As a licensed psychologist and marriage counselor in Manhattan, Greenwich, CT and White Plains, NY, I have been providing marriage counseling and couples therapy in Connecticut and New York for over 30 years.
Committed relationships are the most fundamental form of human connection. They provide an important sense of fulfillment, purpose, belonging and security.
Differences and disagreements occur in every honest relationship. Differences are healthy and natural.
However, if you and your partner begin to feel like nothing ever gets resolved, that the same arguments happen again and again, and that chronic resentments are starting to settle in, it is usually a matter of time before you start protecting yourself by feeling disconnected from your partner and begin to withdraw emotionally and physically. Disconnection results in further feelings of rejection, abandonment and insecurity.
Couples deal with this feeling of disconnection in different ways. Sometimes a couple has an unspoken agreement, where both are pretending that nothing is wrong. Sometimes a couple defaults into a chronic state of bickering and hostility. Alternatively, a "roller-coaster" relationship may develop, with frequent fighting followed by "cold war" or, possibly, make-up periods. When bad behaviors/interactions repeatedly occur, the negative patterns can become entrenched. This is a sign that your relationship requires professional help.
When these repeated hurts, slights and disappointments start accumulating, they result in emotional pain and withdrawal. Sometimes a partner deals with his/her pain by engaging in excessive self-indulgence (compulsive shopping or spending, using alcohol/drugs in order to emotionally escape, compulsive eating and other sabotaging behaviors). This process also leaves the relationship open to acting-out in the form of flirtations or affairs, which serve as a fantasy/real escape from the painful stress and feelings of aloneness.
Some signs of relationship problems
- Lack of Intimacy (emotional and/or physical)
- Loss of empathy or genuine concern for the other's well-being
- Frequent bickering, "correcting" each other, unnecessary criticism
- Engaging in a lot of arguments, with no resolution
- Constant tension in the home
- Chronic, low level resentment
- Trust issues
- Going around in frustrating circles when you try to discuss it.
- Sexual problems (including sexual avoidance)
- Disrespect (expressed or not)
- Controlling behavior
- Passive-aggressive acting out (expressing resentment by what you/your partner don't do or don't say)
- Mean-spiritedness/outright anger, rage or violence
- Feeling your partner is ignoring or dismissing (minimizing) your upset
How marriage counseling and couples therapy help
My approach, as a Greenwich and White Plains couples therapist and marriage counselor, is tailored to meet the couple's particular treatment needs. Some couples need to increase their communication and relationship skills. Some couples need help to learn to impose controls on their problematic behavior and communication (what they say and how they say it) in their roller-coaster relationship. Some couples need individual therapy until they can even tolerate just sitting together, in the same room, without fighting or someone storming out.
For each couple, I provide a particular mixture of insightful understanding, relevant couple's relationship coaching and educational information, in addition to using a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach to implement change.
Couples counseling with a licensed, experienced professional psychologist can help you and your partner clearly identify the negative behavior patterns you each contribute. It will also provide you with the cognitive and relationship tools you need to help you feel and act differently towards your partner.
You will learn positive, productive methods to deal with and overcome the hurt, frustration and disconnect that can occur within intimate relationships. Engaging in effective communication and learning better ways to view and treat each other will be stressed. Couple's or marital therapy will help you look beyond past hurts, providing an opportunity to give reassurance and emotional support to each other.
During our marriage counseling and relationship counseling sessions, you and your partner will have a receptive environment that allows for opportunity to express yourself without interruption or criticism. It will also serve as a model for your communication with each other. You will learn techniques to manage and resolve relationship disagreements with more patience and compassion.
You and your partner will benefit from psychotherapy sessions by developing a better understanding of each other, identifying each person's needs and learning how to work through unresolved issues more comfortably. You will be provided with techniques to strengthen the relationship and to navigate through the rough waters of experiencing, understanding and respecting your partner's point of view, even if he/she sees the issue differently.
Work will also focus on forgiveness and the rebuilding of trust, essential in any secure, well-bonded relationship.
Our work will help you manage your own feelings and allow you to develop the skills to be a better listener, even when you do not agree with your partner. Couples and marriage counseling provides the essentials of respectful communication skills so that both you and your partner feel heard and understood. We will then develop relationship skills to work out how to deal with your differences, without resentment or holding onto other negative feelings. The process of improved communication skills and letting go of past hurts/issues will provide the opportunity for you to get back on track, to enjoy the love and trust that an honest, respectful, emotionally open, intimate relationship can bring.
Eventually, the relationship starts to feel emotionally bankrupt and empty. When there are no reserves left to draw upon, disillusionment and sometimes contempt set in, leaving the couple feeling bereft, struggling against the vast unbridgeable gulf that has developed between them.
Consider getting relationship counseling before your relationship deteriorates to this point.
It can sometimes be difficult to stop negative patterns once they have become fully ingrained.
Engaging in frequent unhealthy, repetitive patterns causes significant damage to the relationship and creates an emotionally toxic psychological environment.
It is important to seek help as soon as you identify a negative pattern developing between you, and you find yourselves just going around and around in mutually frustrating circles when you try to discuss it.
White Plains, New York Psychotherapy Office