Category: Marriage Counseling in Boca Raton

Couple sitting up in bed, arguing

Three Healthy Steps for Taking Care of a Relationship

Relationships come with their fair share of ups and downs. Love can bring out the best and worst in all of us. While we may love someone, we may not always get along with them. The occasional fight within a relationship is normal and can even be healthy, but there’s a difference disagreeing every so often and having an overall insecure relationship. Relationship insecurity can lead to a lot of turmoil for both partners.

How to Care for a Relationship

Entering and maintaining a close relationship is not unlike caring for a new apartment. Our first assessments are based on what we can easily see. Appearances and first impressions may guide us to our choice to enter a relationship much like they might guide our choice to rent an apartment. However, the next step that frequently accompanies buying a home or even renting is to take a closer inspection. This inspection can reveal some of the more unsightly problems brewing just beneath the surface. “Those beautifully painted walls, it turns out, cover up a large and ominous looking crack. You thought the basement was a great place to make into a media room, but then the inspector reveals that there’s evidence of a mouse infestation. Those windows don’t open and close properly, and under the floors there appears to have been water damage.” says Dr. Susan Whitbourne, professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts.

Learning all of the flaws, cracks and crevices in one’s new home can be maddening and disappointing all at once, not unlike learning to spot the flaws in one’s relationships. But it’s all a part of the process. Whether in homeownership or in love, things may not always be what they seem. Forging a good relationship goes beyond just physical attraction. Just as with homes, when it comes to people, expectations may not always meet reality. In response to this, Dr. Whitbourne says “it’s natural to want to walk or run in the other direction. However, if it’s too late to break things off, or you care enough about the person to repair some of the damage, you need a way to fix what’s fixable.”

Thankfully, when it comes to relationships, there is more that we can do to fix the fixable. Psychologist Brian Doss and his colleagues from the University of Miami found that they can use a web-based tool designed to help alleviate relationship distress for couples that would otherwise be in trouble. Another great way to help couples in need is through couples therapy, they note. But their program serves as an alternative to those who prefer internet-based individual therapies. To prove the successfulness of this program, the team conducted a controlled study.

What is IBCT?

According to Dr. Whitbourne, “The type of couples therapy that seems to work best, and also happens to translate well to a web-based adaptation, involves what is called Integrative Couples Behavioral Therapy (ICBT).” What makes ICBT so effective? The success of this approach is likely due to the three key steps it employs, which are as follows:

1. Observe

Dr. Whitbourne alternatively calls this the “home inspection” phase of this treatment. It requires that the individual look, listen, and pay careful attention. In a relationship, this means putting one’s wishes and hopes aside for a moment, as well as one’s desire to defend their own point of view, to try to maintain an objective viewpoint. This is especially important when examining how each partner contributes to the overall quality of the relationship. Because IVCT is a behavioral approach, the focus of the treatment is on actual behavior, not on imagined behavior.

2. Understand

Once patterns have been observed objectively, the next step is to uncover what is behind them. In IBCT, the key is, as Doss and his colleagues explain, to understand how “differences between partners, hidden emotions, external stressors, and patterns of communication might affect the core problem(s).”

3. Respond

The final step is to address the problem or problems the couple is facing. IBCT teaches individuals better ways to communicate with their partners. This can mean mapping out a better course of behavior for oneself and one’s partner. It may also be helpful to realize that there are some problems are just part of the relationship, says Doss. Dr. Whitbourne adds: “For example, one of you may be an extrovert and the other, more introverted. The extrovert has a tendency to leave the introvert out of social conversations. By learning that it’s necessary to develop a more inclusive social style, the extrovert may help alleviate the introvert’s chronic feeling of being ignored.”

Understanding Love

In essence, this process can help not only bring to light some of the deeper issues within the relationship, but can also help couples learn new ways to address and fix them. In doing so, they can effectively repair their relationship insofar as it can be repaired. Once these steps are taken, we can step back and see what other issues need to be addressed. Then rinse and repeat. Relationships change and evolve over time just like people, so their needs will change. Love means addressing these needs as they arise and not being afraid to acknowledge them in the first place.

Five Things To Know To Keep Your Relationship Alive

As human beings we often find that our lives are structured around relationships. These include our relationships with our families, friends, co-workers, peers, and significant others. For the latter relationship, many of us may expend extra time and energy into not only finding a significant other, but in trying to make the relationship work as well. There are many reasons why some relationships simply don’t work out. Some of the most common issues are incompatibility, trust issues, poor communication, and different priorities, to name a few. However, what many of us may not realize is that certain characteristics we may initially consider positive in a relationship, are actually problems in disguise.

Here are 5 common but surprising reasons relationships fail:

1. Too Compatible

Many of us believe that the key to any successful relationship is compatibility – and this is true! After all, who doesn’t want a like-minded partner with whom one can get along and share common interests with? So where is the problem? Unfortunately, there is such a thing as being “too compatible”, and this usually occurs when the elements of compatibility are based on immature, rather than mature, characteristics possessed by either party. If a couple is similar in the ways in which they are immature, this can lead to problems. For example, two lifestyle abusing and risk-taking persons may facilitate and encourage one another’s self-destructive habits, or two insecure and anxious persons may form a co-dependent relationship or magnify each other’s insecurities.

The key to a successful relationship is to find someone with whom you are not only compatible, but compatible in the sense that you each elicit each other’s more mature tendencies versus the destructive, immature ones. In this way, both similarity-based and “opposites attract” relationships can be successful.

2. Using Sex to Mask Issues

A good, healthy sex life can be a mutually enjoyable aspect of any sexual relationship. As such, sex can be a good way to build intimacy, trust, and reinforce bonds between couples. However, sex can be problematic if it is used as a method of masking or avoiding problems. Some couples may use sex in response to issues or disagreements instead of actually facing the problem itself. In this way, rather than being dealt with, whatever issues the couple may have been dealing with are instead pushed to the background where they are neglected and left to fester.

