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Couples Therapy

Written By Bryon Remo, M.Ed., LMFT
In moving toward an improved relationship, couples need to recognize that their hopefulness hinges upon two key concepts: 
  • a reasonable awareness of how they got to this point in their relationship,
  • and a willingness to be influenced by their partner and make some change​

Couples who are positioned to make the most significant changes in their marriage or relationship are often able

  • maintain a pulse on their needs as well as their partner's
  • take ownership over their part in causing some of the relationship pain
  • avoid using blame language (You said....Your the one who....)
  • learn to play tug o' war on the same side of the rope (feel like teammates)
  • evaluate one's own progress and efforts rather than watching their partner's
  • is slow to get angry and quick to forgive
  • is able tto keep conversations progressive (avoiding replaying old conversations)
couples, counseling

"In many ways adults are just kids with money..." (we need fun too)"
Couples counseling is an opportunity for individuals to take stock of their relationship and determine a course of action that is active and collaborative. It gives couples a chance to look more deeply at the patterns in their marriage or relationship that are interfering with their closeness.

Many couples simply need a venue that is emotionally safe to share their concerns and ideas that will re-mobilize their closeness. Others need a bit more prodding and creative solutions to help relationships recalibrate. Regardless of where couples are in their relationship, there are always opportnities to improve communication and take action on the aspects of the relationship that is most needed.

Couples in counseling can expect:

  • empathic non-judgmental listening
  • relaxed and pleasant environment
  • useful strategies & interventions to take home
  • an opportunity to "re-author" their story
  • to learn how to play tug o' war on the same side of the rope
  • reprogram default ways of thinking
  • understand the various systems of which we live and how they impact each other
  • recognize the difference between what has the potential to change and what must be tolerated
  • examine whether your values and vision are in alignment with your daily life
  • encouragement to take risks
  • learn how to become slow to anger & quick to forgive
  • avoid 'analysis paralysis' thinking that keeps people stuck

Understanding Marriage Counseling

Marriage Counseling is often thought of as a concept for those couples only on the “fault line”- that is the expression therapists’ often reference as the place where relationships will either be salvaged or dissolved. Yet couples that do well often consciously take steps toward fine tuning their marriage, not waiting for crisis to justify counseling.

When couples come to marriage counseling they often present with issues that suggest they have not only been through quite a bit of heartache but have also exhausted the interventions that now seem ineffective and even harmful to their healing. These couples often have difficulty being receptive to support because they have so many layers of hurt that needs to heal before they are receptive to new ways of relating.

Coupleship readiness occurs when bother members of the relationship recognize that their way of communicating needs to be revised and there is a willingness to finally give up old patterns. Marriage counseling gives couples an opportunity to decompress, take stock and decide if they want to put in the kind of energy necessary to make their marriage thrive not merely survive. Couples therapy allows relationships an opportunity to take a break from the toxic patterns of relating and allow a trained counselor to hold a space and intervene in a way that will neutralize and transcend  their pain.

For some, marriage counseling is something that doesn’t just save their marriage, but has the capacity to reboot it in a ways that makes it more sustainable. It’s an opportunity for couples to think about how they can create their own safe space within their home and eventually phase out of therapy. Many couples are reluctant to attend marriage therapy because it’s hard for them to imagine an end point. Furthermore, they  worry that marriage counseling is going to take too long. The good news is there are many initial steps in marriage counseling that can help clients immediately. These interventions often build mindfulness and momentum and create more confidence in counseling over the long haul.

Marriage counseling gives clients a great opportunity to develop their ideal relationship vision not simply a plan to avoid divorce. It is a place that helps clients think not just about being good parents or better communicators.- but instead it is an opportunity for couples to imagine and develop the kind of closeness that most couples feel are relegated to Hollywood.
Marriage counseling takes a bit of risk. But mostly it takes willingness. A willingness to step outside your comfort zone and recognize that it truly is not a sign of weakness to seek marriage therapy. But instead it is a testament to how much you love your partner.

Do Women and Men Really Speak Different Languages?

YES and NO! It may sound silly the idea of men and women speaking different languages but it really means that they each have different areas of emphasis on what they deem important to talk about. This includes a desire to NOT talk (mostly men). 

When men and women become disconnected and the closeness that they typically feel is replaced by anger, criticism or even silence, it can create a downward spiral for them. These patterns can create a recycling effect that often leads them to fear future arguments. Couples need to ensure that they never give up on each other regardless of how difficult things may seem. However, understanding each other's communication style is important for them to know what's possible in a given situation.

