Relationship Challenges

Money, sex and the children. I have seen many couples in therapy over the 14 years I have worked as a Marriage & Family Therapist. I have found that many couples have problems on the surface and they need to address the problems underneath the surface. After being in a relationship it's easy to pick on your partner's faults and blame one another if the relationship is going south. 

Over the past five years I have been trained in and using The Gottman Method for Couples. This is a well researched method. The Gottman's have done over four decades of research in working with couples. They have developed a lot of great tools for couples to help with communication and building the friendship in the relationship. Which, by the way, the research has found that a good friendship is crucial in a relationship. This is reported by, both men and women.

One of my favorite tools that they have that helps with communication is Dreams within Conflict. This helps the couple have a guided conversation that helps build understanding in the relationship. One person is the speaker and one is the listener. The speaker is the dream speaker and the listener is the dream catcher. It's easy to want to fix or solve the problem. The purpose of this exercise is not to argue for your point of view, the point is to build understanding. The research has found that 69% of problems in a relationship aren't solvable. What does this mean, you want to learn to have a dialogue about your problems that isn't painful.

As I mentioned earlier, stop fighting about money, sex and the children. These are the problems on the surface. Start to create understanding in the relationship. Couples that understand one another are more likely to stay together and have a reasonably happy relationship. This is what we all want. This will also let you know that your partner has your back no matter what. Here are three things that are underneath the surface fight:

  1. You don't really get me. More than anything, we want our partner to get us. This is core in a relationship. Tell your partner what you appreciate and like about them. This will help create safety in the relationship and make it easier to talk about the difficult stuff.
  2. You don't accept influence from me. The research has found it's important to accept influence from your partner and be open to their ideas. In a relationship you need to make sacrifices for the relationship.
  3. You think you are always right. This happens when you don't make compromises. When you don't compromise in a relationship you create the I win/we lose scenario and you want the we/we win scenario. Compromise is something you always do in a relationship. I'm not suggesting that you keep score. You also can't put a cap on compromise. Relationships are work, ask anyone that has been married for 50 years. It wasn't always easy but they found a way to make it work.
The truth is relationships are work. All relationships go through seasons. If you hang in there, it will pay off. One of the greatest rewards as a therapist is watching a couple work hard at their relationship, and see the pay off.

Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She has been trained to use The Gottman Method for Couples. For more help please visit, www.LessonsforLove.com.

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Lianne Avila, MFT
1510 Fashion Island Blvd.
Suite 110
San Mateo, CA 94404

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