Couples Therapy – Campbell & San Jose, CA
When a relationship is going well, it can be intoxicating, thrilling, and bring so much happiness to our lives. When it’s not going so well, it can feel like the biggest hurdle to overcome and feelings of hopelessness, negativity and anger can overwhelm us.
When we meet with couples, we address some of the core issues they’ve been facing, and we also individualize our approach so that each person walks away feeling like they have the tools to communicate more effectively with their partner, resolve conflicts, master the art of compromise, manage their emotions, and experience more relationship satisfaction. Wondering if you and your partner can benefit from couples therapy? Check out the top three issues we see come through our doors.
Like the saying goes, communication is key! But there are many ways people communicate and when you have two different communication styles, it can often lead to problems. In couples therapy, you and your partner will learn to recognize your communication style, how you learned this style (usually from family or previous experiences), and how to tweak your style so that you can feel heard and understood by your partner.
Since communication is important in any relationship, we offer tools and skills to help you express your needs and resolve conflicts more effectively. So instead of attacking your partner’s character when you’re angry, you can say something like, “It really hurt me when you called me stupid.” This definitely takes practice and doesn’t come as easily (especially when you’re mad), but you’re more likely to get a better response.
It’s devastating to learn that your partner cheated and you might be left wondering if you can ever forgive him/her or save the relationship. Trust is such an important, but a fragile, part of the relationship because once trust is damaged, it can take some time to rebuild it. Whatever the cause of mistrust, couples therapy is a safe space to discuss the betrayal, anger, guilt, and/or shame.
Through couples therapy, there may be a chance for you to save the relationship, and in some cases, even have a stronger relationship than before. It can be your chance to understand what was happening around the time the cheating took place, feel understood, and create a better relationship.
When most people think of intimacy, they usually think sex, but intimacy is a lot more than that. Intimacy is about feeling close and connected to your partner, which means knowing who they are and what they need/want. But when intimacy is lacking or threatened, you’re more likely to feel unheard and rejected, leading you to close off even more.
For instance, do you feel like you can’t open up completely because of a previous heartbreak? This is probably because from that bad experience, you learned that if you get too close, you could get hurt. But the ironic and sad part of this is that if you don’t allow yourself to get close, you won’t have an intimate relationship either.
In couples therapy, you and your partner can learn to build intimacy to get that “soul mate” type of relationship and a healthy sexual relationship. This happens by feeling accepted and heard by your partner, expressing your needs and feelings without any walls or defenses, and being vulnerable. Sometimes your partner can even accidentally trigger your fear of intimacy from the past and you might find yourself going back into your shell. It takes patience, a supportive partner, and the right tools to heal from emotional wounds. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone because there are professionals that can assist you and your partner.
It’s devastating to learn that your partner cheated on you and you might be left wondering if you can forgive him/her and save the relationship. An affair can also make you question your entire relationship and make you feel like a fool for not seeing the signs earlier. During this time, you may experience a lot of different emotions, such as betrayal, hurt, guilt/shame, and anger, all of which are very normal. Although it’s difficult and may seem impossible, it takes strength, commitment, and honest communication to rebuild the relationship. Sometimes resolution also comes in the form of realizing that you both prefer to go your separate ways.
Feels like We’re Roommates
Nothing feels worse than when your partner starts feeling like a roommate. Instead of just co-existing together, it’s important that you and your partner feel emotionally, physically, and mentally connected. Couples therapy can help explore what’s missing and how to build that connection, so at the end of a long day, you can feel like you’re going home to someone who understands you, and not just some roommate.
Let’s face it, it’s enough having to deal with your own family, but when you’re in a relationship, you’re likely going to have to interact with your partner’s family too. It’s great if you love his/her family, but discord with in-laws or other family members can be a huge source of stress and anxiety for the relationship. For instance, if you feel like your partner didn’t stand up for you to his parents, it’s likely that the lack of support is going to raise a lot of issues in the relationship. If this is you, come and talk about it!
