Couple Counseling




Does this sound like you?

What’s wrong with us? Why do we fight?  We don’t have fun anymore. Where has romance gone? Would you like to improve your relationship?

Are you concerned that your relationship will not survive?

Do you suffer from the aftermath of an affair?

Relationships do not get better on their own.  Sometimes couples give up because they do not know what else to do.  Ending a marital relationship takes its toll on both partners.

Surprisingly, you do not leave your problems behind.  Ending a relationship without sorting out how you participated in its unraveling makes you vulnerable repeating your mistakes.  Fifty percent of first marriages and sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce.

It takes guidance to change a relationship for the better.  Guidance is not enough, however.  Using guidance takes a willingness to examine what you have done and are doing to perpetuate the disconnects and discontent.ships  willingness to learn what you are doing to make it more difficult.  And it guidance and a it is important not to let problems fester, but instead find ways to work through them and move on to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.

A leading researcher in couples therapy, Harville Hendrix,PhD., has written about three stages in relationship: the infatuation phase, power and control, and romance.

The infatuation phase happens at the beginning of a relationship when a couple first falls in love. It is then that one’s future partner is fascinating, desirable, funny, and you can’t get enough of him or her. While this phase lasts, all we need to do is enjoy and remember it. Unfortunately for most couples, it ends. The reasons are numerous, but may include such factors as work pressures, having children, pressures of running a home, or are simply a natural drop in the exhilaration of the initial infatuation.

The next phase in relationships that many couples face is called power and control. This phase can last years or the entire rest of the relationship. Power and control is characterized by the continuing struggle between two individuals to be recognized and affirmed by their partner.

Such affirmation is often sought indirectly. An individual may need to win an argument, have their partner concede error, or be acknowledged as being right on an issue. The struggle in power and control can take the joy out of a relationship, result in score keeping, and lead to resentment, emotional distancing and even the end of a relationship.

This is the stage in many relationships that brings couples into therapy. After attempting to work things out on their own, many couples finally realize that they have gotten stuck and it’s time to get some help in trying new strategies to get their relationship onto a positive track.

While initially a couple might think their problem lies in not being able to communicate with each other (saying “she doesn’t understand me” or “he doesn’t listen to me”), during therapy it quickly becomes clear that each person is carrying baggage from their past that is interfering with their present relationship.

The work of a couple’s therapist is to help each person understand their part in the troubled relationship, be able to recognize and express their wants and needs, learn to listen to each other openly and without judgment, and learn to accept their partner for who they are rather than who the other partner wants them to be.

These are very challenging tasks for any couple. The requirements for healthy change include a willingness to abandon some long held and cherished beliefs about one’s “rightness,” dropping some of one’s defensiveness and inflexibility, an openness to new possibilities, and a greater vulnerability to one’s partner.

The goal is to love and be loved, even if at times there may be some pain and disappointment. The outcome of working through of conflicts, and releasing of behavior patterns learned in childhood, is the chance to enter the romantic phase of relationship. This is the goal, and even if a couple can only remain in it for limited periods, it is worth the effort.

In the romantic phase, the couple can play and laugh together, be curious rather than critical, accepting instead of rejecting, and enjoy each other’s company. In the romantic phase sex is better, communication is better, life is better.

Let us help you address your concerns.  

Call Potomac Grove Psychiatry today for an appointment: 301-963-0060.