Usually, the first treatment goal is restoring the marriage or couple friendship in order to decrease the loneliness each of you feels in the relationship. Years of distance and isolation may make trust a challenge.
Where open hostility and anger is a major problem, learning to recognize and manage intense emotion is a priority treatment issue. You will learn how to calm yourself and your partner before your emotions hijack you and ruin any chance of a productive discussion between you and your partner.
You may be tempted to stop treatment as soon as things get a bit better. This is not wise because at this point the work of weaving a long-lasting relationship begins. As you learn to manage the overwhelming emotions that are part of recognizing your marriage is in trouble, you will begin to have success negotiating your way through situations that used to end in anger or isolation.
If a recent affair is a presenting issue, the first sessions focus almost exclusively on containing the chaos each of you feels. We help you deal with feelings of betrayal, ambivalence, curiosity and anger about the affair partner, as well as the conflicting and rapidly changing emotions you have about yourself and your partner. Sometimes the chaos after the discovery of infidelity requires scheduling more than one session a week for a time.
What are the benefits:
Research has demonstrated that most couples come to couples counseling seven or more years after first becoming aware of problems. By then partners desperately want a quick fix. However, couples counseling requires intense work. Improvement takes time.
- Attend regular therapy sessions
- Think of the money you spend on therapy as an investment in the future of your relationship (counseling fees are less than attorney fees!)
- Dedicate time between sessions to practice the skills you learn in therapy (regular practice may mean you’ll achieve your goals with fewer therapy sessions)
- Commit to learning new habits
- Nurture the desire for a healthy and intimate marriage
- Patience will pay off. Loneliness can be transformed into companionship. Even after betrayal, trust can be rekindled. And hostility can evolve into kindness.