Have You and Your Partner Lost Your Footing?

Is your relationship with your partner in distress? Is the safety and security you’ve always taken for granted with your partner now in question? Are you worried your relationship may be in peril if you don’t do something to change your dynamic?

couples therapy: partner complaining to couples therapist about their partner

If you’ve lost connection with your partner, you’re probably feeling isolated because they were your closest confidante. As humans, we’re wired to need a few significant others to have our back when the going gets rough. Many of us choose a life partner to be that significant other. If your partner is no longer there for you, you may be feeling lonely and insecure, or perhaps even angry, about your future together.

Perhaps you’re both stretched thin in your day-to-day lives. No wonder you’re stressed when you’re together. Your communication has become fraught and tense. Perhaps you’ve tried to hide the tension, but your good friend, or your children, have noticed and commented.

You’ve probably noticed the two of you are fighting more frequently or more intensely. Alternatively, there may be a distance between you that you’re unsure how to bridge. You fluctuate between hostility and uncomfortable silence.

Maybe the relationship is off balance and there’s a lack of equal partnership. Instead of a safe haven where you feel nourished and recharged by your partner, you’re feeling weighed down and depleted.

It may seem your relationship is buckling under the strain of how to manage challenges like infertility, illness, job loss, or lack of family support. Or perhaps alcohol, drugs, excessive shopping, or Facebook use is contributing to discord in your relationship.

Has there been infidelity (whether it be physical, emotional, or online)? Has porn use presented problems with intimacy?

Fortunately, couples therapy can be invaluable for helping you find the path back to each other.

The Demands Facing Modern Couples Create Stress For Relationships

While the statistics about divorce have never been great (it’s estimated that 38 percent of all marriages in Canada end in divorce, and this percentage doesn’t include cohabitating spouses), the heightened stress caused by the pandemic has led to a further spike in break-ups and dissolutions.

Two-career families, commutes, parenting, lack of support because families are far away—the demands are endless.

To compound things, we place huge expectations on our relationships. As modern couples we expect partners to be excellent co-parents, expert cooks, domestic gurus, financially successful economic partners, wonderful companions, great lovers, and so on. It’s not surprising we buckle under the pressure.

In particular, transitional periods place stress on our relationships. Many couples point to the arrival of children as the time when they began to drift apart.

Conversely, the transition to the empty nest is also difficult for many couples. The focus shifts away from the children and back on one another, which make the cracks that formed over the years glaringly obvious.

Moving from the world of work into retirement can also be a time when relationships begin to unravel. We lose the security of our former work routine. Our career gave us an identity that retirement doesn’t as easily provide.

Many of us minimize the extent of the issues, hoping that somehow our relationships will get better over time. Or, wee make attempts to improve things by reading a relationship book or sign on to an internet course about relationships. We might ask for advice from a friend or family member or spiritual guide. Perhaps we try date nights or a couples vacation—all to no avail.

To restore connection, perhaps it’s time to look outside of the relationship for professional help.

If you’ve resolved you don’t want your relationship to be over, but you want it to be better, then it’s time to consider couples therapy. Talking together is not a pipe dream. It’s possible to have a friendship with your partner and enjoy being together again.

What To Expect From Couples Therapy

As experienced couples therapists, we recognize the challenges couples can face in their relationship and we know how to help. With our professional support, couples therapy sessions are dedicated times for you and your partner to focus on improving your relationship.

relationship challenges can be resolved

At the first session together, you get the opportunity to share your relationship history with your therapist. Each of you can talk about the reasons you have for seeking couples counselling and your hopes and goals for therapy.

Generally, the first three or four sessions can be thought of as assessment sessions. You’ll assess the therapist to determine if the therapist will be helpful to you. In turn, your therapist will also be gathering information that will help in determining the direction forward.

Most often the first one or two sessions are joint sessions. Your therapist will then meet with each of you individually for a session.

Repetitive communication patterns keep partners stuck. During our sessions, we will slow down the conversations you have with each other, consider how your patterns impact one another, and what part each of you plays in your established dynamic. In time, you will come to appreciate how over the years you’ve been caught in a “dance of disconnection” with your partner that has become a habit neither of you can break.

Realizing that your partner’s steps are in reaction to your steps, and your steps, in turn, impact your partner is a breakthrough that will change everything between the two of you. Once your particular negative pattern is clear, it’s possible to learn and practice new steps that will lead to a “dance of connection.”

The model of therapy we use, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), has been subject to more than 30 years of research. “Developed in tandem with the science of adult attachment,… the EFT model prioritizes emotion and emotional regulation as the key organizing agents in individual experience and key relationship interactions.”

Each of our therapists has had at least ten years of post-graduate school experience in the field of mental health and we make our best efforts to match you to the therapist best suited to your needs. Our therapists are committed to creating a safe space for you and your partner so you can express yourselves without fear of judgment.

Life is hard enough—your relationship shouldn’t be. And when you take the time to do something about it, it doesn’t have to be. Couples therapy can break the negative patterns that have formed over time and restore the love and connection in your relationship

But You May Still be Wondering Whether Couples Therapy is Right for You…

What if my partner refuses to attend couples therapy?

It’s common for one partner to feel uncertain about seeing a couples therapist. It’s usually one partner’s idea and that person can have a hard time convincing the other it’s worth trying.

Let your partner know there is no commitment; all you’re asking for is one or two counselling sessions to give it a chance. You can assure your partner your therapist is a professional whose job is to be balanced, so there’s no risk your partner will feel ganged up on or blamed for causing the problems.

It’s embarrassing to talk about these personal things with someone else.

Taking the step to talk to a couples therapist illustrates your commitment to your life partner. You are not alone. It is hard to admit you have a problem and then take the steps to address it.

Congratulations to you for even considering this big and, potentially, embarrassing step. Sometimes it helps to compare couples counselling to going to a dentist when you have a toothache. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary to get over the toothache. Or you might consider couples counselling like the expert at the bike shop who helps you get your bike back to being rideable.

Isn’t seeing a couples counsellor expensive?

No one wants to spend money on couples therapy—of course; you’d rather go on a winter vacation or renovate your backyard. But there is a long-term financial benefit of getting treatment and resolving conflict with your partner.

Divorce is very costly. Can you afford not to seek couples therapy? Working to improve the relationship with your partner is one of the most worthwhile investments you’ll ever make. After all, wouldn’t you ultimately like to share that vacation or backyard with your partner?