It is perfectly normal to experience frustration with romantic partners. If you don't, you might be a robot.
While experiencing anger, sadness, hopelessness, irritability or withdrawal in relationships is normal and at times expected, it's how you handle these reactions that determines if the relationship will succeed or fail (success is much more than simply being together for the sake of it). Luckily, concrete and highly effective tools in relationship science now exist to assist us with understanding and enjoying relationships more fully and with purpose-- an investment that can reduce stress, provide clarity and improve overall mental and physical health, wellbeing and satisfaction.
Relationship Issues Addressed:
Issues of trust or betrayal
Depression or anxiety and relationships
Life transitions (school/career, relocating, buying a home, having children, children developmental changes affecting relationship, death and grief, empty-nesting)
Negotiating areas of conflict (stress, finances, housework, sex, electronic distractions, porn, relationships with in-laws)
Pre-marital counseling/ Contemplating commitment
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning identities in relationships
Family, cultural or religious identities in relationships
Discernment counseling / Ambivalence therapy: determining whether your problems can be solved and whether you want to try
Breaking up/Divorce: Conscious uncoupling (requires a desire from both parties to process and heal emotional injuries from the relationship, often when children are involved)
Recovering from emotional or physical infidelity
Deciding on polyamory
Negotiating parenting styles
Merging a blended family
Planning a "no regrets" lifestyle to help your relationship thrive
Creating rituals of connection
Supporting each others' life dreams
What to expect:
I typically start the couple therapy process by assessing the relationship during the first two sessions. This saves us lots of time. During assessment, I meet with the couple and get an idea of shared and individual goals for the relationship. I will then meet briefly with each individual to create a space for them to speak with me one-on-one about where they may feel stuck, and to learn about family history. I sometimes may observe a typical disagreement between the couple to see what this is like at home, and ask about attempted solutions to identified issues.
Next, we collaboratively devise a treatment plan where we review the strengths in the relationship and also the areas of needed improvement. I will provide valuable information about research findings on highly satisfied versus unsatisfied couples and families, and how these relate to your relationship. With your input along each step of the way, we come up with a plan to address each party's needs, goals and desires for the relationship.
I will offer suggestions for clients to notice or approach the relationship differently in between sessions, often giving something new to practice. The purpose of this is to begin a mindful awareness that assists with the change process. I also will provide you exercises in session to begin practicing new communication or behaviors to your relationship. We will explore how you learned to do things growing up or in past relationships, and how these automated thoughts and reactions may be impacting your current relationship. From my experience each individual has a valid subjective reality to be heard and understood more deeply. We work on what each individual can control about their role in order to get what they need, go over techniques for resolving conflict and strengthening your bond, and I will ask that you put in the work to improve your relationship satisfaction, and be willing to step out of your comfort zone. My goal is not only to disarm conflict and get relationships back to a healthy level of functioning, but also toward a strong, satisfying and meaningful way of relating to each other in the future.
(Note: Couple therapy is not recommended for those experiencing persistent characterological physical or emotional abuse. For these concerns, individual therapy is recommended and I am happy to provide referrals for help in these areas. If you feel your life is in immediate danger, please do not wait to see a therapist and instead call 911. I do not offer services to couples experiencing pervasive substance addictions and am happy to provide referrals for this as well.)