If you are feeling unsatisfied or bored in your long-term relationship, you may be anxious about your future with your partner. You might feel as though you only talk about daily chores or logistics, but never about what either of you think or feel. Perhaps you and your partner fight nearly every day. Maybe you’ve lodged a personal attack, or your partner has criticized you or called you names.
You may be spending your days distracted, preoccupied by worries about your relationship. You might have trouble sleeping or experiencing a change in eating patterns. Perhaps you are unhappy and feel stuck, but are unsure that you could go through life without your partner. You may want your relationship to return to the way it used to be, when you and your partner expressed love and support for each other.
Many long-term couples experience a gradual decline in effective communication. “Talking” and “communication” are very different. You can talk to a stranger. However, when you communicate, you do more than simply talk – you share intimate details about your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and fears.
When you have been with your partner for years or decades, it can be easy to take him or her for granted. While living together, raising children together, running a business together, and just generally sharing every day, many couples find themselves caught up in daily chores and to-do lists and forget to engage in meaningful conversation with each other. And, when life gets stressful, couples can often take anger and frustration out on each other.
When communication stops, it can feel impossible to connect and resolve issues. Even seemingly small things can result in major arguments that escalate into personal attacks. Some couples fight for days, have a period of resolution, and then begin fighting again. This pattern of intense argument and brief peace is an indication that communication has broken down.
You might feel as though you are not being heard, or that your partner is not putting any work in your relationship. Maybe you have trouble expressing what you really feel. Quite possibly, your partner is experiencing similar doubts and resentments, but he or she doesn’t know how to effectively and healthily share those feelings. But, with help, you and your partner can learn to communicate again.
With the help of the experienced therapists at Waterford Counseling and Psychological Services, you and your partner can work through your communication issues in couples counseling. Our therapists are all trained in Gottman Couples Therapy, which integrates psychological research to focus on resolving conflict. We understand that you and your partner might be hurt, angry, or just discouraged. Your therapist can help you both move away from blame and clarify your needs and values, which may have changed after years in your relationship.
Your therapist can also observe they way you and your partner interact with each other and help you identify and avoid dysfunctional communication patterns, such as lodging personal attacks or refusing to speak at all. In couples counseling, you can develop tools to listen actively, understand your emotions in the heat of an argument, and how to diffuse high-tension situations. Once you have learned to recognize the things that make you upset and the ways in which you react, you can choose to break out of damaging cycles of fighting and/or ignoring one other.
The therapists at Waterford Counseling work with patience and understanding. Your therapist will help you develop open, honest, and forgiving communication so that you can share your real fears, hopes, and desires with your partner. You can get to know one another again. You may have grown apart as individuals, but if you make a sincere effort to work through your communication issue, you can grow together as a couple.
Although you may feel as though therapy can help you and your partner resolve communication issues, you may have questions or concerns…
Many people worry that their friends, family, and coworkers will think less of them if they seek therapy. You might be afraid that people will think something is wrong with you or your partner. But, marriage counseling is something you do for you and your partner, not for anyone else. When you seek therapy, you are making a proactive, healthy choice to work toward healing and happiness. And, because therapy is a completely non-judgmental and confidential space, you can share openly, honestly, and without fear.
If you feel as though therapy can help your relationship, you may feel discouraged if your partner refuses to participate. First, we encourage you to try to express how important working through communication issues is to you. If you partner still refuses to join you, you are welcome to attend sessions on your own. You can still process what is going on in your relationship, what you are feeling, and what his or her refusal might mean for you.
In addition, therapy can teach you valuable communication skills that you can apply in your relationship. As you learn tools to express your wants and emotions, you can begin to shift the dynamic of your everyday interactions and work through communication issues. When your partner notices a shift, he or she might be more willing to attend couples counseling with you.
Many people feel nervous when they are asked to open up and be honest. But, the more open and honest you can be in sessions, the more effectively you can work toward strengthening your relationship. If you hold things back, your partner might struggle to truly know you. When you are honest, you may reveal something to your partner that allows him or her to understand your wants and needs.
If you feel sad, helpless, and disconnected from your partner, Waterford Counseling and Psychological Services can help. You can break out of cycles of fighting, pain, and dysfunction. With dedication and a willingness to listen, you can learn to communicate with your partner again.
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