Couples therapy: how can we re-direct the relationship?

Couples therapy is a psychotherapeutic intervention, structured and guided by a specialist in psychiatry or psychology that includes a set of strategies and techniques whose objective is to redirect the love relationship so that it becomes a source of satisfaction and reciprocity.

Its purpose is to help the couple to improve the bond, to unblock, to understand and find solutions to conflicts. In many cases, a brief intervention is enough to prevent the situation from becoming entrenched.

Studies affirm that if you go to a highly trained and experienced professional, no case is regretted and 75% admit that they want to improve communication and agreements with the other. There is an improvement in the relationship, according to data from the Association of Marriage and Family Therapists in the USA.

When is couples therapy necessary?

There are several reasons why couples come to therapy. The most frequent are when:

  • They want to improve communication and agreements with each other.
  • Negativity and discomfort have increased.
  • The spark in the relationship has been extinguished.
  • They need to decide whether to continue together or separate.
  • They need to resolve conflicts or crises that are difficult to overcome: arguments or reproaches, wounds that do not heal, lack of trust, infidelity, interference from third parties, changes in the life cycle, birth of children, bereavement…

Making the decision to go to therapy is not easy because it means admitting that expectations are not being met. Most couples wait an average of five to six years. However, it is not necessary to wait to consider that there is no way out or that there is a deep deterioration of the relationship, accumulating tension, frustration and resentment. Therapy is more effective if you go to it at the beginning, when the problems and the situation have not become too serious. Just as we go to the doctor when we have a problem, we can consult a specialist if we feel that we do not understand each other or our partner is not functioning well.

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Most of the time the responsibility for the problem lies with both parties, but so does the solution. If one of them does not have the motivation to go, he/she cannot be forced and the other can do it. It is not uncommon to start therapy with one of the two and that the other member joins in when he/she perceives the changes.

How is couples therapy carried out?

The sessions usually last approximately 50 minutes every one or two weeks and once the established objectives have been achieved, they can be spaced out. Usually joint sessions are combined with some individual sessions, as needed to achieve greater effectiveness.

The duration is usually a few months, but it depends on the presenting problem. Sometimes it is enough to put things in place in a couple of sessions and sometimes a deeper therapy is necessary.

It is also essential to keep in mind that the success of the therapy is proportional to the degree of involvement and the desire to make an effort and bet on the relationship, that is to say, of the constructive and practical attitude, understanding the role that each one plays in the conflict. It is important to understand that forcing the other to change unilaterally usually leads to greater blockage and frustration. On the other hand, valuing differences and accepting them improves understanding and intimacy, also favoring the balance between change and acceptance.

Guidelines and advice that the couple can follow on a day-to-day basis

The key is to love reality, not an ideal. As well as maintaining a good level of autonomy, tolerating and respecting differences, understanding that love requires commitment, respect and compassion, and trying to make the relationship easy and not getting caught up in conflicts.

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It is also necessary to: put ourselves in the other person’s place and wish for him/her to be happy; value the other person taking him/her as a gift and thanking him/her for it; worry more about being a good partner, knowing ourselves and not projecting on the other person our frustrations, fears, etc.; understand and regulate our own emotions and expect our partner to solve our own pending issues is asking too much of him/her.