You’re no longer on the same page…
Lisa: It feels like we speak different languages – it’s such a lonely detached state of being.
Jeff: No matter what I do, it’s never good enough for her. Our conversations just go in circles and accomplish nothing.
Lisa: I try to sit down with him and explain things – he’s just so cold and tried to brush me off.
Jeff: I come home from work, and she hits me with her issues from the day. I will provide some possible solutions to her. She just gets mad at me. Why bother asking for my help if she’s just going to get angry?
Lisa: He’s not supportive and treats me like a client at work or something. I thought he was supposed to be my husband, not my lawyer.
Jeff: I’m not a mind reader. If you ask for help, and I give it to you – how can you get angry at me? It feels like a mind game that I’m always going to lose.
Lisa: When I’m sad, sometimes I cry myself to sleep. He sleeps like a baby. I don’t even think he loves me.
Jeff: I’m stumped…
Lisa: I’m lost…
Whether you’re married, dating (need help deciding whether to seal the deal), thinking about ending things, or struggling to negotiate needs in the relationship, I can help.
Waiting only lets the dysfunction cement into the unspoken agreement of the relationship, despite the fact you disagree.
Don’t sweep things under the rug.
The little things become big things – small fights are better than relationship-ending fights… Like fights stemming from betrayal.
Unmet needs don’t always stay unmet.
Turning a blind eye to your better judgment – letting too many things slide can lead to… “The signs were there, and I ignored them. I should have known.”
Ignoring issues can fuel horrible and devastating judgment calls.
Don’t let it get there – the ability to trust again isn’t exactly within a person’s control. Seriously, the instincts can take over – when there are too many violations of trust, it may not be possible to assuage the fear of betrayal.
To further complicate matters, partners tend to be quite impatient about the timeframe to rebuild trust. To rebuild trust successfully, will require enough evidence of trust and reliability over a long period – enough evidence to overcome the survival instincts of the partner’s perceived threat to their security.
To illustrate how long it may take to trust again, consider this thought experiment, how many times would you need to jump out of an airplane before doing so without fear?
In situations where there is little to no change in the person who violated trust – or, for whatever reason, the partner interpreted the violation as profoundly disturbing – it may be more appropriate to use a more intense thought experiment as a gauge. How many times would you need to go into active battle before doing so without fear?
Best not to let things get there. Sometimes couples can overcome these issues, and sometimes not. Regardless – I will do everything I can to help do what’s most comfortable and helpful to the relationship. After all, the client in these cases is the relationship. There will be no taking of sides.
Married to someone… or to love itself?
One of the most common complaints in struggling marriages is, “I fell out of love.” And if you think about it: If marriage is based on love, and that love doesn’t exist anymore… what’s the point? Why not divorce?
When looking at successful marriages, it becomes obvious that love can’t be enough. Hollywood teaches us to expect sparks in relationships – so, when they’re not there, relationships can feel more like a burden than a benefit.
Marrying for love is like marrying for money, sex, beauty, or status. Sure, they might be exciting initially, but they’re hardly a foundation for a stable future.
That’s why all these are notoriously famous for being “a bad idea.”
Marriage gets tough when the romance wears off.
Things tend to be most exciting in the beginning. The butterflies in the stomach, unexpected love messages, and fuzzy feelings are intoxicating. These feelings may come easy at first, but they take work to maintain.
The sparks can fade. The hopes, dreams, and fantasies of growing old together you experience while dating can become distant memories.
Communication breakdowns… misunderstandings… disconnection… loneliness…
This is no way to be in a relationship!
Therapy can help you figure out what’s not working.
How did the relationship become the way it is? This is not what I signed up for. Not feeling connected anymore, unresolved anger leaves little room for romance. Fighting, yelling – it needs to stop. Growing apart, not meeting each other’s needs… whatever the issue may be, I can assure you I’ve heard it before.
Sometimes we’ll act as a mediator….
Setting some ground rules that facilitate a meaningful interaction – like speaking in “I statement” and learning to hear what’s being said – practicing reflections of the others person’s words leads to feeling heard and understood.
If things get heated, a neutral party can remain objective when emotions are running high. In these circumstances, being reminded of the purpose of the session could get things back on track.
Sometimes we’ll act as a translator…
It’s common knowledge that the genders are different in their needs. Sometimes men can be too intellectual and miss the boat on understanding a woman’s needs – listening and helping your partner understand more clearly.
Maybe she isn’t looking for you to provide quick solutions. Perhaps she wants to share her experiences with you and be heard, validated, and understood.
Further – describing that the coldness and brushing off of issues may not be with malice. Moreover, it may just be unclear what your needs are.
For example, it may be necessary to spell out exactly what’s needed, even if it feels like it should be obvious to the other – in a respectful and gentle way.
Getting things back to the way they were…
We’ll draw from the Gottman Method (a therapeutic method that can predict marriage success with near-perfect accuracy).
We’ll watch out for his “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse,” the variables behind predicting marital success:
Criticism: Harsh judgments of the other that tend to cause a feeling of defensiveness and resentment.
Contempt: Being mean and disrespectful during communication to make the other feel shame or devalued as a person.
Defensiveness: A tactic that dismisses the other and leaves them feeling unheard and disrespected.
Stonewalling: Potentially the most damaging is “the silent treatment.” This removes all communication and results in intense feelings of disrespect and anger.
Awareness of the “Four Horsemen” and commitment to avoid them at all costs can prevent a relationship from becoming irreparable. We’ll learn all about them.
Relationships can improve drastically with improved communication. Don’t be fooled: It’s not about how the toilet paper goes on the dispenser! We can make things better by creating some ground rules to prevent things from completely falling apart.
To further support the relationship, it may be helpful to find new ways to connect, spend quality time together, and otherwise spice up the relationship again, making it more fun and reminiscent of how things were before!
Are you ready?
As a mental health therapist, I can tell you one thing: Most people would rather die than change… or shoot the messenger after hearing that they need to change.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Small changes can make a huge change in your relationship. I know how difficult relationships can be… but I also know they can be better.
Whether fixing things is possible, I will be here to support you… no matter what.
Call me today for your free consultation. Let’s see how I can help: (561) 717-3227.