When I’m treating a couple in therapy and flashes of hate appear, I’m never worried. In fact, I’m more worried
I often think that fighting, when it comes to couples, gets a bad rap. First, let me say that I
Fighting in a relationship can be exhausting. Who really wants to do it? Isn’t it much nicer to have peace?
“When did you lose your voice?”, I asked Paula. She said, “I know exactly when.” Paula didn’t realize that her depression had anything to do with her marriage. She thought she had a chemical imbalance. Until the therapy with the family, Paula didn’t even let herself know that she felt angry at being shut out by her self-assured husband. She had given up trying to get him to hear her, and her quiet despair and helplessness showed up as depression. As the therapy unearthed these patterns, she discovered her voice. Her mood lifted.
When this couple came into therapy, it looked like end-stage marital disease. They had been tearing each other apart for years and barely remembered a time when they were happy together. Then something happened in the session that totally turned it around
Anyone who has experienced a cheating partner knows that this is one of life’s most painful experiences. Feelings of betrayal, hurt and mistrust can last a long time. But for those couples who use the affair to look at their relationship, the pain can, believe it or not, diminish greatly. It is replaced by a greater feeling of connection, often deeper than before the affair. The road is not easy, but for many, it is well worth it.
Curiously, one of the commonest causes of chronic marital dissatisfaction is the spouses’ tendency to be over-cautious with their partner. They have fights or disagreements, but don’t go far enough. So the patterns that can make a marriage feel dead stay stuck. Here’s a way to change that.
It’s part of the human condition that we may be unhappy, unfulfilled, or overly stressed without even realizing it. That kind of unconscious distress can spill over to the marriage. Without realizing it, we may look to a relationship to fix what’s wrong with our life. That’s a recipe for disaster. Here’s the case of a couple where the wife was so unhappy she had begun contemplating divorce. Then she made an unexpected discovery.
Over the years, I’ve seen many couples whose presenting complaint revolves around sex. Usually it’s because the sex is too infrequent, too lackluster, or at the male parter has some kind of sexual dysfunction. (I’ve only seen one case where the complaint was too much sex!) As usual, unless there’s a biological problem, the sexual relationship is embedded in the larger emotional/psychological dance of the couple. Learning about this dance, and how to do some new steps, can change everything.
Therapist Avi Klein wrote about the shame many men feel about their emotions, particularly feelings that expose a sense of vulnerability. We see men like that often in therapy with couples. Here’s a case of how one man allowed himself to be un-masked, and how it transformed the couple’s relationship.