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Are You Dissatisfied With Your Relationship?
- Are you feeling lonely, anxious or invisible around your partner?
- Are you longing for more attention, affection or closeness?
- Has communication become tense or volatile or, alternatively, nonexistent?
- Are you nostalgic for how it used to be with your partner, when you adored, respected and valued each other?
It can feel painful, frustrating and lonely to be in a relationship that is full of conflict, silently strained or disconnected. Relationships, especially intimate, long-term partnerships, can be hard work. Even relationships that began with a strong foundation can weaken over time. Negative patterns can develop and become entrenched. Children, careers and busy schedules can consume the time and energy that was once reserved for your relationship. Personalities can begin to clash and small slights can feel like big insults and attacks. Maybe an infidelity has threatened or broken your trust. Perhaps what was once an intimate partnership may have shifted into what feels like a business relationship or like “roommates.” You may wake up one day and realize that you no longer feel a strong connection to the person you married.
Many Couples Struggle With the Ups and Downs of Long-Term Partnerships
It is not uncommon for couples to experience challenges at some point in their relationship. After a year or two of marriage, the honeymoon phase often ends, and couples may experience a decrease in intimacy and sexual satisfaction. Periods of high stress brought on my life’s inevitable challenges can also occur, putting further strain on relationships. Sometimes ineffective communication and the ensuing conflicts are severe enough to lead to divorce – the end result for about half of all first marriages.
But, that’s not the case for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be the end result for you and your partner.
Couples Counseling Can Help You Reconnect
If both you and your partner are committed to improving your relationship, are willing to look at yourselves and each other with an open mind, and are motivated to practice new ways to communicate, couples counseling with couples therapist, Dr. Susan Orenstein can be extremely beneficial.
In couples counseling sessions, Susan will objectively observe your interactions as a couple and point out blind spots you may have regarding your role in your relationship’s dynamics. She will also help you set goals, highlight progress and reinforce your strengths. At Orenstein Solutions, we believe that when couples counseling is truly effective, partners regain a sense of love, connection, and confidence. Couples can learn how to have constructive conversations both inside and outside of the therapy office. We feel that couples are able to “graduate” from couples counseling when they have become relationship experts themselves, knowing how to nurture and sustain their now healthy relationship.
Couples / Marriage Counseling Can Create More Understanding And Intimacy
During couples counseling, Susan will help you identify the destructive patterns within your relationship so you can stop wasting energy doing things that only make the situation worse. Eliminating the hurtful ways you and your partner relate can make room for new mindsets, behaviors and caring conversations.
In couples counseling, you will have a safe space to identify and address the root sources of your conflicts and develop new ways to discuss sensitive or difficult topics. Susan will help you identify when you or your partner is becoming defensive, critical or distant. As you learn more about yourselves as a couple, you will also begin to better understand yourselves as individuals. You can identify your own needs and learn how to express them more honestly and comfortably. The ability to clearly ask for what you need while also considering your partner’s needs promotes individual growth as well as increased intimacy in your relationship. Having two emotionally healthy individuals who can share, confide and nurture each other is the best recipe for sustaining a healthy relationship.
Although you may be feeling hopeless right now, with guided support and a willingness to change, it is very possible to feel valued within your relationship and feel connected to your partner again. We have seen couples teetering on the brink of break-up recommitted and connected just a few months later. While your relationship is unique and comes with its own strengths and challenges, with practical solutions in place, it is possible for communication to improve and a strong and affectionate bond to develop.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I think that we desperately need help, but my partner is closed off to the idea of couples counseling.
If your partner truly is resistant to couples counseling, we invite you to come on your own. While couples therapy is most effective when both partners are present and willing, there is a lot that you can do to improve the dynamic of your relationship. In therapy, you can explore the ways in which you handle conflict, as well as your strengths and blind spots. Your therapist can help you gain clarity on your needs, feelings and personal boundaries and help you develop clear, nonthreatening and loving ways to express yourself to your partner.
And, often, when one person starts relationship counseling, it sets the tone for change. By taking the first step, you can create an atmosphere for healthy risk taking and make a positive impression on your partner. It may create the encouragement and safety needed for your partner to also become interested in couples counseling.
Couples / marriage counseling can take up a lot of time and it isn’t cheap. I’m not sure it’s worthwhile.
Marital/couples counseling is an investment in yourself, your partner and your family. If you have children, you know that you and your partner are the leaders of your family, and whatever is transpiring in your relationship – be it good, bad or ugly – impacts everyone in your home. Outside of the home, your productivity at work and your engagement with friends and other family members may be negatively affected by the stress of a strained relationship. By investing in your relationship now, you are not only creating the opportunity for everyone to feel better sooner, but you can also build a solid emotional foundation with your partner that you can draw on the rest of your life.
Couples / marriage counseling may also help you repair your relationship and avoid a costly divorce and/or the individual counseling you and/or your partner may need if your relationship continues to worsen.
I’m afraid that therapy will shine a light on all that is not working within our relationship and make everything even worse.
It is unlikely that couples counseling will make matters worse. What therapy will do is make you and your partner more aware of what is occurring within your relationship. This awareness can sometimes be painful, but honestly sifting and sorting through issues is necessary to move forward and heal. Until you really know what’s wrong, how can you go about fixing it?
In couples counseling, you can begin to break down negative patterns and replace them with new ways of connecting. Your couples therapist, Susan Orenstein, will offer you practical and thoughtful feedback and solutions in real time and gently push you and your partner in ways that you may not be able to push yourselves. Susan will also provide you with new skills and strategies, point out strengths that you may not be aware of, and remind you to breathe. In time and with guidance, you can create a deeper understanding and appreciation of one another.
Your relationship can become stronger as both you and your partner learn how to be more flexible and take better care of each other and yourselves. Working through your issues now can not only improve your relationship and bring more joy to your life, but it can also deepen the bond that will support your relationship long after your therapeutic work is complete.
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Susan Orenstein, Ph.D.
Dr. Susan Orenstein has committed her professional career to helping individuals and couples improve their most intimate relationships.
SPECIALTY AREAS: Couples and Marriage Counseling, Affair Recovery, Coping with Divorce, Same Sex Couples, Pre-marital Counseling, Blended Families, Relationship Issues, Anxiety and Depression
We invite you to call us for a 15-minute free consultation to discuss any questions and concerns you may have about couples and marriage counseling.