This is probably the most indicative of when couples therapy is needed because contempt in a relationship is very dangerous. It takes a long history of negative thoughts about your partner to build contempt. When there is disrespect, insulting comments, and ridicule, it leads to one or both partners to feel worthless. Couples therapy can be helpful to understand how/why there is contempt and figure out how you can get rid of it in the relationship.
Lack of Attraction
Most likely when you started your relationship, you were attracted to your partner. When you start feeling less attracted to your partner, it can impact your intimacy and overall satisfaction with the relationship. Many things can cause a lack of attraction, such as “letting go” of oneself, hormones, and feeling unmotivated. Although being open and communicating the lack of attraction with your partner is difficult, it is also important to discuss this issue in a sensitive and careful manner. The lack of attraction felt in the relationship can sometimes be a gateway to other issues, like an emotional or physical affair.
You probably once thought that you and your partner are on the same page about everything in life…until you had children. Your parenting style can be influenced by many factors, such as your own experience as a child or your environment. When you have two people with different experiences, you’re bound to have some differences in your outlook of raising children. But, it’s important that parents stand united because children require consistency in rules, limits, and rewards. Some parents are comfortable setting rules and being firm about enforcing them, while others may find it difficult. For instance, you know rules aren’t consistent
when a child says, “but Mom lets me eat ice cream before dinner,” and it’s also likely that your partner’s authority is being undermined.
Money is one of the biggest causes for couple arguments and disagreements. As big of an issue as this is, it’s surprising how couples avoid discussing this before and during their marriage. There is this notion that speaking about finances is too personal, but when you’re going to be married or are married, nothing is “too personal.” Just like parenting styles, our approach about money is impacted by how we were raised and what we were taught about money. Some people prefer to be very cautious about their spending while others like to “live in the moment” and neither have to be right or wrong. It’s more important to find a balance that works for the relationship and the only way to figure out what works is to talk about it (preferably before you enter the marriage).
What to Expect in Your First Couple’s Session
So, you’ve decided to make your first appointment. I bet you’re thinking, “Gosh, what is going to happen during this session?” If you’re feeling anxious, you’re not alone! To help you feel more comfortable, here are some things you can expect in your first session.
You and your partner will complete intake forms before the session, which consists of the informed consent and a quick questionnaire to help the therapist have some basic information about you. Be sure that you read through the forms and ask/clarify any questions or concerns you have in the beginning of the session.
Tell Your Story
In the first session, you might be asked to share how you met, discuss your individual childhood experiences, previous relationship history, past experiences in the relationship, etc. Gathering this type of information can help the therapist understand and possibly make connections to the current issues that you’re experiencing. This can sometimes be a very valuable time for you because it forces you to think about how your relationship used to be and when things started to go downhill.
Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t really even know where to start when asked to share your “story.” Many clients feel overwhelmed with trying to decide what’s relevant and what’s not. Your therapist can help guide you with what information to share, so you don’t need a whole spiel prepared.
Future Sessions and Goals
Although one session isn’t enough to gather all the relevant information, the therapist should have a pretty good idea about what the future sessions should look like. The therapist will also ask and collaborate on therapy goals for the couple to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Sometimes couples can have different goals based on the issues they perceive in the relationship and the therapist can help formulate a goal that works for both people.
There are a lot of good therapists and sometimes it can be hard to figure out which is the right fit for you. Even if you think that it’s hard to tell within the first session, it can still be a pretty good indicator of how much you felt heard/understood and whether you feel that the therapist can help with the issues you’re facing. Another thing to consider when you’re deciding this is to reflect on how open you felt and if there was any worry of being judged or criticized by the therapist. You want to make sure that you don’t feel like the therapist is being biased. Sure, the therapist might challenge one or both partners at times, but you want to feel secure that the therapist isn’t always siding with one partner. Ultimately, you and your partner both want to feel comfortable with the therapist. Here at Uplift Psychology Group, we value building strong relationships with each person we work with, so we want to make sure we’re all on the same page before we schedule more sessions.
If you have any questions or concerns about starting with your first session, don’t hesitate. Just ask us through an email or over the phone!