A warm and fulfilling relationship with another human being can be the sustaining center of your life. But often conflicting viewpoints and the stresses of day-to-day living get in the way of fully connecting with your partner. Couples therapy is an in-depth approach from an expert clinician, and can be an ideal solution for couples facing serious problems.
A trained couples therapist can help both of you overcome these and many other emotional obstacles, helping you understand each other, and grow together. You can learn to discuss instead of argue, bond rather than talk past each other.
The couples therapists at PARC have decades of experience and can aid you in finding out what is blocking your communication, opening the channels for true connection, and make your relationship a source of strength, love, and comfort.
We offer couples therapy sessions for premarital couples, unmarried couples, and married couples as well as group therapy with other couples. We also offer marriage counseling.
For advice, tips and insight into forming stronger, happier and more rewarding relationships, explore The Couple Shrink Blog.
RELATIONSHIP TIPS FOR COUPLES:
Many different issues drive couples into opposition and the experienced therapists at PARC can deal with these concerns and many more. Here are some tips to help you tackle some of the more common issues that couples face:
1. Talk with your partner in the same room looking at each other.
2. You are having a discussion, so it is important to listen carefully to the totality of what your partner says and not let yourself answer in your head while he/she is talking.
3. Try to listen to what they say from their perspective so that you totally understand what they are saying before you reply.
4. If you are confused by what they say, clarify it before you respond. You can repeat what you thought they said to be sure you have it correctly. Then respond to what your partner said.
5. Criticizing and/or blaming your partner only escalates a tense situation, so try to use “I” statements, “eg. “I feel…” rather than “You always/never…”
6. Try to remember that you and your partner are in this together; you are working towards the same goal and not against each other.
7. If a disagreement persists, try not to raise your voice at your partner or use harsh language.
8. If a disagreement escalates, agree to take some time out with an agreement to come back together again and reengage in the discussion. Take this time to think about what is upsetting you and not to criticize your partner.
9. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Empathy is crucial to effective communication, so ask yourself how you would feel in your partner’s situation, or how you would react to the words being spoken.
10. Go back to step one, but reach out to your partner and say you want to better understand them and what is upsetting them and start again.
Having a baby is a simultaneously wondrous and challenging event for any couple, in which your world is turned completely upside down. Here are some tips to help you strengthen your relationship at this time.
1. There is no “raw end of the deal”. If you’re at home with the baby and your partner is back at work, both of you may find yourselves envying, even feeling resentful of the life each believe the other is living.
Stop! Acknowledge that both worlds have their pluses and minuses. Being envious or resentful of the life the other is living is pointless and damaging. The solution is simply to talk. Tell each other about your days. Ask questions. Ask for advice, opinions, reassurance. Make each other a part of each others’ worlds – even when you’re physically apart.
2. Share the workload. When you’re tired it’s easy to feel you’re shouldering the lion’s share of the workload. Avoid possible resentment by divvying up responsibilities as equally as possible. Decide in advance who will do what and when.
For example, if bottles are an option, then take turns with night-feedings. Don’t become the parent who “always” changes the diaper, or soothes the baby when he/she is upset. Be flexible, though. It’s not a competition to see who is the most sleep-deprived, or hardworking! Remember – you’re a team.
3. Say “thank you” often. Just showing a little appreciation for the effort each other is putting in can do wonders for you both, even at your lowest ebb! A simple “thank you” and a hug from time to time goes a long way. No-one likes to feel taken for granted.
4. Keep intimacy alive. During the intense, exhausting period of looking after a newborn, it’s understandable that sexual relations may go on the back burner for a while.
That’s fine and perfectly normal. There are plenty of non-sexual ways to be intimate – just cuddling up in the evening, holding hands when you go out and lots of kisses will keep your bond strong when sex is on hold.
5. Ensure Mom gets the support she needs. In the days following the birth of a new baby, Mom is most likely a hormonal rollercoaster. She may be emotional, exhausted and frequently overwhelmed.
The partner’s most important job at this point is to look after Mom. She needs emotional as well as practical support – a shoulder to cry on as well as a cheerleader, an extra pair of hands around the house as well as with the baby. Happier Mom equals a happier baby – and a happier relationship!
1. Nip it in the bud. The genesis of a problem may happen way before the argument occurs. Being able to see the early warning signs of an issue will allow you to voice your concerns before an argument happens, and allow for a better flow of communication between you and your partner.
2. Put the situation in perspective. It goes without saying that everyday life can be grueling. The proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” can result in a full-on argument with your partner. As a result, take a moment and put the situation into perspective.
Ask yourself “why am I angry right now?” Putting an argument into context can allow you to get to the root of your anger and help you resolve the conflict.
3. Remove yourself from the situation. Should the tension begin to escalate and voices become raised, remove yourself from the situation entirely for a “time-out”.
Take deep breaths and focus on being still and quiet for a few moments. Once you are calm, you can re-enter the discussion from a practical, rather than emotional perspective in order to come to a resolution.
4. Don’t play the blame game. Accusing or castigating your partner in the middle of an argument will only serve to increase the pressure and put them on the defensive.
Couch your statements using “I” instead of “you”, eg. “I am feeling this”, rather than “You are doing/not doing this”. In this way, rather than attacking, you are eliciting empathy – coming from place of vulnerability, rather than blame.
5. Relax yourself. Whilst in the middle of an argument, our bodies get tense and our breathing patterns accelerate. This can strain an argument and cloud the issues at hand.
A simple way to alleviate the tension you may feel is to do some basic breathing exercises. Give yourself a moment and take a deep breath through your nose and hold it for a moment and exhale. Feeling the breath as it enters in and out of your body will break down some of the tension and allow you to focus on your partner and the argument at hand.