Most long-term relationships and marriages include periods of stress and strain when partners feel unhappy, dissatisfied, ‘not heard’ and/or ‘not seen’ with each other. Sometimes a family crisis can be the trigger of strains such as: demands of a job that can make one feel overworked, feeling unbalanced with oneself and partner; unemployment; debt; financial insecurity; infidelity; illness; death; even the birth of a baby or purchase of a home, can present unexpected psychological and physical demands that can leave you or your spouse/ partner feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, unappreciated, misunderstood, unloved. Often couples have trouble communicating to their partner their needs, feelings and question the degree of their ‘fit’.
Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy pays attention to the dynamic created between two partners. The focus is on the relationship and developing a ‘couple state of mind’. Learning to listen and accept without the wish to change the other are the beginning steps of resolving conflicts within a relationship. The importance of autonomy and togetherness, respect for separateness and difference are explored deeply. How you make decisions individually and as a couple will be something asked and thought about. Exploring how couples problem solve, resolve conflict, re-negotiate, how they cope with disappointment, frustration and loss or not are important elements of this kind of work. Often couples feel alone in their relationship and fend for themselves and have lost or never found the way to mutually support each other through difficult times. The goal of couple therapy is to modify or eliminate psychological roadblocks so partners can feel satisfaction of their individual and mutual needs for closeness and intimacy. Introducing the idea of a ‘couple mindset’, imagining what kind of a couple one is and what one would imagine they would like to be is a beginning to the work of therapy.
Couple Therapy in NYC has found quite a following with many couples and families seeking help with relationships. Our early attachments, history and losses help us understand problems inherent in intimacy and relating which can be eye opening. When faced with an imagined or real threat in a relationship, children learn how to establish a way of behaving and a pattern develops over time. These internal models of the past, act like templates of relationships that influence how an individual behaves when tension leads to anxiety , distress, frustration or even excitement. Some of the kinds of questions and ideas a couple therapist might think about are: Is there a space to think about difficult feelings and states of mind with oneself and one’s partner? Is it possible to talk about one’s fears in oneself and the other without leading to anger, disappointment, resentment ? Or withdrawal? When a therapist is aware of early attachment and developmental issues, and has the capacity to listen, he/she can provide an environment where partners can be helped to develop new insight into the source of their emotional reactions.
This approach helps identify emotions that lead to conflict, revive old hurts, cause disappointment, and steal hope—feelings, states of mind that reach up from childhood to undermine the current relationship. Often partners look for another to fulfill wishes they might not realize they have, repair losses of the past, or search for parental or sibling remnants in their partners.
To learn to accept one’s partner for who they actually are can bring people closer together. This allows for the opportunity to enjoy a deeper, richer and more secure bond which enhances the life of the couple and family. I work with couples who plan on living together; pre-marital therapy; marital therapy, inter-faith couples same sex couples, divorced couples on Co-Parenting and Parent Guidance.