A committed relationship is a game of give and take, hopefully for keeps. The better you know the rules and know how to play, the more fun you will have and the greater your chances of success.

Becoming a "couple" is one of life's greatest gifts. When joined, we experience ourselves differently, quite literally, because it is within the boundaries of an intimate relationship that we make ourselves most vulnerable and learn how to satisfy the needs of another person. The combination of being vulnerable and showing compassion sets the stage for personal growth, meaningfully connection, and satisfying our greatest need—to belong. When a relationship is working, we experience a unique feeling of completion. As if by magic, the power of two makes us feel whole.

The Up-Down Phenomenon

The law of gravity tells us, "What goes up must come down." Relationships are no exception. We all know that there is a downside to relationships. When we choose to be vulnerable and give ourselves to another person, we open ourselves up to frustration, disappointment, resentment, and deep pain. In this way, while relationships can make us feel "on top of the world," they also have the power to plummet us, fast and hard, back to an uncaring reality, where we find ourselves in a million pieces, feeling puzzled and afraid.

The Power of Couples Therapy

When the bottom falls out of a relationship, it causes us to lose our balance in life and stop moving forward. Put another way, troubled relationships make us feel wobbly and insecure. Next, when feelings of being misunderstood and mistreated abound, couples tend to move in two directions. Either couples become silent and distant, hoping that time will heal the pain. Or, couples become angry and loud, believing that hostility, complaining and grumpiness will somehow help the situation. In the long run, neither strategy works very well.

So, what does work?

Couples therapy can strengthen your marriage by helping to provide a safe place where you can find your voice and learn how to become vulnerable and compassionate all over again. Additionally, couples therapy focuses on teaching two sets of skills.

Survival Skills - creating safety, calming down & building trust.

Connection Skills - speaking with meaning, listening to understand, making bids for attention, telling the truth & validating each other.

When these skills are mastered, you'll become more confident and skillful at dealing with those troubling moments that, too often, make intimacy impossible and destroy the very glue that holds people together.