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Why is couples therapy so hard?

Let's face it, it is.  From my years of experience working with all sorts of treatment dynamics, I can tell you that often times the hardest dyanmic to treat is the couple.  Why?  Although it seems complicated, its actually pretty simple.  Couples often wait too long when they are in stress, before they seek out professional help.  I can't tell you the number of times I've heard "well this is our last effort before we start calling divorce lawyers". Whoa!  And, most times, couples often mean exactly that.  Why is this an issue in therapy?  Often times, by the time a couple is googling divorce lawyers in the area, they have such a long, sordid laundry list of resentments toward each other and problems that have accumulated for years.  Resentment works like the buildings of a brick wall, each layer goes on and eventually creates an impermeable wall that is often hard to deconstruct.  These walls of resentment effect the way a partner views the other partner, their relationship, and many other aspects of life.  It often, if not nearly always, leads to much more negative views of the relationships and feelings of the relationship then actual exist.  However, if we view our partner negatively, we will tend to view the relationship and all that goes with it negatively as well, then our actions toward each other become negative and thus begits the cycle of arguing over silly small stuff ("Are you EVER going to pick your socks up off of the floor?-yup, I've heard that one!)


Here is the positive news.  The walls of resentment CAN be deconstructed.  However, it will take time to do so.  Couples therapy requires each partner to have a considerable amount of patience.  Things will not change overnight, or after a couple of therapy sessions.  Often I see couples who still very much love each other and want to get things back on track.  They are anxious to reestablish a connection (makes sense right?).  But they often have unrealistic views of how therapy can help them, and how quickly it will happen.  It took months, often years to get to this breaking point.  A couple (or times not even a few) sessions will not resolve what took several months or years to break.  I will always be upfront with my couples about that.  There is no quick fix for things that are so important in life.  In time however, couples can find togetherness, and rekindle their relationship in therapy.  Always talk to your therapist about timelines and always ask any questions you have about what to expect in couples therapy.

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