• 3 Steps to Successful Couples Counseling: Step 3

    3 Steps to Successful Couples Counseling: Step 3

    What Should We Expect During Our Sessions?

    {Read in 4 minutes} “We should have done this years ago,” a client remarked after leaving his first Couples session. “Why did we wait so long?”

    Couples work should be about the couples getting to know themselves better first, then each other. Many people are worried about the stigma, the money, the time involved. But mostly, they simply worry about how others will react to admitting they are using a therapist for help.

    Most people do not realize that couples work is NOT covered by insurance. Why? It is not considered an illness by the DSM, therefore, since insurance covers illness, and Couples Work is about wellness, you will pay out of pocket. But remember, all prevention work, healthy food, workouts, stress relief, or for that matter, anything that makes you feel better, such as getting your nails and hair done, plastic surgery, doggy daycare, is often money spent before your committed relationship.

    And every couple needs help. Since we only have our own parents, possibly grandparents, as mentors, what do we know except what we see? Repeating family behaviors around conflict, emotions or respect is common and usually unconscious. We often become defensive and fearful about what to do when our expectations are not met.

    Although most sessions are typically an hour, couples get the most out of their time with their therapists or coach, if they concede to the realization that this is a learning experience in understanding and communication. It may take them 10 weeks or 10 months, as long as they are getting something out of it and enhancing their relationships.

    Everyone brings three things into their primary relationship:

    Gender Differences. They do exist, even though we think they don’t. As a woman, do you open the car door for your partner? Why not? Did you wear a white dress when you married? How do I believe a “wife/husband” should behave or how did you behave when you were dating that may be different then when you got married?  Issues around sex, chores, and children?

    Personality differences. Introvert, extrovert. Someone who stays on schedule, somebody who is just lackadaisical. These are some of the things that make us different, and influence how we perceive the world and ourselves. Most people don’t really understand themselves, let alone their partner. Throughout our marriages, we often try to recreate our partner in the image of ourselves.

    Family baggage. Anything and everything we have brought into the relationship. What we learned from the time we were old enough to hear somebody say ”no” for the first time. How our parents got along; how they didn’t. How we responded to them, how they responded to us. What our parents told us about the other or what mental/emotional illness may have prevailed.

    Knowing what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy; setting up boundaries; and learning how not to shut down when your partner wants to talk to you, are skills that many people have not mastered. There are so many aspects of their own communication that people are not aware of. Everybody assumes they are speaking clearly, but most of the time, they’re not. They’re saying the words, yet often their partner doesn’t understand what they really mean.

    So why not learn these essential skills \before you have to end a lifelong journey with your partner?

    It will save you a lot of heartache, time and money in the end.



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