5 Relationship Paradigms
1. We're on the verge of divorce--are we too late?
Sadly, it is often the case that couples wait too long to get help; by the time they get to therapy, years of pain, resentment and disappointments have accumulated, and antagonistic positions have become entrenched.
But here's the good news: if you're reading this, it means you're open to the possibility of repair. You haven't given up! Change is possible if you both want it. Before deciding that your relationship is truly over, consider therapy as your "due diligence". Divorce is a big decision, and if there are children involved, it can have significant ramifications. In therapy, we'll discover if each of you are being the best versions of yourselves. I never take sides: there will be opportunity to air your grievances in a safe space, where you'll each be given a voice to get real and be heard. Then we'll focus on the present and future. You'll learn better ways to communicate with each other. All couples argue--the secret is in knowing how to repair.
As long as you are willing to fight for the survival of your marriage, I will be there with you to help. But should you discover that it is indeed time to go your separate ways--therapy can be used to facilitate the process, with special consideration given to the impact on your children and how to help them adapt to the change.
2. My partner had an affair. It's over, right?
It doesn't have to be. But first let's be clear: this can feel absolutely devastating and I understand that. You have been betrayed, and your head may be spinning with images of your partner with someone else. Suddenly, you wonder if your whole relationship has been a lie. You wonder how in the world you'll ever be able to trust your partner again.
From clinical experience, I can tell you that it's not only possible to overcome this seismic event in your relationship--you can actually come out on the other side with a better, deeper relationship.
It's a challenging process, but through our work together I'll encourage the partner who strayed to reflect back a true understanding of the impact their actions had on the betrayed partner. At the same time, I will help the betrayed partner understand what the straying partner was really looking for, what the affair meant, and how to bring that meaning back to suffuse and strengthen your relationship. You'll be surprised at how much more honest and real your relationship can get.
3. Actually, we're doing pretty well...a few problems here and there. Nothing serious.
This is the best time to come to therapy! Come before a minor problem escalates to something insurmountable, and avoid becoming the couple in paradigm #1.
You take your vehicle in for regular maintenance. Shouldn't you be treating your relationship the same way? Think of the years of your relationship like the mileage on your car, and bring yourselves in for Couples Maintenance.™
The differences in the ecology of your relationship correspond with natural life-cycle changes: just starting out, trying to have children, having and raising children, changing careers, going back to school, launching children away from home--different issues arise at each stage. In a series of limited sessions (as little as 1 to 3), you can nip potential problems in the bud, circumvent more serious challenges, and protect the investment that is your relationship.
4. We're in love and we're getting married!
Premarital counseling: this is another excellent time to come to therapy. Imagine a safe space where the two of you can be prophylactic about the success of your relationship. Perhaps you already know that money is often the single biggest source of conflict in a marriage. Have you discussed your respective philosophies about money, spending, and saving?
Equally important subjects:
Religion--if you share the same one, what role do you each want it to play in your lives? If you come from different faiths, how will you merge the two? In which faith, if any, will you raise your children?
Children--Do you both want kids? How many? What are your philosophies regarding discipline?
Space vs. Togetherness--Have you discussed your individual preferences?
Sex--It is surprising how little couples communicate about their sexual needs. Don't wait until ten years into the marriage to discover a significant sexual incompatibility.
Relationships with In-laws--You've probably heard the expression "you're not just marrying your spouse, you're marrying the family." It's important to process potential sources of familial conflict at the outset!
5. I'm struggling to find a relationship or remain committed to one.
You're logging into Match, JDate or OKCupid regularly--scrolling through profile after profile. Your friends try to set you up, you're tired of attending weddings solo, and your mother is giving up hope.
We are social creatures, and I can truly empathize with your desire to be in a relationship. Let me help you understand what is holding you back, how to get the love and companionship you want and deserve, and how to deal with internal forces that conspire against you staying in the relationship once you've found it.