We have noticed how often people come to their first session feeling anxious. It is a big step to acknowledge that you need outside help to improve your relationships. Many times we hear from people that they tried to fix their relationship on their own and it didn’t work. Or, people feel they should be able to fix their relationships without having to go to some stranger. We would like to settle this question once and for all.
Most people are Never taught how to have a good relationship. We usually learn how to be in a relationship by watching others. We start by watching our parents interact with each other and usually note what we don’t like and absorb what we do. As we attract our first significant other we practice with them. We then begin to see what works and what doesn’t work for all our friends relationships until we settle into a kind of habit. This habit results from trial and error. Most people will go through the heartbreak of breaking up with someone and being on the other end of being broken up with. We learn how to deal with feelings. We communicate in the best way we know how. Over a long period of time we settle into the way we relate to our partner. Most of the time we find that our relationships are okay, not horrible but not great. After a while a lot of people lose that loving feeling and just settle into life. What if those good feelings for your partner could continue to grow?
When people come to see us and they are feeling anxious it is because they don’t know what to expect. They don’t know if we are going to tell them that they are wrong, if we are going to choose sides, or if it just is not going to help. What we find is that each couple is unique. Some are commited to working through the problems. Others are here to see if something esle might work but go home and do nothing different. Still other couples come in and one partner has really already left but is putting on a good show of “trying”. What we tell everyone is that their therapy sessions could be fantastic but if they don’t change how they act with each other at home nothing will change. In order to facilitate that change we give simple homework assignments, sometimes lasting only fifteen minutes, twice a week. We also have you practice new communication skills in the office. This way we can referee when you drop back into your old habits and give you many suggestions on how you could have said something differently. We do a fair amount of talking but balance that with you talking to your partner. You will share your hopes and fears.
We are often asked how long will it take. That is up to you and how hard you work with each other at home. The fastest time that anyone has significantly turned around their relationship was five weeks and the slowest time was two years. The couple that worked fast had a deep connection and love for each other that made them want to try everything. When they did and it worked they tried even harder. The couple that took longer both had difficulty trusting their self and their partner. They had to work on personal issues while trying to make a relationship work. In the end it worked because they were in it for the long haul. We have seen that when both people have a deep commitment to making their relationship work, it eventually will.