Couples Counseling

COUPLES COUNSELING

"Is it too late to make a difference?"
"I can't get his attention."
"She's never happy".
"I'm beginning to lose hope."
"What can I do now?"


It’s Never “Too Late”

In counseling hundreds of couples, there is often one member who believes that it is “too late” to save the relationship. Usually it is the woman who feels neglected or ignored, as her husband focuses on his career and earning money. Whether she has worked outside the home or not, she cannot let go of the hurt, which manifests as anger, and finally becomes a wall that seems insurmountable. However, there can be reason for hope even in the face of quiet (or vocal) desperation.

If one person in a relationship is willing to work to save it, a new union can emerge. I often tell couples: “Your first marriage is over. It’s not about fixing it or settling for what you have, but beginning to create a new relationship that meets both your needs. Who are you now? What is important to you both? And are you willing and able to give the other what you each want and need?”

“I can’t get his attention. I’ve told him how unhappy I am, and he doesn’t seem to notice or care.”

Men might offer love in the form of financial contribution and support. It can be the currency of their caring. However, women may need more time together, shared conversations, attention and affection. The manner in which those needs are expressed may sound needy, whining, or demanding. Learning how to express your needs without judgment or blame is a skill that can be learned. It begins with “I” messages, and includes words like “sad, hurt, scared and/or angry”. You might find yourself more sad than angry, but that would help to break the cycle of arguments and distancing.

“I try so hard to please her and she never seems happy”.

After a decade or two (or more) of working long hours, men may feel the brunt of the financial responsibility for the family. Often they become burned out, overwhelmed with the duties, but afraid to ask for help. They also feel “sad, hurt, and fearful” when their spouses feel dissatisfied with the life that their work has provided. Then they build walls, too, walls to block out the criticism and anger that is coming their way. They may not have the tools to confront the issues in a healthy way, so they may work more or find other activities to keep them busy and out of harm’s way.

"I'm beginning to lose hope."

Separation or divorce is often contemplated as the solution, and in some cases, that may be the only way out. However, learning how to communicate with empathy and compassion can heal wounds that have been festering for years. And if the relationship is meant to end, you can both do the work you need to let go with kindness. Even if the relationship is over, and you are already divorced, you can still create a better method of communication. All that is needed is one willing participant.

“I’ve already done all the work. I don’t want to do any more.”
“I don’t want to be compassionate when I’m so hurt and angry.”

Take the time you need to learn how to communicate with compassion. And the compassion begins with YOUR SELF. It takes a lot of energy and effort to maintain the barricades you might have erected around your heart. Allow yourself to tear down your barriers, put down your weapons, express your sadness, and begin to ask for what you need as you set appropriate boundaries.

As you learn to listen to all parts of yourself – the sad, scared, hurt, angry - you can speak FOR them, and not FROM them, which makes the dialogue much more heart-centered. And as you learn to be compassionate towards your own feelings, you begin to manifest that compassion towards your partner. It’s in that field of empathy that miracles can happen.

“We’ve tried counseling and it didn’t work. I don’t want to do anymore.”

You can always get divorced, but if you got divorced tomorrow, you’d still carry the burden of all those unexpressed feelings. You might meet someone else who will trigger you in just the same way your partner does. You won’t be “wasting time” to allow yourself one more attempt to create something new with the other parent of your children. You can also heal wounds that pre-dated the marriage, which you might be carrying from your family of origin.

”What can I do now?”

Give yourself one session. It only takes one person to begin to improve a relationship. The only person you can ever change is yourself. If your partner is not ready or willing to come to counseling, do it on your own. There is no need to suffer. Help is available. The tools you will learn can improve all your relationships and enhance the quality of your life. Call 847-914-0560 and let the healing begin.