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  • When To Go To Couples Therapy

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    What are some signs that you and your partner should go to couples therapy?

    If you two don’t fight well and get mean and disrespectful. Or, if you two have a prolonged silent treatment (a few days) after a fight.

    As a couples therapist, my job is to help you two spend more time in Harmony (connection), less time in Disharmony (disconnection), and know how to Repair to move back into Harmony.

    Also, if you two find yourselves getting into similar patterns and cycles of conflict. If you think, “We always fight about ____,” then a couples therapist can help you work through that issue.

    If it takes you two a long time to repair from disharmony, or you don’t know have an effective way to do so, then you could benefit from couples therapy.

    Can dating couples go to therapy, or is it best for married/committed partners? Should you go if you’ve been together for a certain amount of time?

    Dating couples can go to therapy and it’s a great idea. One reason is because our formal education doesn’t help us with being relational and how to communicate effectively.

    We learn a lot about triangles and parallelograms in high school, but not how to have a healthy relationship and what that means.

    It’s best to go to counseling early because often married couples go when they’ve experienced years of resentment and bitterness.

    What can you expect from couples therapy if you do go?

    You can expect at the beginning, to have the relationship and the negative patterns of interaction be the focal point (focus on disharmony). That’s the place where we want you two to spend less time – if motivated to do so of course.

    A reason we start there is because we’re usually highly motivated to avoid pain.

    Another is because our minds have a negativity bias. We’re more likely to remember negative interactions over positive ones. Couples researcher, John Gottman, says that for every negative interaction couples have, there needs to be five positive ones to offset the build up of negative sentiment.

    So let’s start by avoiding negative interactions.

    Then you may be asked to look at where such selfish patterns come (did you learn this in your family?)

    We also teach tools for repair – tools to move back into harmony. Basic ways to repair and move back into connection are by sharing vulnerability, or a good apology.

    An example of a good apology:

    1. Acknowledge what you did, “I’m sorry for ____.”
    2. Convey how your action felt to your partner, “That must have felt _____when I did that…”
    3.  Share a Plan for how you’re going to avoid that in the future. “I’m going to working hard to avoid doing _____in the future, here’s how…”

    Know that the couples therapist has your best interest in mind.

    Making changes to your stances, creating agreements, and learning how to have difficult conversations may not be super enjoyable, but when you know how to do this, you’ll spend less time is disharmony.

    You’ll know how to repair and stay in harmony longer.

    Finally, you’ll be able to answer this question:

    “What can you do that can make my partner feel loved?”

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