When was the last time you had a conversation with your partner about something outside of your daily demands and hectic schedules? When couples are asked this in my office, most cannot find a time when this recently occurred. Instead, most conversations are usually filled with negative criticism and comments that diminish feelings of connection and leave partners feeling hurt and inadequate.
If left untended, relationships usually begin to break down and start showing patterns of unhealthy and hurtful communication, diminishing intimacy, lack of sexual intimacy, and disagreements in parenting, among many other things. If you’re in a relationship and this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Couples counseling may be beneficial in repairing your relationship.
Typical couples wait over two years after problems start to finally seek help. It’s a big decision to make, and feelings of anxiety and nervousness are valid. And rightfully so—couples counseling is hard. You’ll cover hard topics and be uncomfortable at times. However, you’ll also have the chance to feel relief, heard, validated, appreciated and connected.
With most couples, when things get bad, conversations focus on negatives and everything that’s going wrong. But imagine how your outlook towards your relationship might change if you shifted your view to focusing on what’s good.
My first homework task for most couples is to schedule “ten-minute time” together. Just like you would write a soccer game on your calendar, this gets to take up space on your calendar because your relationship is apriority. Each day schedule in ten minutes where you get to focus on your spouse with zero distractions.
During this time, reflect on the passionate, fun, caring and positive things. Focus on the successes and teamwork you’ve been putting in. Point out the coffee your spouse made you and say thank you. Dream about that vacation to the mountains or the beach. Do something silly or fun together. Laugh and reminisce on the dates and moments that remind you of how you fell in love.
The next step is creating a goal of how you want your relationship to be. As a team, the therapist and couple work together to identify core issues, unhealthy patterns and provide different perspectives and strategies that help create lasting positive changes in the relationship for years to come.
If it sounds like couples counseling could help you and your partner, reach out. We’re here for you, whenever you need us.
Jeanette Rogers, LMLP
Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center