Marriage Counseling with EFT Offers Couples Greater Hope
Sure, you and your spouse have wondered about seeking marriage counseling -- but there's doubt whether counseling can make a difference.
You may be feeling hopeless. Or fearing your marriage is beyond repair. One or both of you may have wondered — or even mentioned — separation or divorce as the only solution to end the pain and sadness that has overtaken your relationship.
However, advances in marriage counseling are helping many couples recapture the joy, security and all-important emotional connection you created when you first fell in love.
- How Science Brings New Possibilities for Couples
- Old, Outdated Marriage Counseling vs. Today’s Most Successful Approach
- Rebuilding Your Attachment to Each Other
- How Do Couples Actually Change Their Relationship
- A New Openness Emerges
- Repairing Old Wounds
- Navigating Life Transitions Together
- Making the Phone Call
How Science Brings New Possibilities for CouplesEmotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) helps couples quickly understand how they have become disconnected and how to reduce arguing (or becoming more distant) when a disagreement does take place. Couples learn to understand themselves and their partner on a deeper, more meaningful level so they can work toward rebuilding and maintaining a close, loving connection.
Emotionally Focused Therapy offers couples an approach that is:
- Brief, compared with other counseling methods
- Lasting. This proven approach has a lower rate of relapse for couples who complete the marriage counseling process.
- Based on solid theory providing a strong foundation of science and on the results of continuing research studies
Old, Outdated Marriage Counseling vs. Today's Most Successful Approach
“Old” marriage counseling often focused on teaching couples how to communicate. We do that, too, in Emotionally Focused Therapy; however, couples learn to communicate from a foundation we’ve created together of greater compassion and understanding of each other.
Teaching only communication skills doesn’t last. And, there’s no scientific research supporting the principle that communication is all that’s needed.
However, the difficulties you may have developed in communication provide us with an initial understanding of the distress you are experiencing in your lives together. So, if you’re calling for help telling me, “We just don’t know how to communicate,” you are on the right track.
Being able to calmly talk and discuss important issues with your spouse is critical to the success of your relationship. However, the path to long-term connection and trust lies deeper. You can learn how to change your pattern of communication to one that is loving and caring — and that gets to the resolution of important concerns.
Rebuilding Your Attachment to Each Other
The distress couples feel often results from a pattern that develops as the result of hurt feelings or hurtful events that were never addressed, understood or resolved.
Even spouses with the best of intentions will, on occasion, be less mindful of their partner’s needs or feelings. Something said, not said; something done or not done; something forgotten. These “wounds” in relationships can linger — and it’s not uncommon for old wounds or hurts to be brought up again and again in the midst of disagreements or arguments.
Yet, because of the strong bond and attachment to each other that was created when you met and fell in love, these hurts can become powerful forces that can drive you further apart.
The resulting negative feelings can lead to arguing and distancing. In Emotionally Focused Therapy, we call the emerging pattern of anger and hurt a “negative cycle.” Small disagreements can result in big arguments. The arguing takes its toll — and couples find they are more disconnected, intimacy often declines, and hopelessness begins to rise.
It’s not uncommon for couples to blame each other for their distance and disagreements. In Emotionally Focused Therapy, we help couples understand that the negative cycle is the true enemy — not each other. In the early sessions of marriage counseling, couples learn to identify their negative cycle and many are able to reduce arguing in a short period of time.
How Do Couples Actually Change Their Relationship?
In marriage counseling, we gently explore the important meanings and beliefs that lie beneath each partner’s emotions. And, we do so without blaming or judging.
Joan and John have one of many “Aha!” moments in their therapy sessions. They learn to discuss this and other issues from a place of calm and of curiosity about each other’s feelings. They are building a new foundation for their relationship.
EFT takes couples to the root of their discord. And, by having those powerful discoveries and experiences in the safety and confidentiality of the therapy office, they can learn to have these same moments on their own for years forward.
They are becoming a team to defeat the enemy of the Negative Cycle!
A New Openness Emerges
With EFT, couples learn in the sessions how to enrich their bond, to change communication patterns and how to discuss and resolve important concerns and differences.
Joan and John (not their real names or circumstances; I am very protective of my clients’ privacy and confidentiality) had been arguing about finances and spending almost since the beginning of their relationship.
In counseling, John turns to Joan and reveals his true feelings: “We were so poor when I grew up. I never asked for anything. My parents argued about money — and it got loud — and scary for me. So, I think that’s why I shut down when we talk about financial stuff.”
Joan softens. This now makes sense to her. The frustration she’s felt from the past begins to melt into empathy and sadness for what her husband had to endure. “I wished I’d known how you felt, and I’m so glad you can tell me now. I’m so sorry for how angry I would become when you wouldn’t talk to me when we’d start to get upset on this subject.”
The deeper feelings begin to change. The emotional regions of their brains now can relax. The eye contact when they talk is a powerful force in deepening their understanding and in reaching each other on the emotional level where change can happen.
Repairing Old Wounds
In your lives together as a couple, hurtful events from even a long time ago can continue to cast a dark shadow on your marriage.
Most common are occasions when one partner felt their spouse was not supportive, attentive or comforting. Times of greater need for support can include a job loss, death of a parent or friend, during an illness or during a difficult time with a child.
Of course, the biggest wound is infidelity. While the majority of couples may choose to stay together after such a discovery, infidelity also is a major contributor to divorce.
EFT provides therapists with a research-supported roadmap for helping couples heal the feelings that linger from both new and older hurtful events.
Again, we avoid blaming while also working to establish a new understanding of the hurt. The healing process works toward apology and forgiveness — and many couples find their connection is strengthened by this important phase of the marriage counseling work.
Making the Phone Call
I’m very aware that seeking counseling, particularly for couples, can feel daunting. I welcome your inquiries, and I offer a no-cost initial phone consultation to answer your questions and to help you see if we are a good fit to work together.