The New York Times’ Well Blog is one of my regular reads because it gives accessible, digestible ways to live life well. This particular entry speaks to me as it briefly explains the benefits of preventive marital counseling, for the same reasons we get dental check-ups and annual physicals. A little investment now protects our health and happiness in the future. It also mentions the benefits of acceptance therapy as an effective tool to build on communication skills. Counseling helps us develop partnership awareness and acceptance of difficult aspects of relationships.
In my practice, it is typically most pressing to get couples ‘speaking the same language.’ Often, couples wait until their toxic communication has deeply eroded their relationship. Getting them back on the same page, or even reading the same book, can be daunting as it requires recognizing and breaking old habits, then forming new ones in partnership. When the couple can speak with each other, not about each other, from their own perspective while digesting what their partner says, they can strengthen their relationship.
When couples recognize triggers that typically lead to a shouting match, they become more aware of the path. It’s a familiar one, one they habitually follow. Acceptance therapy used for couples raises awareness of these patterns and leads to new ways past conflict. They can work together to recognize and accept their feelings, their resentment and rage, rather than continuing to push them down to fester. The purpose is not to succumb to the partner’s behaviors; it’s more about letting go of the fight to change them. Couples learn what they can change and what they cannot. They learn how to improve their relationship moving forward and what they can accept – not dismissing past hurts, and not letting them erode the relationship from the recesses.
By combining communication skills training and elements of acceptance therapy, couples make great progress avoiding, or shedding, the habits that stifle. They develop new habits together to fortify their fun, exciting relationship. Couples with the foresight to start counseling before troublesome habits form and the seeds of resentment are planted can improve the quality of their current lives. They avoid mistakes in the future that may deteriorate their relationships. Those couples that wait until their relationship is unraveling have a tougher road ahead; at the same time, with some hope and optimism, they often end up saying ‘I wish I knew how to say that years ago.’
Be sure to check out some of the resources and links on the Well Blog linked here. Call me if you’re interested in learning more about pre-marital counseling, couples counseling, communication skills training and conflict resolution in Denver. You can find me at LeBauerCounseling.com or 720-468-0676.