Is The Connection In Your Relationship Slowly Crumbling?
Do you feel unloved, misunderstood, or emotionally disconnected from your spouse or partner? You may be stuck in a negative communication pattern—with frequent arguments, fights, criticism, or defensiveness being the order of the day. Or perhaps you feel that something isn’t right in your relationship, but you just can’t seem to pinpoint the issue.
You may feel lonely, isolated, and distant from your partner due to decreased emotional and physical intimacy. And as a result, your relationship feels more like you’re spending time with a roommate than a romantic partner. Maybe a betrayal of one form or another or an increase of secrecy has caused a lack of trust between you and your spouse. Or perhaps there’s tension with family members or friends because they don’t approve of your partner, and so you withdraw and avoid events to prevent possible fights.
Whatever the source of the conflict, you may have noticed that the disconnect between you and your partner is affecting your life as a whole. For example, constant stress in your relationship can weaken your immune system and lead to physical health problems and related issues, such as low energy levels, bad eating habits, and poor sleeping patterns. And without a safe space to work through relationship issues, you may struggle to concentrate at work or keep up with day-to-day responsibilities.
Perhaps you’ve realized that waiting out the tough times hasn’t solved your problems. And as you feel increasingly isolated, withdrawn, lonely, sad, frustrated, or angry, you may wonder where you can turn to find reliable support and guidance.
Meeting with a couples or marriage therapist can help you improve your communication, manage conflict, resolve problems, and restore a deep connection in your relationship once again. Instead of working against each other, you can learn to be on the same team and build the kind of relationship you always wanted.
Every Relationship Has Its Ebbs and Flows
Relationship conflict and communication issues for couples are as old as the institution of marriage itself. Even the strongest relationships experience ups and downs. Modern life aspects—such as job pressures, financial stressors, life transitions, substance abuse issues, and the like—simply add more impetus to these ebbs and flows.
More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has created even more fertile soil for relationship problems to sprout. Social distancing, living in close quarters for an extended time due to shelter-in-place orders, loss of income, and challenges with homeschooling children are just a few factors that add to increased tension between couples.
According to Dr. John Gottman, about 69 percent of relationship conflict is about persistent, unresolved issues.1 Generally speaking, many couples simply wait too long to reach out for support. And without addressing the problems, the emotional disconnect can grow, walls go up, and feelings of isolation and loneliness become overwhelming. This creates a chasm that many couples feel helpless to bridge. Some try to “deal” with the situation through alcohol and substance abuse, or they end up having an affair. Others throw in the towel and look for separation or divorce.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Improving communication skills and learning problem-solving techniques that really work is an integral part of couples and marriage counseling. When you work with a skilled couples or marriage counselor, either in-person or online, you can learn new ways to build, enhance, or maintain a healthy marriage.
Couples Counseling Can Help You Build A Durable Relationship
The strategies you use to navigate a disconnect with extended family, friends, or coworkers may not be as effective when trying to address conflict with your partner or spouse. The truth is that many of us were never taught how to relate as a couple, and general communication skills may not work to overcome issues in a romantic relationship.
Couples and marriage counseling provides a safe environment and practical tools to help you understand each other better—improving dialogue, cultivating your friendship, reconnecting daily, and sharing thoughts and feelings. It also teaches you the skills to manage conflict and solve problems together, so you can process uncomfortable emotions or incidents without becoming defensive or placing blame.
To facilitate a stronger connection, I incorporate a range of empirically-supported treatment approaches:
I am trained in Gottman Method Couples Therapy with additional Level 3 Practicum Training. Based on John and Julie Gottman’s extensive studies of couples, this method explores why some relationships do well and others don’t, and which interventions, tools, and skills can help a couple overcome these issues. Based on over 35 years of research, the Gottman Method Couples Therapy focuses on nine components of healthy relationships to increase intimacy, empathy, respect, and affection.
- Build love maps to better understand your partner.
- Share fondness and admiration.
- Turn toward your partner instead of away.
- Build a positive perspective when solving problems.
- Manage conflict.
- Make life dreams come true.
- Create shared meaning.
- Increase trust.
- Commit to your partner instead of magnifying negatives or nurturing resentment.
The root of a healthy relationship is the underlying friendship and how you feel about each other. In fact, the strength of your friendship often predicts how and why communication challenges or conflicts may arise. By facilitating clear, healthy communication between you and your partner about your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, I can help you strengthen and rebuild your friendship from the ground up.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
EFT is a humanistic approach based on the belief that our emotions are a guide to our identity and decision-making. During sessions, you and your partner will learn how to increase overall emotional intelligence (EI) and awareness when communicating with each other—awareness of your own emotions and triggers as well as your partner’s.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is about learning how to be open and aware of your thoughts and feelings and to accept them instead of struggle against them. In doing so, you discover how to connect with your values individually and as a couple so you can take actions in line with those values instead of struggling with hurt feelings.
At its core, ACT is about building relationship skills:
- Gain awareness of you and your partner’s needs and goals to become more present and engaged with yourself and each other.
- Develop psychological flexibility so you can adapt to changes and challenges with greater openness and focus.
- Identify what is most important to you and your partner in the moment so you can both take action during times of transition or conflict that supports and strengthens your connection instead of focusing on the negatives.
How Does Couples & Marriage Therapy Work?
The main goal of relationship counseling is to get to the core issues that may be lying under the surface and often go unnoticed or are misunderstood. However, we’ll do more than just talk about the details and address surface issues. My goal is to get to know your unique connection, background, and experiences and work with that knowledge to help you build a deep, lasting relationship.
In order to tailor each counseling session to your challenges, strengths, and needs, we will start with a comprehensive assessment. During our initial sessions, we’ll complete the comprehensive, Gottman Relationship Inventory which is provided FREE for all of our clients. This research-based Relationship Checkup scores your relationship strengths and challenges while providing specific recommendations for healing and growth. Together, we will go over the findings of the assessment in detail in order to establish clear goals and strategies you can use to move forward in your relationship.
My focus is to understand your unique situation as a couple so I can provide the practical skills, strategies, and resources you need to recognize sources of conflict and work toward solutions together.
You may still have questions about couples and marriage counseling...
How do I get my partner to come to couples therapy with me?
Sometimes, one partner is ready to work on relationship issues through counseling while the other has no interest yet. My focus is on establishing trust and ensuring both partners feel heard and valued, not on placing blame, and I certainly can’t force anyone to come in. My suggestion is that you start on your own, and your partner may choose to join when they see the benefits that your work is having on the relationship.
It’s difficult for us to coordinate schedules to meet together.
In Montana, everything is very spread out and rural, and I understand that it might be difficult to get to in-office sessions together. That’s exactly why I offer online couples counseling. It allows for more flexibility and convenience—you can skip the commute time, attend sessions from the comfort of your home, and even connect from two different locations if work or other circumstances won’t allow you to attend from the same place.
We’ve tried marriage counseling before. Why would your approach be different from other couples counselors?
Given my medical background, I seek to utilize counseling methods in my approach that are thoroughly researched, evidence-based, and proven to help couples. Plus, before we begin exploring solutions, we will complete a thorough assessment to ensure every goal and strategy is tailored to your unique challenges and needs. This assessment includes the FREE Gottman Relationship Checkup which automatically scores your relationship’s strengths and challenges and provides detailed recommendations for intervention.
Learn To Build A Strong And Close Connection
If you’re ready to improve your communication skills, learn to resolve conflict, and cultivate a healthier connection as a couple, I invite you to call (406) 317-3115 or contact me through my website. I’m happy to discuss and answer any questions you may have.