COUPLE'S COUNSELING AUSTIN, TX
Why do we hurt the ones we love?
Simply put, because the very nature of intimacy is to be vulnerable. Our partner knows our weaknesses, our foibles and frustrations, as we know theirs. This gives us enormous power over each other. Whether or not we choose to exercise that power can be the difference between traveling a path of comfort, support and happiness or negotiating a minefield of conflict and abuse.
Let me emphasize that a healthy relationship is a path, not a destination. Having a healthy and satisfying relationship is something that requires mindfulness, intention and skills. And, like the way to Carnegie Hall, it takes practice, practice, practice!
So what are some ways that intimate partners abuse their power?
- by “testing” the other
- by not taking responsibility for bad acts
- by refusing to acknowledge that their choices impact their partner
- by blaming, judging and accusing
- by giving ultimatums
- by shutting down
- by resorting to physical, verbal or emotional abuse
If any of these abuses of power are occurring frequently or occasionally in your relationship, intimacy is on the decrease and suffering is on the increase. I advise you to seek assistance to interrupt these destructive patterns. If these abuses occur habitually, your relationship is in serious jeopardy, according to relationship experts, and I advise you to contact someone for assistance immediately.
The hurt that partner’s inflict on each other is not always intentional. Very often, intimate partners get into conflicts, hurt each other’s feelings and create distance without even realizing how it got that way. Frustration, impatience and disconnection seem to crop up for no apparent reason, or at the drop of a hat. These couples are “doing their dance.” They have, over the years, created familiar patterns in how they communicate and interact with each other that, unfortunately, have become ineffective at best and hurtful at worst. The couple keeps getting “stuck”:
- They seem to keep having the same argument over and over again.
- There is dread by one or both partners about certain topics.
- There are certain topics they don’t even talk about any more.
- There is dread by one or both partners of certain situations.
- The couple avoids social situations or activities that have led to conflict in the past.
- The couple talks “at” rather than “to” each other.
- One or both partners gets “triggered” by certain words, facial expressions, tones of
Can this relationship be saved?
I’m glad you asked. Yes, it is possible to “save” a relationship that is in trouble. It depends on how willing both people are to work at it. The operative word, of course, is work. It is not easy work. It requires each partner to turn the focus of their frustration and disappointment inward, toward themselves,rather than toward their partner. Each partner must be willing to look at how he or she contributes to the problem. That is the only way to begin to become “unstuck.” The work also involves being willing to “unlearn” the steps of the dance that they have been doing and acquire new skills and habits. Those new skills and habits must be attended to every day because the real work of couple’s counseling does not occur in session, but between sessions. And please understand, there is no guarantee that any relationship can be “saved.”
Intimacy is an act of courage. Intimacy needs trust in order to grow. More than anything, couple’s therapy requires courage and trust, and the willingness to nurture them. My job as a therapist is to offer a safe environment for couples to explore the discord and the distance between them. I also think it is important to point out to couples what they are doing well so they can do more of it. If you are looking for someone to decide who is “right” and who is “wrong”, I’m not your girl. Criticism, blame and judgment only cripple intimacy and destroy trust.
My experience includes seven years doing relationship work, much of which has involved high conflict and abuse. I have worked with all kinds of relationship abuse: physical, verbal, emotional, economic, legal, etc. My training and experience have informed me as to what works for couples and I emphasize those skills and principles. I’d be happy to talk with you about whether I could be a good “fit” for you and your partner in couple’s therapy. Please contact me by phone or email:
Are you in an abusive relationship?