Whether we’re visiting a therapist’s office to manage issues in our relationship as a couple, individually, or in a combination of both approaches, couples and family therapy may be highly efficient in resolving difficulties with the people who are closest to us, and the relationships that matter most to us. Many problems for couples and families are caused by dysfunctional patterns of communication between partners and family members. Too often we assume that other people see the world in the same way we do, and we base our decisions and actions on this assumption. Then, when someone doesn’t do what we expect them to do, based on our own perceptions, we feel hurt and are likely to take things personally. However, in most cases, this is not a correct view of reality. Other people are busy dealing with themselves and are simply reacting to situations in their own natural way. In trying to impose our expectations and our truth on someone else, we deny their unique view of reality, and conflict becomes inevitable. Clear communication plays a vital role in the process of relationship healing yet, too often we find ourselves unable to tell our partner what matters most to us, to convey our needs, wishes, dreams and emotions in a way they can understand. This may be the case with young couples, as well as with partners who have been together for decades. There are a multitude of reasons why we may be inefficient communicators.
In many cases, the imprints we carry with us from childhood play an important role in forming our expectations and behaviour patterns for our relationships. The way our parents communicated and related to each other as we learned to be communicators ourselves, formed a blueprint that we as young children took in and perceived as the right way to relate to our partners. Later in life, navigating our own relationships, we subconsciously play out the scenarios we saw with our parents or caretakers, and people who were closest to us during our childhood. If there were any sticky points in these relationships at that time, it’s likely we might see them surfacing in our own relationships. This is when a therapist’s help in uncovering these subconscious programs may be valuable in bringing clarity into what needs to be done to release the dysfunctional behaviours and to install beneficial ones. Another common problem in communication between partners is that they use different “love languages” to express their needs, wishes, desires, and emotions. There are thought to be five love languages which include: acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time. We may assume that our partner has the same love language as us because that is how we most naturally perceive an act of affection. However, as discussed above, it is important not to project our own perceptions and needs onto our partners. An example of a difference in love language communication may be a situation where we perceive our partner’s intense work ethic as a lack of interest in our relationship and an unwillingness to spend time with us. From their point of view, however, working hard may be the highest expression of care and love - they’re doing all they can to provide for us and build a comfortable life. Another example could be that we feel like gift giving is the best way to express our love and care, but our partner might be “wired” for verbal expressions of affection and might not receive our message of affection as we intended. Deciphering what your partner’s love language is can be as easy asking them what you can do to make them feel most loved and cared for. There are also quizzes online what can help you decipher what your love language is if you can’t quite put your finger on it. Clearly communicating the prime directive behind our actions can also be used to show our partner exactly what the intention is behind our actions.
Read More… Humans are social beings which means we are constantly engaged in many types of relationships. Couples and family therapy encompasses many of these connections and assists us in navigating our complex relationships when problems escalate out of our own ability to effectively manage them. Whether we are experiencing problems ourselves in our ability to resolve conflict, or we feel we lack the necessary skills to manage conflict, a family and couples therapist can be an excellent resource for teaching us these skills and for helping us come together to resolve issues in a way we aren’t able to on our own.
What are the benefits of working with a therapist?
All the dysfunctional and distorted patterns causing issues in our relationships can be safely examined at a therapist’s office in a neutral and fully confidential way. In a session, partners will be encouraged to express all their feelings, concerns, and in many cases, also resentments. Being able to let these bottled up emotions out may be very liberating and even life-changing, especially for couples who have never been able to communicate their feelings to each other freely, or who felt like expressing one’s deepest feelings is a sign of personal weakness. The therapist is able to encourage the view that it is actually a necessity in maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. A therapist can offer precisely what we need to see things as they are and to restore balance in our relationships. They act as neutral audience for any issues or problem behaviours, and they’re able to provide a safe place where solutions, peace, and balance are found. Impartiality is a valuable quality that is usually not available when we’re trying to solve problems with our partner ourselves. A therapist’s office may offer the right environment for us to do the work to heal our relationship and to establish and maintain efficient communication patterns in our partnership. Using an approach that integrates individual as well as couples therapy can provide even more avenues for growth. Research has indicated that mindfulness is a critical tool for individuals to employ in relationships. When individuals practice mindfulness, it opens their perspectives to a more empathetic stance and allows you to communicate with your partner in a way you would like to be communicated with. When both partners seek individual therapy to work on their own mindfulness techniques, they can both bring that perspective to how they communicate. Often, mindfulness brings sensations of calmness, clarity, and open mindedness which are all critical to effective communication and relationship satisfaction. Some clients might need several sessions just to be able to relax and open up, some may experience significant improvements in their relationship after the first session. Finding solutions for our relationship issues with a therapist by our side may be a very valuable “gift” we can give to ourselves and our partner on the journey towards relationship healing.
Reference: Crated with Love. (2021, May 11). The 5 Love Languages And What They Mean. Crated with Love. https://cratedwithlove.com/blog/five-love-languages-and-what-they-mean/.