Are you and your partner embattled with arguments seemingly arising out of nowhere?
Have you been feeling increasingly lonely and disconnected from your mate?
Are you wondering how to recapture all the love you once held for your spouse?
Has infidelity shaken your marriage and your world?
If your relationship has been floundering or sinking and thoughts of your partner habitually are accompanied by anger, sadness or fear, you are suffering. If you can no longer look to your spouse as a port in the storm, you are probably feeling very lonely and discouraged. This is where a therapist can provide you both with new ways of enriching your marriage and addressing tensions.
The old cliché, “marriage is hard work,” is relevant here. It’s common for couples to hit some periods of discord and discontent. But, if for some time you’ve felt despairing or profoundly lonely, or else at war with your partner, you are suffering. Ongoing marital strife or disconnection affects emotional as well as physical wellbeing. Unhappy marriages affect your physical health too. Studies indicate that couples in unhappy marriages increases the risk for heart disease and other stress-related conditions. On top of that, it’s often difficult to talk about marital problems with friends or family members, this compounding a sense of loneliness and isolation.
But, while Hollywood and fairy tales promote the image of bliss beyond the altar, it actually takes hard work to keep a marriage going strong or to get it back on course. It may be reassuring to learn that two thirds of couples experience a moderate to significant decline in marital satisfaction for the first two years following the birth of a child. The good news is that you can learn from the remaining one third of couples who maintain strong intimacy and effective strategies for managing their conflicts.
I am a Gottman-Certified clinician who works with couples to identify sources of strength from which to build their relationship, to promote more effective ways of communicating, to develop greater connection and intimacy, and to eliminate specific behaviors and interactive styles that are toxic to relationships.
Couples come to me with issues ranging from general concerns such as poor communication, increasing distance, hostility and resentment to more specific issues including infidelity, sexual incompatibility, conflicts around in-laws, parenting and money. I also work with couples looking to strengthen their relationship and address possible challenges as they prepare for marriage or parenthood.
If so many couples argue, why should we consider therapy?
While all couples have perpetual areas of disagreement, couples that are happily married know how to maintain respect, interest and care even when they disagree. Research indicates that, on average, among those seeking counseling, more than 6 years elapse from the time couples first experience difficulties until they seek professional counseling. By then bitterness and hostility or avoidance and distance have become all too familiar and are that much harder to bridge.
Is it ever too late to seek help for our marriage?
Not all marriages survive and some clients do come into therapy together to determine whether they wish to remain a couple. I work with them to discern the pros and cons of remaining in the relationship. It’s not uncommon for one partner to be more motivated to work on the relationship. When that is the case, I work with you to identify what steps the motivated partner might need to take to invite the other back into the relationship. In some instances, I help couples process what failed in their marriage and shift to a non-blaming stance so they can end the relationship with greater mutual compassion and self-knowledge for the future.
My partner won’t agree to couples therapy. What can I do?
It’s common to have a reluctant partner. I can work with you individually to address ways in which you may be contributing to some of the distress in your relationship, to provide you with more constructive approaches to your partner, and to empower you to respond in a more grounded and self-aware manner to challenges your spouse brings to you. In some instances, this alone can result in significant improvement in the relationship. For others, the changes may invite the reluctant partner to become more curious and receptive to entering therapy. Another option is to use the individual therapeutic work to clarify your goals and choices for the relationship.
Why choose your practice?
I have specialized training as a couples therapist and devote nearly half of my practice to this specialty. I am a Certified Gottman Therapist and am a graduate of the Couples Program at the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. The Gottman method is an empirically based approach that has demonstrated great effectiveness in fortifying ailing relationships. In addition to these advanced training certifications, I am also the author of a self-help book for couples: Steering Your Marriage: A Guide to Navigating the Road Together.
In addition, I have trained with Sue Johnson and use some of the approaches of Emotionally Focused Therapy to help couples identify their harmful cycles of interaction and replace them with ones that grow love and connection. The work of Dan Siegel also informs how I work with couples as I am very much focused on helping them shift from protective “me” states to more receptive “we states.
Initially, I provide a thorough assessment of the strengths and challenges present in the relationship. This is partly done through our consultation sessions and through your completion of an extensive questionnaire available via the Gottman Institute. The feedback report I share with you in the subsequent planning session lays the groundwork for the therapy, identifying key areas that need to be better understood and developed, as well as areas of strength within your relationship that you will be encouraged to tap into more often.
Therapy then involves working with the couple to promote greater mutual recognition and respect, to become open to influence, and to learn to distinguish and work with perpetual conflicts while resolving solvable conflicts. In many instances, either one or both members of the couple benefits from identifying when he or she is too overwhelmed by anger or fear to communicate and learns to take some time to self-soothe before engaging with his or her partner. Once we have reduced the element of fear, both partners are better able to feel heard, understood and validated. From there, trust, commitment and intimacy, three of the key ingredient to a strong and lasting relationship, become restored or fortified.
If you still have questions or are ready to give therapy a go, call me at (914) 764-5582 or email me. If I’m not available, I’ll get back to you promptly and we can discuss your particular concerns and questions about therapy and my practice. Following the first appointment, you are welcome to go online and schedule your appointment yourself.