Why is everything so hard?
When everything you try to do together seems really hard in your relationship and you just don’t care enough to fight anymore, that’s actually a good time to come to counseling. That sounds crazy, right? But actually I find partners are desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures!
The desperation shows up pretty quickly in therapy. Both partners are seething and ready to tell me why the other one is impossible to live with. What happens early on is a lot of this.
- Talking down to each other
- Name calling
- Angry outbursts
- Withdrawing and not talking anymore
- Saying you’re done with the relationship
- Leaving each other to take care of their own problems
How does therapy help?
- First we help couples remember times when things weren’t so hard. We go back to the beginning. First meeting, first date, first everything. They tell the story of how they started out.
- Then they share what they did back then that made them so happy – how they spoke to each other, how they cared well for each other, what they enjoyed together.
- Part of the first session also sets the framework for the rest of therapy. Therapy reminds couples to cherish each other as the most important person in their lives – to reach for each other with kindness, and to meet each other’s needs.
- Learning to listen to understand each other, postponing your own agenda until you fully understand, and then verbally taking responsibility for where you hurt your partner are other tools we add that help create a positive perspective instead of a negative one.
- Therapy also helps to identify what John and Julie Gottman call “enduring vulnerabilities” – deep emotional wounds like fear of not having control or being controlled, being ignored, or not being accepted that are usually the source of intense conflicts. When partners become aware of their vulnerabilities and those of their partners, a softening toward each other begins to happen. And soft is the opposite of hard and harsh.
- The goal is to minimize the blow ups that create emotional distance and instead to maintain the emotional closeness that makes for an intimate relationship.
What can you do right now to help?
- Show yourself compassion. Staying angry, upset or disengaged has an affect on you. It drains your energy and wastes valuable time.
- Show your partner compassion, too. A softer, gentler approach to each other goes a long way to stop the pain.
- Do what’s within your control to do. You can’t control the reactions of your partner but you can do everything you can to speak gently, make a specific request without criticism, and do the small things that your partner wants you to do with love.
Everything doesn’t have to stay hard even if it is right now. We can help. Give us a call at 850.450.7223 or make an appointment in our secure client portal here https://believehopeinspire.securepatientarea.com/portal/index/default/.
Not quite ready to make an appointment? Maybe you can find more of what you’re looking for in other blogs we’ve written to help Find more here https://believehopeinspire.com/blog/.
In the meantime, care for yourself well and consider how to show up in your relationship in a way that reflects you well – and that makes your proud. That’s a good way to start!
P. Dianne Presley, LCSW
Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC