What Couples Need to Know When They Come to Couples Therapy on a Verge of a Breakup?
posted: May 29, 2021.
Couples Therapy works. It’s a fact. Past decade in my Los-Angeles private practice provided ample of proof to the effectiveness of couples counseling. Many couples left my office after their last couples therapy session only to reach out few months later to check in and describe the profound transformation of their relationship, renewed sense of connection, love, intimacy and closeness.
Pandemic effected all of us in different ways. Couples therapists exchanged the traditional office setting in favor of online therapy work to adjust to the tides of time. After letting go of my Los-Angeles office I reluctantly transferred my clients to online couples therapy work. It has been a year and a half since that transition and the results are pleasantly surprising.
First, the quality of clinical work and success rate remained unchanged, giving thumbs up to online couples therapy as a valid and equal alternative to face-to-face couples counseling. Second, working from the comfort of my home office and allowing my clients the opportunity to log-in from wherever they might be is priceless. Finally, I am able to accept clients from all over the state of California including San-Francisco, San-Diego and Palm Springs, opening the virtual doors of my clinic to those seeking to improve their love relationship.
Sometimes couples come to see me on a verge of a breakup. Some hope to reconnect and heal, while some seek help to separate amicably. Whatever the goal of my couples therapy clients is, there are several important things to know before embarking on the journey of couples counseling.
1. Do it for your own sake
If you are unsure whether to stay in this relationship or leave, commit to the process of therapy for your own wellbeing. In order to create a future love relationship that is a significant improvement on the past, we have to learn and grow. Use this opportunity to do just that. Here are few more points on that:
- History - history together has value and it’s important to make relationship decisions from a place of clarity and groundedness, rather than exasperation and helplessness. Together with my couples we work on resolving resentments and conflict in the relationship to create a space for making decisions based on clarity and connection to our higher purpose.
- Patterns - our life unfolds in patterns and our relationship is part of our personal pattern acted out in synergy with our partner. Whether we leave the relationship or not, we can never leave our baggage behind – it will follow us wherever we go, until we deal with it. If we do not do our own growth work, which couples counseling is a version of, we are very likely to reenact the same drama with our next beloved. Alternative would be to stick around at least long enough to work through and resolve our stuff.
- Transformation - relationship is one of the most powerful transformative experiences we encounter. Running away from relationship problems is like quitting school after flanking a quiz- huge missed learning opportunity.
2. Relationship Education - what relationships really are?
Sometimes couples need some education about the nature and developmental stages of relationships. It’s amazing how little people know about one of the most talked about subjects:
- Hallmark delusion – relationships are like children - they have developmental stages and each stage presents it’s set of challenges and learning opportunities that, once overcome, create deeper intimacy and stronger bond. For example, after our favorite sweet and romantic honeymoon stage of the relationship inevitably comes a stage of conflict and power struggle. Many couples freak out, thinking that something went terribly wrong, while in actuality this was totally predictable. To learn more about Developmental stages of love check out my blog.
- Our Beloved as a Catalyst - we always fall in love with a person who has the necessary qualities to trigger all of our unresolved childhood stuff, such as fear of abandonment and rejection, limiting beliefs about being unworthy, unlovable, inadequate etc. All which is not resolved within us will come up for resolution in our relationships. We will have a choice of a Blue pill of the Truth or the Red pill of Denial. If we choose to stay and do the hard work of growth, the promise is deeper understanding of ourselves and of the process of life, not to mention greater meaning and deeper bond with our loved one. If we run, we take our baggage with us.
3. Process of Therapy - what therapy really is?
Couples need help understanding the process of therapy:
- Therapist is Not an arbitrator - the common misconception is that a therapist is a third party that will decide who is right. Couldn’t be further from the truth. The role of a therapist is to help the couple understand that they are both right from where each of them stands, and it’s their choice to either be right or to be in relationships. The role of the therapist is to help each partner to expand their vision of themselves, their partner and their relationship, and achieve a place of greater clarity.
- Therapy is Not advice giving – advice is an opinion based on personal experience of the one providing the advice. Advice is free. You can talk to your family and friends – there is plenty of advice out there. The problem with it is that advice is rooted in the life experience of the person providing the advice and has nothing to do with our life experience. Also, knowing what is the right thing to do is far removed from actually doing it. Most couples know that their arguments are futile, hurtful and unproductive, but it does not stop them from having them. That brings us to what therapy actually is:
- Therapy is about changing our life patterns - identifying and changing personal patterns of thought, emotion and behavior that manifest as a repetitive pattern of outcomes in one’s world. In the context of a relationship between the two (or more) we have a more complex pattern emerging (the example of 2 or more stones in a pond, as opposed to just one). In couples therapy we work to change our old patterns. Ultimately the goal is to change our patterns of relating and create the love that we want.