Modern marriage has come a long way from the age of dowries, trousseaus, exchange of lands, and “till death do you part.” Modern marriage doesn’t have to be exclusively between a man or a woman but can embrace marriage between two men, two women and more broadly can join any two people who want to become married, either legally or civilly in a recognized committed relationship.
Historical marriages were role defined and gender defined, as well as religiously and culturally defined. No longer. Modern relationships might look very different but certain issues remain constant when a couple decides to seek relationship therapy.
Couples may have problems with:
- Communication patterns
- Conflict resolution
- Physical and emotional intimacy
- Financial and money management
Too often couples seek help when problems have reached a breaking point, leading to considerations of divorce, separation, or infidelity. Advice from family and friends can cloud the ability for the parties to navigate the relationship individually or together.
What is Relationship Therapy?
In relationship therapy, the couple is the client. This means that the therapist should or will take a complete history from both parties in order to understand what issues are interfering with the current relationship. This information might include:
- Family of origin patterns of communication and models for marriage
- Physical and mental health history
- Relationship history (including previous marriages and children)
Though marriage and family therapists have specific training in marital or couples counseling, other licensed disciplines with specific training and interest in couples work are competent to work with couples.
Is Relationship Therapy Right for You?
Finding a good fit is most important for both parties. The therapist must be able to engage both parties equally so that the therapeutic environment feels safe, neutral, and non-judgmental.
Therapists might have additional schooling in the areas of sexual health, Gottman Institute techniques, Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT), and Discernment Counseling (when one partner is not completely committed to the relationship).
Take the time to interview the therapist so that both parties are comfortable. The clinician who sits in the room with you will hear and help you navigate the most sensitive, intimate moments of your relationship—past and present. When I was seeing more couples in my practice, I would often hear them say that the work they did in therapy was some of the most difficult yet the most rewarding. I still remember a couple I worked with in Pennsylvania years ago. They pursued therapy because of infidelity and had worked with me for months untangling past patterns.
During their last session, the wife said: “I don’t like how we got here, but I have to say that our marriage is in the best shape it has ever been.”
Find a Relationship Therapist Near You
If you’re feeling disconnected, frustrated, or worried about your relationship health, contact the Calli Institute to meet with one of our clinicians. We’ll work with you to find solutions to the problems you’re struggling with or work to enhance the strengths already in your relationship. You have the ability and strength to take a chance on making things different for you and your partner.
About the Author:
Cathy Malmon is a licensed independent clinical social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and co-owner of the Calli Institute. Learn more about Cathy and our team of mental health professionals or browse through our mental health support services to find out how we can help you.