Most of my couples come to me citing “communication issues”. This means a variety of things: when we talk, we either fight or I don’t feel understood; I feel like we’re on a completely different page; I don’t even know HOW to talk to my partner anymore; I feel so distant from him/her, it’s like we’re not even friends. The bottom line is, we’re not understanding each other (or sometimes even LIKING each other) and it’s killing us.
This situation can be incredibly hard on both partners and can take a toll on their self-confidence, mood, and even health.
What couples do wrong to keep the communication issues going
When the person we have decided to create a life with seems like they are unreachable or inaccessible, it creates so much discord within us. Some of us react by criticizing, nagging, or poking at our partner. We’re trying to figure out “Are you there for me?! Do you love me?!” We’re longing to bring them close, but our anger or frustration only pushes them further away.
Others of us avoid, keep to ourselves, and keep our distance. We worry that if we say anything, it will only make things worse. We feel we can never do anything right. It feels hopeless, and sometimes we stop trying.
A different way to “fix” the communication problem
So, how do we “fix” this problem in therapy, using Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy?
It’s through engaging in these conversations in a new way. As a couple counsellor, I hear the couple’s complaints and arguments – but I focus my attention on the pattern, the underlying cycle that keeps the couple stuck. Through our conversations, couples start to understand and gain insight into WHY their partner triggers them, and why they trigger their partner. Couples learn about themselves, their partner, and how they are actually more important to each other than they had originally thought.
Some clients can’t believe the impact they have on their partner and can’t quite grasp just how much they mean to their partner – it has felt like their partner disliked them all this time! Clients learn to talk to their partner in a new way, to ask for what they need in a way that brings their partner close rather than push him/her away. Over time, couples naturally come together as a team. Their foundation is solidified – both people feel safer in the relationship and more trusting of their partner.
Results from Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy
This process happens organically and experientially over the course of therapy. The changes are profound, however, and tend to be long-lasting. At the start, couples might notice a decrease in the severity of fights. Eventually, couples notice a deeper connection and closeness. Their relationship starts to feel safer, calmer, and more peaceful, like a warm bed they crawl into at the end of a long day.
If you’re struggling in your relationship, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated, now is the best time to start working on your relationship! I’d love to support you in this journey. Click here to book a couples counselling session today at Brentwood Counselling Centre.
By Jena Tharani