Most people come to couples therapy with good intentions. Sadly though, they often still fall into the usual traps of marriage counseling and set themselves up for failure. Bickering, interrupting, contempt, resentment and so on. So how do you avoid all this nonsense?
When I see couples communicating poorly in my office, I see a window into how they interact at home. These communication strategies are flawed and ineffective and often deeply ingrained into the fabric of their relationship.
A well-trained couples therapist understands each person is trying to get their needs met. They understand the resentful, contemptuous, and painful communication patterns are only a starting point. These dynamics offer valuable information AND an opportunity to teach the couple a better way to engage and connect with each other.
John Gottman, PhD, the prominent figure in the field of marital research, has observed couples relate to each other for over 30 years. His research taught him how to predict (with over 90% accuracy) which marriages will last, and which will end in divorce. He’s able to do this just by observing how the couple interact with each other.
Through his research, Gottman identified behaviors in healthy relationships that result in happy and successful marriages. Additionally, he (and his wife Julie) identified the unhealthy patterns of conflicted, disillusioned and unhappy couples. Using his research as a blue print, couples learn to relinquish painful, destructive, and ineffective habits while building a strong, marital friendship.
Couples therapy can give you a second chance to have the marriage you always wanted.
But you have to work at it. And it’s not easy.
So why do so many fail in couples therapy?
So with all this valuable research at the tip of every couples therapist’s hands, why do so many couples fail in therapy? Well, it’s not always the fault of the therapist. Sometimes it is – but not usually. After a decade of working with couples, here are 11 of the most common reasons couples fail in therapy.