Most couples come in to me trying to solve a mystery. It goes like this: “We used to be happy. Now we’re not. And all our attempts at fixing it haven’t changed that. In fact, they have sometimes made it worse.”
I understand. I’m married myself, and know that keeping a long-term committed romantic relationship alive and happy is hard work, and is a challenge most of us were not well-trained for. We go from the templates we saw of our parents (if we saw any), from TV shows and self-help books, from what we see around us (the public face of other’s relationships) – and they don’t provide us with the answers we need to stay connected and positive. Add in a kid or two and perhaps two careers and a mortgage and you’ve got a recipe for a tired, stressed-out couple.
Some of the things I work with couples on include:
- Conflict & Fighting
- Intimacy & Sex
- Money & Finances
- Balancing Work & Family Life
- Dealing with In-Laws
- Infertility & Adoption
- Managing Difference
- Values & Goals
- Pre-Marital Counseling
My work with couples lives both in the real world of communication skills, conflict, habits & patterns, but it really works at its best when we get down to the heart of a romantic relationship – love, intimacy, acceptance, connection. The want for that, the experience of it, drives us so strongly into relationships early on. And feeling that once again really is what I find most people want – and that I know can happen.
It’s just that sometimes we end up mired in a mix of fear, anger, hopelessness, resentment, vulnerability or scarcity (my needs competing with yours). And we often put in place things to help us survive this disconnection – things that ultimately we may need to release to really achieve something fresh and new.
I use tools and theory from several different marital researchers – John Gottman (author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail), David Schnarch (Passionate Marriage), Harville Hendrix (Getting the Love You Want), and Sue Johnson (Founder of Emotional Focused Therapy) – and frame it all in family systems theory. I work with couples who are just dating, who are living together, engaged or thinking about marriage (or stuck on the verge) and who are married.