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Gay Couple Eating Popsicles

Couples Therapy

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Why do couples come to therapy?

“Our relationship is worth saving, and we’re also struggling with the ins and outs of the relationship.”

“We both love and care about each other, want the same things, like companionship, partnership, and have many shared values. But when we bring ourselves, and our histories into our arguments, the same concerns keep coming up. Maybe we need someone to help us get past these concerns.”

“It’s like we’ve lost our spark. It’s not exciting between us anymore, just day in, day out.”

“We want to explore the possibility of opening our relationship, but we’re worried about how that will have an impact on our bond.”

“My partner had an affair, and now I can’t trust them” or “I had an affair, because I’ve been trying to express myself with my partner, and felt like it always went nowhere. I didn’t know what else to do.”

Holding Hands

Do any of these statements sound like your relationship?

How can a therapist help?

A therapist can help you identify your goals for therapy, strengths, obstacles, and with all of that information, they will help you to find your path to your goals.

Individual needs may be related to attachment styles, and learning about each others’ needs can help you to respond to each other in supportive ways. Sometimes, couples struggle with expressing their needs, and also understanding the needs of their partner. What gets in the way? A therapist can help you and your partner(s) sort all of this out.

Understanding and validation

The first obstacle that might be getting in the way of you and your partner sorting through your struggles is understanding. Do you and your partner understand the issue from each other’s perspectives? An exercise you can try with each other, or with a therapist, is to identify each other’s perspectives – how do each of you conceive of the issues you’re facing together? Can you reflect with each other how you think the other sees the situation? How much/little do your perspectives match?

Levels of validation

Validation can be a tricky thing, because it means guessing what the other person is thinking, and feeling. And we can’t always get that right. I know that there have been moments when even I haven’t gotten in right – and I do this all of the time! What matters most is that you’re trying to understand, and show them that. To do this, Marsha Linehan, the developer of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, notes the levels of validation:

The skills I’ve talked about here are common obstacles for couples, and can contribute to their arguments. Learning how to argue, so that you can understand and validate each other, will absolutely help you to build a stronger bond.

Sometimes, couples have deeper concerns, and need help getting to the bottom of them. If this is the case, please get in touch, and let me help you sort through this together.

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