an appointment.
We have tried therapy in the past and it didn’t work.
Finding the right therapist can take some work. Sometimes you need to speak with a few therapists before you find a good fit. I believe I possess the knowledge, skills and personal characteristics that invite change to happen. I am gentle in my approach and sensitive to pain, which help to create the safety needed to allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Your Relationship Can Get Better
In order to see if I am a good fit, I offer a free 15-minute telephone consultation. Please call me at 215-939-6476 to set up your free consultation now.