Common Therapy Topics

Many of the challenges that couples face are very common, and others are unique. Below are descriptions of some of the most common problems and how I can help. If you do not see your concerns in this list, give me a call anyway. With well over 20 years of experience, there are very few situations I have not seen and I likely have some insights you’d find helpful.

 

Lack of Communication

Communication can dry up in lots of ways and for lots of different reasons. We’ll pinpoint the “how” and the “why” of yours, so that we can address the underlying obstacles and generate options for making it easier. We’ll also practice the new communication patterns to help you make them a habit that works for both of you.
 

Conflict and Resentment

When conflict goes on for too long, either outwardly as arguing, or inwardly as tension, it creates resentment. Anger and resentment are the natural outcome of having needs and wants that go unaddressed for too long. Once the obstacles to communication are addressed, couples find that they can work out their differences, and resentment stops. In time, even long-standing resentment can be healed if the needs and wants behind it can be heard, understood, and addressed.

 

Drifting Apart

The antidote to drifting apart is friendship and communication — but that’s easier said than done. No couple purposely sets out to drift apart, but the different stresses that you each experience can lead to lonely and even conflicting coping strategies. The balance between togetherness and separateness shifts too far towards the latter. But couples can consciously decide to make it a habit to turn “towards” each other, rather than “away,” while still fostering their separate identities and pursuits. It’s all about balance and about finding a way to address the obstacles so that it’s easier.

 

Affair Recovery

When couples have experienced an affair, the therapy process naturally falls into two stages. The first is to create security in the marriage by making a clear boundary and by learning how to live within that commitment. For example we might discuss what to do about unwanted images and thoughts. Whether the affair was yours or your spouse’s, whether it was emotional or physical, both partners need to know what to do when/if things are still very sensitive. The second stage is devoted to understanding the unaddressed, underlying weaknesses in the relationship that made the affair possible. In this stage, couples have moved beyond the immediate effects of the affair and are working, like all couples in therapy, on making their relationship better.

 

Differences in Parenting Style

The two main tasks of parenting are to nurture and to teach. Nurture gives the child a sense of his/her own specialness, wonder and worth just because they exist! Teaching gives structure to a child’s experience and information about how family life and eventually the wider world is structured and how it works. When parents differ in their styles it is usually the case that one tends towards teaching and the other towards nurture. Children need both. When these dimensions begin to polarize, however, teaching can become harsh expectation and nurture can become lenient permissiveness. We will work to balance and foster the healthy version of these two parenting dimensions, finding a unified approach that both parents can support.

 

Obstacles to Sexual Intimacy

Almost always, difficulties in the sexual relationship stem from conflict or estrangement in other areas of the relationship. In addition, there are often natural differences between spouses in their rhythms for frequency and transitioning into a sexual frame of mind. As we become older our bodies may not respond in exactly the same ways that they did when we were younger. All of these things can be talked about and understood. When problems are solved and the feeling of friendship returns, intimacy can again take its place in all its various forms, including sexuality.

 

Balancing Work and Family

This is one of the most common challenges that couples face. With more and more technology available to keep us connected, many work environments expect nearly 24/7 access to the worker’s time. One’s spouse and family can begin to feel lonely and unimportant, and those feelings can be made even worse if the less occupied spouse does not have enough interests of their own.
In addition, even without the pressures created by technology and demanding jobs, spouses can have differing approaches to making the daily transition from family to work and back to family. I enjoy helping couples work out the balance that is best for them. Getting the balance just right can make a world of difference in the happiness and ease of creating a life together that works.

 

Strong Emotions

When things are difficult, strong emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression or grief can be part of the challenge. Strong emotions are red flags that something isn’t right and needs to be attended to. To the extent that these emotions and moods stem from problems in the relationship, they will drop away as those problems are solved. In the meantime, I will help you work with your strong emotion to achieve the best possible result for you. If an emotion or mood seems to have a life of its own, beyond the situational factors, we can discuss your interest or not in exploring the possibility of medication.