A lot of the time, when I meet a couple in couples counseling over the past 15 years, one partner usually feels that they are the “better” partner (more emotionally mature, try harder, want to work things through and move on), and they let me know that (sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly). Almost always each partner has a version of what’s wrong with their partner and what needs to change for everything to be OK in their relationship. Almost never does their view of “what needs to change” involve them changing. When partners have gone for a long time not getting their needs met, they generally conclude that they are just not with the right person. Never mind that they’ve been together for years, have a family together and their lives are completely intertwined. “Maybe we’re just not meant to be together anymore.” Most couples want to spend a lot of time giving me the evidence that their partner is in the wrong and that they are in the right.
Does this sound at all familiar?... You tried for a long time to get your needs met and you have probably come to a conclusion that sounds like: my partner is just a jerk, he (or she) is just not capable, she (or he) is never going to change, he doesn't care about me, he doesn't love me enough...or some version of “blame your partner.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I think he or she is a narcissist” because the accusing partner’s attempts to get their needs met aren’t working and so it MUST be that their partner is just plain old self-centered. Partners then double down on their strategies and a negative feedback loop is created. The loop looks goes something like this: The more I try to get my needs met and fail, the more upset and angrier I am with you and the less you want to meet my needs or feel competent to do so. We push each other away.
Problems in relationships (outside of ongoing adultery, addiction or abuse) are systemic. So what the heck does THAT mean?
It means you aren’t with the wrong person, your partner isn’t the bad guy and you both are stuck in a painful cycle of trying to get needs met and failing and then coming to a negative conclusion about yourself and/or your partner and your marriage.
A good couple’s counselor can help you identify and understand your cycle which then creates opportunities to shift the cycle into one where needs get met, safety is created and a secure bond is established. Word of caution: This process can be intense and will touch into your deepest vulnerabilities. It is not for wussies. Don’t give up on your marriage or your family. Fight for it. Be ready to change. You both need to change for this to work. It’s going to be a change for the better!
If you are ready to get real, give me a call.
I am seeing couples online via Telehealth or in office. 720-370-3010