Relationships are hard work (cue the eye roll). It’s a cliché, yes, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. Friendships, relationships with family members, and, especially, romantic relationships all take work. Oftentimes a lot of work. But sometimes, you can put all the work possible into a relationship, and it can still go poorly. What do you do then when you feel like you’re out of options?
Couples therapy could help you if you feel trapped by a repeating argument or continued miscommunication with your partner. Bad habits are easy to form yet difficult to break, and it’s especially true with bad relationship habits. Couples therapy can help both you and your partner break these poor, entrenched relationship habits. Habits that only become more challenging to break on your own, particularly as you age.
What is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy – also known as marriage counseling or relationship therapy – is a form of therapy that supports people in romantic or intimate relationships. While your relationship is the focus of any couples therapy session, both partners should pay close attention and focus on their own self-improvement individually. Individual improvement is necessary for both parties to strengthen the relationship as a whole.
There are several approaches a counselor can use for couples therapy, including Imago Relationship Therapy, Internal Family Systems, the Gottman Method, and more. At Compassionate Minds, Betsy is a Gottman-trained couples therapist.
Each method works slightly differently but has similar goals in mind. Every method seeks to help the couple improve your relationship through helping you resolve specific issues such as:
- Communication problems
- Sexual difficulties
- Conflicts around child rearing or blended families
- Substance abuse
- Frequent conflict or high-stress levels
- Financial issues
- Power struggles
- Major life adjustments
What is the Gottman Method?
Doctors John and Julie Schwartz Gottman developed the Gottman Method in the 1980s. It is an approach to couples therapy that includes a thorough assessment of the relationship and integrates research-based interventions. The goals of Gottman Method couples therapy are to:
- Disarm conflicting verbal communication
- Increase intimacy, respect, and affection
- Remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations
- Create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship
As your therapist guides you through the Gottman Method, you’ll work with your partner to cultivate the nine components of a healthy relationship. These nine components make up the Sound Relationship House Theory. To build the nine components of the Sound Relationship House, you must:
- Develop Trust
- Strengthen Commitment
- Build Love Maps
- Share Fondness and Admiration
- Turn Towards Instead of Away
- Focus on the Positive Perspective
- Manage Conflict
- Make Life Dreams Come True
- Create Shared Meaning
How Can the Gottman Method Help?
According to Dr. John Gottman, “Although you may feel your situation is unique, we have found that all marital conflicts fall into two categories: Either they can be resolved or they are perpetual, which means they will be part of your lives forever, in some form or another.”
Per Gottman, 69 percent of marital problems are perpetual problems. Gottman Method Couples Therapy focuses on these perpetual problems. Additionally, the Gottman Method is built for all kinds of couples. The Gottmans designed their therapy to support couples across economic, racial, sexual orientation, and cultural sectors.
Couples with “normal” levels of conflict may also benefit from Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Gottman-trained therapists aim to help couples build stronger relationships and healthier methods to cope with typical relationship issues as they arise in the future.
Who Can Benefit from Couples Therapy?
Are you in a relationship? If so, then you can benefit from couples therapy. It doesn’t matter if you’d consider yourself happy in your relationship or not. Chances are couples therapy could help both you and your partner improve your relationship.
Because there will always be tension or conflict in a relationship, many are unsure when to seek couples therapy. The reality is, it’s never a bad time to seek couples therapy and bolster your relationship. But most couples therapists suggest it’s best to seek couples counseling as soon as real discord enters your relationship.
Like most situations in life, it’s best to deal with any relationship issue before it turns into a full-blown crisis. Per Good Therapy, many couples only consider relationship counseling until an issue has persisted for an average of six years. If you wait this long to seek help, it only makes it more arduous to repair or resolve that issue.
But couples therapy isn’t just for those with serious issues in their relationship. Couples therapy can be beneficial for those who’ve made a commitment or resolution for the future of their relationship. For example, couples counseling can help you increase intimacy with your partner or prepare you for difficulties you may experience in marriage before you’re married.
To summarize, it doesn’t matter where you are or what issues you’re dealing with as a couple; chances are couples therapy can improve your relationship. And if you’re thinking about contacting a couples therapist, don’t wait! The longer it takes you to address certain issues, the more entrenched these issues become.
If you’re interested in couples therapy but don’t know where to start or have further questions, contact a Compassionate Minds therapist. Our team of licensed experts is equipped to help you through multiple issues, including those treated through couples therapy. At Compassionate Minds Therapy, we work with each of our patients to create an individual treatment plan that works best for you at a time that’s most convenient for you.