Knowing when to talk, when to touch, when to just maintain closeness without talking and when to choose space is at the heart of making sense of what's needed when couples are in distress. Sometimes talking is the worst thing couples can do and other times it's essential. In couples counseling it often helps to have a well-trained therapist tease out the individual difference in each to help them learn to negotiate more effectively. 

Couples Counseling Can Help You Learn Your Blind Spots

It's no big secret that communication is often at the heart of couples difficulties. When couples attempt to work through their issues they often make efforts that fail to deliver the outcomes they wish for. Many times the good intentions that each has gets lost due to a process that is ineffective and potentially even harmful.

Just like the blind spot that exists when a car begins to pass us, we too have blind spots in our communication. At CT Family Counseling, Bryon Remo, M.Ed., LMFT helps clients recognize that the feedback each receives from their partner may not always feel good to hear, but it still represents some level of truth. Couples need to consider the feedback given to them by their partners and allow it to be part of their discussion. It is not easy to hear words especially when they come out harshly. But when couples learn to refine their process of communicating, they are better positioned to help their partners digest their words. Uncovering effective solutions and rebuilding connections through empathy and active listening (which ironicallly mean suspending thoughts) couples counseling can support clients' ability to not only engage in healthy conflict, but to do so in a way that feels more inviting. 

In session, your therapist can help you take stock of what brought the two of you together, what you love most about each other and what you can do to repair the innocence that may have gotten derailed due to ineffective conflict resolution. Couples often meet those who seem to unconsciously balance their psychology (introvert meets extrovert, competitor meets non-competitor, etc,). Your couples therapist can help you make sense of how this can be your greatest relationship asset. By uncovering issues from your past, couples can learn how to see the differences in their relationship is a useful means of creating understanding and healing.

Some issues that couples face have relatively easy solutions- others require each to become better at holding a space for one another. This often means allowing your partner to fully voice his/her concerns without trying to problem solve prematurely. Instead, couples need to become comfortable with listening in exclusively being the intervention. In couples counseling, a safe space means couples can engage without a filter knowing there is a medium (therapist) to intervene during moments of difficulty or impasse. You will also learn several tools and techniques to get "unstuck" from arguments that previously ended in disconnect. In addition, your couples therapist will help you take a closer look at your intimate relationship and see whether it can regain some traction. Remo notes that couples who work intentionally to reconnect emotionally often have a greater desire to connect physically. Sometimes couples need to consider the opposite- that is, to take the risk of connecting physically to increase the desire to engage in emotionally laden conversations. 

How Long Will Couples Counseling Take?

Nobody wants to come to couples counseling forever...or even a year! And a well-trained therapist, likewise, wants to move you along as quickly as possible given our understanding of the importance of your time. However, it is not always easy to predict the length of couples therapy. Sometimes couples have specific problems that they are stuck on and short term marriage or relationship counseling will do the trick with very little time or financial commitment. Other times there are more significant issues that have a longer history which may require more frequent sessions for a therapist to understand and intervene in the most useful way. At CT Family Counseling your therapist will provide you with feedback as to their impressions of an appropriate course of action. We view your relationship as central to your life's happiness. In addition, counseling is designed to help your relationship thrive, not merely survive. Our hope is that you leave counseling feeling more equipped to appreciate and understand one another and to engage in conflict in a way that creates optimism that your arguments will be helpful to your growth.

What If My Therapist Is Biased And Sides With My Partner?

Should there be times where it feels as if your therapist is siding with your partner, you should feel comfortable sharing your concern. Therapists are accustomed to hearing all sorts of feedback from clients, which includes criticism. Many times there are good reasons why your therapist may take a position supporting your partner's viewpoint. However, if this becomes a noticeable pattern and it causes you frustration, by all means you should question your therapist on this matter. Like all people, biases are sometimes impossible to deny. Yet, all therapists should be able to guarantee that each client be treated with dignity, respect and the kind of care they would expect for themselves. Should you continue to feel uncomfortable, you have every right to seek an alternative therapist. However, sometimes it is necessary to have a healthy conflict with your therapist to see if it can first be resolved. 


​​Bryon Remo, M.Ed., LMFT
​explains why some couples do better than others in counseling

Benefits of Pre-Marital Counseling

How to Be a Better Husband