• Do you sometimes feel as though you and your partner are speaking different languages?
• Are you worried that your relationship is on the verge of ending – or does a part of you hope it will?
• Has your relationship suffered from a serious breach in trust, such as an affair?
• Do you want to take the next step in your relationship, such as moving in together, getting married or having children, but your partner doesn’t seem to be on the same page?
• Are you feeling like you chose the “wrong person”?
• Does your relationship lack physical affection and intimacy?
• Do you wish you could feel heard, understood and loved for who you are?
Building and maintaining a nourishing relationship can be difficult. Maybe you believed that you found “the one” when you met your partner, but now even the smallest interactions feel strained, making you wonder if you were mistaken or even tricked. You and your partner might fight about money, co-parenting or the distribution of the household chores. Maybe you feel as though you are always bickering, while your needs remain unheard and unmet. Or, perhaps you and your partner avoid conflict, leading to long silences and unspoken strain. You may even be afraid to tell your partner how you really feel.
You may see other couples having romantic dinners or special getaways and wonder why your relationship can’t be so carefree. Perhaps you feel like failure, and you struggle with doubts about your own worth and value. You may feel defined by your relationship and believe that you will be nothing if it ends. Or, maybe you think you want to leave, but you are afraid of being the “bad guy” or worry what will happen to your partner. Maybe you and your partner are intimate more and more rarely, causing feelings of betrayal, hurt and confusion, especially if you suspect that your partner is attracted to someone else or reliant on porn. You might feel utterly alone, even when your partner is sitting beside you. Or, you may want to have a sexual relationship, but you feel almost “too comfortable” with your partner and can’t seem to see him or her in a sexual way anymore.
Many couples struggle to communicate and connect with one another. In our modern society, so many people are taught to look for “the one.” While the concept of your single soul mate may be romantic, it can also be deeply harmful and stunt the growth of truly healthy, supportive and lasting relationships. In today’s world, it is also easy to compare your relationship with others and feel that you end up lacking, especially on social media. However, it is important to remember that that couples who always posts pictures of smiles, hugs and kisses may actually be experiencing turmoil below the surface. Increasingly easy access to porn can also skew a person’s picture of a fulfilling sex life.
Real life relationships can be full of love and happiness and even be romantic at times, but they also require work, compassion and mutual understanding. A relationship doesn’t have to end just because it calls for effort. And, most importantly, you are not a failure because your relationship has hit some bumps in the road.
So often, partners try to express their wants and needs in a language that the other person simply lacks the tools to understand. Many partners choose each other because they see an opportunity to mend old wounds and confront unresolved issues. For example, if you have always been the caretaker in your family, even as a child, you may continue to take on this role in your romantic relationships, even if you actually wish that your partner would take care of you.
This desire to find healing in your partner may be unconscious, and it can actually lead to negative interactions, mutual triggering and re-traumatization. Maybe that partner who you are taking care of has felt coddled his or her entire life and wants to take care of you, but just doesn’t know how to break out of entrenched patterns. Thankfully, there is hope for positive change and real, mutual healing.
Couples Counseling Can Help You and Your Partner Connect and Heal
Since 1991, I have helped couples of all backgrounds and orientations come to understand one another. Human beings are not meant to be solitary creatures, and our relationships are incredibly important to our mental, emotional and physical well-being. Your relationship should be a soft place to fall – a place in which you can be vulnerable, open and comfortable showing your true self. We all need support navigating the difficulties and disappointments of the outside world, especially in the often fast-paced climate of San Francisco. Regardless of the issues that have brought you into counseling, you and your partner can create that soft place.
In couples counseling sessions, I will help you and your partner see one another in a new light. The first part of couples counseling is the assessment phase, and although assessment is ongoing throughout counseling, early on, I will help you both figure out how your history is playing itself out in your relationship. People often choose partners who remind them of the people who traumatized them in an unconscious effort to turn back the clock and heal those old hurts. I can help you build a bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind so that you can work toward healing and wholeness in your future.
I can also help you begin to identify the needs that you are relying on your partner to meet, even those you may not have been able to recognize before. Much of what I do will be translating what each of you are trying to get the other one to hear. I will also be interpreting the unconscious plans playing out in your everyday actions. Throughout your life, you have learned and internalized so much information – some true, some not – about yourself from caretakers, parents and teachers. You have learned methods of relating with others and protecting yourself. And, your partner has learned his or her own methods. However, some of that information and those methods may not work in a loving relationship. With help and guidance, you and your partner can begin to recognize and dismantle those old patterns and seek new paths forward together. In addition to assessment, translation and interpretation, I will give you some directives – things to help the two of you move forward and increase understanding and intimacy.
With work and effort, you can create the relationship that you long for. You and your partner can develop a fulfilling, loving and lasting bond based on compassion, care and understanding. You can develop ways to communicate your needs to your partner in a language that he or she understands. There is hope for a healthy and happy future with the one you care about.
You may believe that couples counseling is the next step toward connection and satisfaction in your relationship, but still have questions or concerns…
I invite you to consider the emotional and mental cost of attempting to hold your relationship together by the seams. Living with constant disagreement and hurt can affect every aspect of your life, from your performance at work to your physical health. If you have children, you may be teaching them that relationships are built on conflict or avoidance. And, if your relationship continues to disintegrate, divorce and break-ups can be incredibly expensive and time-consuming, with both legal fees and the division of belongings.
I will work to make sure that couples counseling fits your schedule. I offer Skype sessions to those who can’t make it to the office, as well as different scheduling options so that you can use your time as effectively as possible.
I’m worried that counseling will just lead to a break-up.
In my practice, the majority of the couples I see stay together. However, discovering that you and your partner have irreconcilable differences during therapy is a possibility. There are many different ways to separate. Some couples break-up with screaming, fighting and tears. Others are able to part ways amicably. Through couples counseling, you and your partner can develop greater empathy toward one another while developing healthy ways to communicate and listen. Even if you find that your relationship cannot last, therapy can guide you through conscious uncoupling and help you separate with peace and mutual respect.
My partner and I should be able to do this by ourselves.
Relationship conflicts can feel very private, and you may by wary of sharing your problems, especially if they are intimate. I will never judge you for the thoughts, feelings and fears you share during our sessions. And, the presence of a removed third party can help you and your partner gain a new perspective on your relationship. My experience and expertise helps me see the invisible and hear the unsaid. I can serve as a translator when you and your partner find it difficult to express yourselves or feel heard. No relationship is perfect behind closed doors, and there is nothing wrong with seeking guidance and support.
You and your partner can find ways to listen to and heal one another. If you are ready to reconnect in your relationship, I invite you to call me at (415) 294-5007 for a free 15-minute phone consultation to ask any questions you have about couples counseling and my practice.