"We live in the shelter of each other." - Irish Proverb
We expect a lot from our partners these days: lover, best friend, playmate, confidante, co-parent, homemaker, financial partner and more. Our closest relationship tends to shoulder the responsibility for the majority of our support and connection. As a result, they can feel stressed and strained rather than a safe sanctuary.
The quality of our relationships matter.
Secure attachment between people provides a safe haven; a retreat from the world and a way to obtain comfort, security, and buffer stress. When couples are happy and securely attached, both partners feel comfortable asking to have their needs met.
When couples find themselves “stuck” or “in a rut” or constantly arguing, it’s often the result of a breakdown in emotional safety. When we feel disconnected from the ones we love, we panic. Through our words and actions, we are really asking the big questions:
Can I count on you?
Are you there for me?
Do I matter to you?
Am I valued and accepted by you?
“For all of us, the person we love most in the world, the one who can send us joyfully into space, is also the person who can send us crashing back to earth. All it takes is a slight turning away of the head or a flip, careless remark. There is no closeness without this sensitivity…But when we don’t feel safe and connected, these moments are a spark in a tinder forest. They set fire to the whole relationship”.
– Sue Johnson
When a relationship is rocky, we don’t always know how to ask for what we need. We may turn to coping strategies that further alienate us from our partner. For example, becoming critical as we try to force our partner to respond. We might withdraw, shut down, and pull away in order to avoid further conflict. These instinctive but maladaptive coping strategies often lead to negative patterns of interaction.
The average couple endures six years of conflict in their relationship before seeking help. Seeking counselling earlier rather than later is important in building a maintaining a healthy, connected relationship.
Issues we can work on in couples counselling:
infidelity or a breach of trust
considering separation or divorce
non-monogamous / open relationships
sex and intimacy
mental health challenges
When working with couples, I use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to help partners move out of their negative cycle of interaction and into a positive one that fosters love, safety, and emotional connection.
EFT applies to all forms of couples regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
What if my partner doesn’t want to attend counselling?
If you think couples counselling would be helpful for your relationship, talk with your partner about it. Discuss the value of investing in the longevity of your relationship through counselling.
That being said, counselling doesn’t work if someone doesn’t want to participate – even if they are one half of a relationship. All parties have to be willing to show up and join the conversation.
Remember that you can attend therapy on your own. Individual counselling can have a beneficial effect on the relationship.
Click below to reach out and make an appointment.