Unfortunately, many may have the misconception that good sex automatically equals a good relationship. While sexual compatibility can be important, it is not the sole qualifying characteristic in what defines a good relationship. Eventually, if a couple’s sex life becomes less active, the issues which were previously avoided will inevitably rise to the forefront en masse, becoming a much larger problem than they would have likely been before if they had been dealt with individually as they occurred. When this happens, arguments can be explosive and unresolved tension can lead to the dissolution of the relationship.

3. Avoiding Problems to Avoid Arguments

I think we’ve all at some point heard someone proclaim “we never argue!” in regards to their relationship with their partner. In fact, perhaps we are that person. Communication professor and life coach Preston Ni of Psychology Today states: “I’ve been teaching communication and helping people improve relationships for twenty-five years. During this time, I’ve met many highly successful couples (partners in a happy relationship for twenty or more years). Without exception, all of them argue from time to time.” So what does it mean to claim to not argue? Well firstly, conflicts and arguments will not necessarily put a relationship in jeopardy. Successful couples can solve problems as they arise and let them go without attacking one another. Moreover, they have the capacity to learn and grow from these occasional difficulties which then strengthens their relationship with one another.

Conversely, couples who claim to never argue are usually those who are together for a relatively short while, usually five years or less, and who at once claim that their relationship is ideal only to, at a later date, announce that they are no longer together. Why is this? It seems as though if the relationship is not ideal then there’s no relationship at all. The truth is that never arguing does not mean a relationship is without problems, it simply means that whatever problems that may exist are being ignored or pushed away rather than dealt with. Once again, by avoiding problems, you’re really allowing them to accumulate until they become unbearable. This results in a rude awakening, usually in the form of a failed relationship.

4. Being Too Attached

It is natural and healthy to feel a certain attachment to those whom you care about, especially in romantic relationships. However, there comes a point when attachment exceeds normal, healthy boundaries and becomes excessive. Researchers Bartholomew and Horowitz note that there is a style of attachment known as Anxious-Preoccupied that is not conducive to maintaining a healthy relationship. One who is Anxious-Preoccupied may desire to spend as much time as possible with their partner due to the insecurity they experience when alone. Furthermore, these individuals are prone to experiencing negative emotions within the relationship which necessitates constant reassurance to make them feel safe and good about themselves. This can be overwhelming for the partners of those who are Anxious-Preoccupied as they can often give the impression of being too clingy, needy, or possessive. Remember that while attachment is acceptable, over-attachment can be unhealthy. Everyone needs space and the key to being in a successful relationship with another person is to begin with developing a healthy relationship with oneself.

5. Being Too Nice

While kindness is always appreciated, there can be a thing as being too nice in a relationship. This is especially true when one’s kindness and affection is taken for granted by someone who doesn’t demonstrate gratitude or reciprocate. Ni explains: “The economy runs on the law of supply demand: The more something is available in abundance, the less values it has. The same rule applies to the economy of human relations. In the presence of a self-centered and inconsiderate mate, the more a nice person gives thanklessly, the less [they’re] valued.” Thus, it is important for any healthy and successful relationship to know how to set boundaries and to respect them so that kindness may be appreciated but not taken advantage of.

What Can I Expect from Marriage Counseling in Boca Raton

The decision to seek marriage counseling is one that is often made at a stressful and unstable point in our lives.  With that in mind, it is sometimes made hastily without time taken to think about the process of marriage counseling or have a solid understanding of what it entails.  Like most decisions, it is important to come to marriage counseling as informed as possible, with a vision of what you would like to achieve and what you can expect in return.

The process of marriage counseling certainly varies to some degree, based on different approaches and styles from one marriage counselor to another, but several factors remain constant.  The goal of marriage counseling is to help you and your partner work through differences and problems, develop new and effective skills to navigate through difficulties, and to find a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness within the relationship.

At the start of the marriage counseling process, your marriage therapist will assess the current state of your relationship and help you to recognize unhealthy or ineffective patterns and behaviors that are contributing to your presenting issues.  In marriage counseling, your therapist will also work with you to establish the goals you have for treatment.  For example, some couples would like to improve their communication skills while others are looking for greater intimacy.  Whatever your goals for marriage counseling may be, the therapist will work with you to tailor a plan that best suits your needs.

Once the goals have been established and pitfalls are identified, your marriage therapist will work with you and your partner together and, at times, individually, to help you work on the issues that are negatively contributing to your relationship.  They will help you correct negative patterns and behaviors by making you aware of how and when they happen.  They will also teach you new skills and patterns as well as help you enhance the strengths that each of you have to combat problems and increase positive interactions.

Throughout this process of marriage counseling, your therapist will check in with you to assess progress and ensure that everyone is on the same page and happy with the treatment.  Adjustments can be made, as needed based on changing needs within the relationship or by reaching the originally agreed-upon goals and adding new ones. Marriage counseling will come to an end once the couple and therapist have worked together to reach the established goals or once the couple has come to a point where they feel they are ready to move forward on their own.  Often we find that couples will begin to taper off with marriage counseling sessions as they establish their newly defined relationship.

At Proliance Center in Boca Raton, you can expect your marriage counseling experience to follow this pattern closely.  You will work with your counselor in a comfortable and private environment where you can feel safe in expressing your concerns and desires.  You can also expect that you will work with an educated and experienced therapist whose priority is to meet your needs and continually assess your progress and happiness with your experience.  If you have questions about the process of marriage counseling, we invite you to discuss your options with us at anytime by phone or in person!

A male and female interlocking hands in what appears to be a strong, happy relationship.

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