Posted on April 14, 2020
No matter what Instagram shows you, no couple is perfect. They fight, say mean things, go to bed angry, and have years (even decades) of conflict that have never come to a resolution. It’s perfectly normal. Every relationship, even the very best ones, have their moments, but the ones who can weather the storms and droughts are usually the ones who seek counseling. This is because the benefits of therapy go far just beyond your relationship- it helps you on an individual level. If you and your significant other have considered seeking out couples counseling, you can get started today and use a therapy matching service to find a mental health professional that will help you two grow. If you aren’t prepared quite yet, read below for our tips to get a better understanding of what will come out of couples therapy.
Wondering what to expect from therapy? A couples therapy session isn’t designed to be an hour a week where you point out your flaws and apologize profusely. It’s designed to bring out the best in you and your partner, strengthening the quality of your relationship, so that you can deal with issues in ways that support you to grow as individuals and a couple even when there isn’t a therapist there to moderate.
An emotionally fulfilling couple relationship is available to most loving couples who respect each other and have a strong desire for mutual growth and improvement. For those committed couples, a happy and healthy relationship is very much within reach. But it’s not without its challenges, involving both partners to have the willingness to stretch themselves emotionally and fundamentally. For couples therapy to really be effective, it’s important for each person to love and value both self and the other as unique beings as a basis for promoting a sense of safety and mutual understanding.
So, once you’ve decided to take the plunge and go for relationship counseling, it’s important to decide on your goals for couples therapy. What do you want to get out of your sessions? Of course, you’ll be looking to gain a better understanding of your partner and yourself, but it’s important to be specific with your goals rather than just wanting to fix general relationship issues. Here are 15 goals for couples therapy you can look through and decide which are the most important for your relationship.
Better understand you, your partner, and relationship. Deepen knowledge and understanding of yourself, your partner, and your relationship. This is an ongoing goal that can be cultivated and revisited over the course of your entire relationship.
Identify each other’s fears. Identify one another’s fears and acknowledge what each person needs to feel safe in the relationship.
Discover how to compromise. Discover a win-win problem-solving process to resolution of each of the issues on which they have been stuck. This process that you create together in therapy should not only help you navigate current and past issues, but also prepare you with tools to tackle any new problems that come your way as a couple.
Learn how to handle individual differences. Learn skills to handle your fundamental differences collaboratively, on your own. This will help you avoid the need either to disengage from each other or fight to work through a problem.
Understand how to be loving. Understand new ways to keep the emotional tone between them happy and loving, without escalating into anger and antagonization. Break down distinctions between healthy versus unhealthy expressions of anger.
Find the root of the problems. Gaining insights into your respective childhoods, where you might find the origins of problematic habits, which could easily help prevent ongoing excessive emotional reactivity.
Get on the same page as your partner. Develop the capacity to get on the same page and envision a better life together, not just what you want as individuals.
Learn to work together. Grow the ability to work together as a team, both on larger, more complex emotional and logistical issues, as well as the day-to-day.
Push through the hard times. Couples will naturally always have problems. As we mentioned., no couple is perfect. But it’s all about handling those issues healthily and together. This goal will help push you to find the motivation to keep evolving, even when it gets difficult.
Share honest feelings. Create the space to speak from your heart about what really matters, instead of talking around important subjects where you may be afraid of the other person’s reactions.
Improve empathy in communication. Structure your communications to allow each to feel safe enough to empathically connect. Talk together and listen in a way that each feels accepted, validated, and understood.
Limit judgment and defensiveness. Identify one another’s triggers and defense strategies and replace limiting beliefs or judgments with ones that create a mutually enriching relationship. Reject subconscious narratives that block communication and cause reactivity and defensiveness.
Discover each others’ love language. Understand what you need to feel loved and clearly articulate that to your partner.
Find new strategies for solving problems. Identify and replace old habits, defenses, and coping strategies, as individuals and as partners, with enriching ones.
Reignite the flame. Rediscover the romance and bring the fun back into your intimate relationship.
Couples therapy is a proven effective environment to help get a relationship back on track, out of fear patterns to love and-safety. By entering each therapy session with a shared goal of conflict resolution and the treatment of specific issues, both partners can work towards forging a better relationship. The process calls each partner to stretch self — requiring self-study, honest self-reflection, and raw integrity to engage in feeling your feelings, becoming aware of your thoughts, and exploring how childhood wounds may impact your ability to be a good partner.
Wondering how to find a therapist? Use Advekit to get matched with a couples therapist in your area so you can enjoy a collaborative, affectionate, long-lasting, and long-loving partnership.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.