Falling in love often seems effortless. But later, the road of life can bring conflict or uncertainty to almost all long-term relationships. Tough financial times, work issues, parenting challenges, and constant transition all serve to threaten a good couple’s best efforts to have a loving and flexible relationship.
The good news is that effective couples’ therapy can help two people to actually accept–or even embrace–uncertainty and change. A skilled couples’ therapist understands crisis as an opportunity for positive growth.
I work with couples who are experiencing significant conflict, infidelity, or the feeling that they are not “heard,” loved, acknowledged or appreciated. Some other specific issues I work with include co-parenting, borderline and narcissistic personality disorders, addiction/recovery, step-parenting, family of origin conflict, and conflicts arising from non-traditional or cross-cultural family life.
When couples first come in my office, I observe the pattern of their communication as the most important element of their relationship. Helping couples to improve the skill of actually listening to each other and to focus on achieving happiness instead of who is “right” or “wrong”. I help couples to re-calibrate meaningful roles, to work on problems of anger and silence, and to learn through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy when their levels of stress create a situation of “distress” which is unhelpful. Couples learn to practice mindful communication and to improve listening non-verbal communication. Together, we attempt to have the couple achieve more acceptance, trust, respect, and friendship.
Nothing threatens a marriage or long-term relationship as strongly as an affair. Affairs can make the world seem like a very unsafe and unpredictable place for the non-offending spouse or partner. Affairs create complex situations in marriage and family life which also often generate significant emotional trauma. When infidelity also involves the welfare of children, a more complex family circumstance is created for both conflicted parents. Yet affairs appear to happen more frequently than we would hope, or expect.
The first step is professional help with a skilled therapist. Offending and non-offending spouses need firm, supportive therapy to help them with a very wide range of intense thoughts, emotions, considerations, and behaviors. Often it is necessary to determine the offending spouse’s motivation and/or capacity to take full responsibility for full disclosure of offending behaviors, or a movement towards full separation or moving on from the marriage if this is the couple’s decision.
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