When I work with couples there are some characteristics or attributes that seem to signal a higher chance of improvement, regardless of whether they are attending for communication issues, or an emotional or sexual infidelity. This is a brief listing for your contemplation.
- BOTH want to try and work on the relationship in a genuine and committed fashion that acknowledges the need for MUTUAL improvement (NOT fix my partner!)
- BOTH are willing to not only put in the effort and work in the therapy session, but outside in their day to day life.
- BOTH are open minded to new ideas, concepts, modes of communicating and working together.
- BOTH maintain their commitment and effort as a priority over other areas of their lives that are best as secondary.
- BOTH understand that it may be HARDWORK and may take some time to find their desired goals.
I often ask my couple clients a rather unusual question that is usually met with reticence and a suspicious look. I ask them what two plus two is. If I get no response I volunteer the correct answer of four. Then I ask where they learned this and at this point they tend to respond; school. I acknowledge their answer and quickly ask them where they learned how to have a relationship. This is when the fun begins. Hopefully you can also see the connection here in the questioning. At best we learn to have a relationship from observation of our environment and this can be anything from, parents/caregivers, stories, T.V., movies or maybe even cartoons! Yet in many other areas of life and some arguably less important we are specifically taught how to learn these other various subjects. What about one of the most important aspects of our existence, relationships!
Most often when couples come in to see me something is very wrong in the present or has been for a very long time. When this happens the focus tends to be toward “fixing” the problems, behaviors, and actions that are a source of conflict or pain. It is easy to get into a cycle of negativity where most of what we see in our partner is a problem. It is important to recognize this pattern as well and make changes in our perception as well. Sometimes couples can begin to feel better about their relationship when they can once again see the other as a whole person not just with flaws and “bad behaviors” but with the more positive attributes as well.
Read some different exercises and activities you can do to hopefully feel better about your relationship.