Couples & Marriage Counselling
Being able to let your guard down and feel safe with your partner opens the door for intimacy and connection to take place.
When we feel upset in our relationship, we often turn away from our partners. We override the inherent instinct to move towards each other, and we do this because of things that happened previously in this relationship or somewhere else in our past. We shut out our partners as a means of protecting ourselves. Steadfast’s counselors can show you how to addresses those past issues and understand where each other’s fears and concerns come from – this will allow you to regain the trust and closeness that characterizes a fulfilling relationship.
We have found that couples often find it easier to say things they need to say with a therapist present. Being able to let your guard down and feel safe with your partner opens the door for intimacy and connection to take place. Couples counselling is most effective when we have somewhere from six to thirty sessions together. We review the current problem, discuss your goal for you and your relationship and take a history of current and past relationship dynamics. It is here, in this environment, that we can understand and redefine the problem and it is here where we can start to discover the purpose of the relationship.
Common relationship problems:
Betrayal/affairs– When trust has been broken, we find couples will experience an intense range of emotions. This can be a very delicate time for a couple, and it requires a lot of care on the part of everyone involved. Building trust for each other again requires courage from both people in the relationship and the willingness to ask some questions that have no easy answers. How do I forgive you, or myself? How do I trust you again? How do I make sense of what happened?
Once you decide to take a look at what happened in the relationship (both during this time, and before the thing ever happened) and seek understanding with each other, you may just find good reasons to rebuild what you had. We find that couples who are able to take this journey together are likely to have a much stronger relationship than when they started.
Loss of connection, passion and intimacy – We find couples that have been together for a period of time often hit this road block. Being in a long-term, fulfilling relationship requires a different skill set than simply enjoying the first, exhilarating stages of a relationship. Some couples just accept that things change and so will their feelings with each other. Other couples do not want to accept this. They really want to be together and value a relationship where they feel fully alive and engaged. This is absolutely possible! However, it requires each person to continue to stretch themselves in the areas of acceptance, personal risk-taking, and staying open to new ideas. Intimacy and passion are like two different highways. It is helpful to know how to drive down both of them in a relationship, as they both call upon us to engage with each other differently and require different skills. Intimacy is about truly getting to know another human being and the many layers they make them who they are. That is one of the true blessing and gifts of a long term relationship. Passion is about mystery and fantasy and taking risks in a much different way. You can have passion in a long-term relationship too, especially when you have the trust and love that comes with intimacy.
Communication – We find couples can become grid-locked in communication patterns, rehashing the past and reacting the same way again and again. Often this ends up causing more distance or conflict. As we become closer and matter more to each other, the importance we place on feeling understood and cared about naturally grows as well. At the same time, the more our emotional relationships mirror our primary relationships growing up, the more places we tend to be disappointed or hurt. At Steadfast, we help couples understand the emotional dance that happens between them. With that knowledge they can become better at communicating, so the bond between them grows stronger, yet more flexible, giving each person the room to find the delicate balance of support and freedom we all need.
Anger issues – When anger issues aren’t dealt with, it can cause so much damage to a relationship that the couple’s feeling of safety and caring starts to break down rapidly. We find couples often need help rebuilding trust when anger is impacting their relationship. One of the things we find with anger is that there is always something underneath it. There is a message attempting to be delivered. Unfortunately, once the message has escalated to anger it is almost impossible for the person receiving the message to interpret it. However, once couples discover the underlying message and learn how to communicate what is really happening beneath the anger, things are easily resolved. This process can take some time, especially if conflict has become a pattern in the relationship. By the time this has happened, both people can feel fairly guarded. We will help you start to create some space in your relationship, so you feel safe enough to uncover what is really happening underneath the anger.
Do I stay or I do I go? Lots of relationships come to this crossroads. For most couples this is not a question they ask lightly. When working with couples, we often discover there have been many attempts, before this point and often by both parties, to make the relationship work. As therapy moves along, we uncover the various reasons these attempts weren’t successful. We believe that when you find yourself at this crossroads with your partner, one of the easiest ways to answer this question is to actually put both feet back into the relationship for a period of time. We suggest this in order for you to make an honest attempt to figure out what went wrong, to see if you are able to reconnect with your partner in a way that is meaningful for both of you.
Even if you end up parting ways, this is a valuable process. You gain immensely from being able to say ‘I bless you and wish you all the best’, taking what you’ve learned about yourself and being in a relationship with you as you start anew. There is a saying that what you do not sort out in this relationship you, will bring with you to the next. We believe in this. Inevitably, some of the unresolved issues are yours. The more you can start to learn about you, who you are in a relationship, and what you do in the middle of a difficulty, will only support you to have a more fulfilling life. When there are children involved, this process always makes sense. You will, on some level, always be in a relationship with your spouse. Whether you end up staying married or not, you two are connected through your children. The ability to work things out together will benefit everyone.