UNMET NEEDS, UNFULFILLED EXPECTATIONS
All couples have problems of some kind. A helpful way to think about a couple relationship is to think about the interactions that create that relationship. Dan Wile, a respected therapist, author, and lecturer in Oakland, California states: “When you choose a partner, you’re choosing a particular set of problems. And if you choose a different partner, you’re choosing a different set of problems. In essence, Wile is saying, “Choose a partner you’re willing to learn how to solve problems with.”
Most couple relationship problems have their origins in unmet needs and/or unfulfilled expectations. Arguments and/or withdrawing from each other are symptoms that belie the couple’s unmet needs and/or unfulfilled expectations. When this happens, couples feel disconnected from each other, often reporting that the spark is gone, that they argue about the same thing over and over with no resolution, or that they are living like roommates. For example, when in this disconnected state, she feels deprived of her needs at the same time he feels deprived of his needs. In this state of deprivation, neither is able to give what the other needs. It’s a circle with no beginning or end. The source of disconnection and disengagement is most often due to a desire for affirmation – the assurance of being valued, appreciated, cared for – that is not being fulfilled.
I help couples see themselves not as individuals attached to one another, but as co-creators of their relationship. My approach to couples therapy is to help couples communicate with each other about their desire to be valued and appreciated. When partners feel valued and appreciated, they are willing to cut each other slack, to accept imperfection. When successful, couples feel understood, valued, and connected. Sameness is not a requirement for this to occur.
SOME COMMON COUPLE ISSUES & PROBLEMS
The list below is not comprehensive or definitive, but do any of the following describe your couple relationship or how you feel about it:
- We drag each other down – when one is upbeat, the other is on a downer.
- Differences get in the way – curious/inventive vs consistent/cautious, efficient/organized vs laid back/careless, outgoing/energetic vs solitary/reserved, friendly/compassionate vs analytical/detached, sensitive/nervous vs secure/confident
- We can’t or don’t communicate
- Fight about the same things over and over with no resolution
- The need to be right
- Sarcastic, passive aggressive
- Feel resentful
- Double standards
- Too familiar/comfortable – doing things you would never do before you became exclusive, but you do it now
- Incompatible on paper, but love each other
- Trust issues – lack of maturity, inability to set and honor boundaries, dishonesty in word and action,
- Value differences – setting common goals
I have specific training in Couples Therapy, and I can help you understand your relationship, appreciate each others’ needs, teach you new couple skills, and how to use them to accept differences and solve problems to make your relationship more satisfying. Even if your spouse or significant other is skeptical about coming to therapy, you can come yourself and learn and contribute to your relationship in positive ways. I accomplish this by helping couples of all types communicate better, respect and accept difference, and learn to confidently solve problems together. If you are a couple, whether married or unmarried, preparing for marriage, considering marriage or not considering marriage, newlywed, engaged, dating, same-sex, cohabiting, divorced, separated, or considering divorce, I can help.