Enriching Your Relationship
Some couples are not experiencing any major problems in the relationship but they just want to enrich and build up their relationship. Here are several areas to explore with your partner.
- Identify the strengths of your relationship.
- Consider hobbies and interests you could pursue together.
- Examine and understand your individual family background and how it influences your relationship.
- Determine what your goals are as a couple.
- Are you both satisfied with your jobs/careers and if not, what are you willing/able to do about it?
- Strengthen your communication skills, especially during conflict.
Some important principles of effective couples therapy
- Change the view of the relationship. Throughout the therapeutic process, the therapist attempts to help both partners see the relationship in a more objective manner. They learn to stop the “blame game” and instead look at what happens to them as a process involving each partner. They also can benefit from seeing that their relationship takes place in a certain context such as individual childhood experiences, current financial situation, developmental stage of the relationship, etc.
- Modify dysfunctional behavior. Effective couples therapists attempt to change the way the partners actually behave with each other. This means that in addition to helping them improve their interactions, therapists also need to ensure that their clients are not engaging in actions that can cause emotional, physical, or economic harm.
- Decrease emotional avoidance. Couples who avoid expressing their private feelings put themselves at greater risk of becoming emotionally distant and eventually grow apart. Effective couples therapists help their clients bring out the emotions and thoughts that they fear expressing to the other person.
- Improve communication. Being able to communicate is one of the “3 C’s” of intimacy. (Communication, Commitment, Compromise). Couples often need help learning how to speak to each other in a supportive and understanding way, especially during conflict! They learn how to listen more actively without accusations. Once couples communicate more effectively, intimacy can be restored.
- Promote strengths. Effective couples therapists point out the strengths in the relationship. Because so much of therapy involves focusing on problem areas, it’s easy to lose sight of the other areas in which couples function effectively. When they acknowledge their strengths, they will hopefully find more joy in the relationship and not fall into despair.
Benson, L.A., McGinn, M.M., & Christensen, A. (2012). Common principles of couple therapy. Behavior Therapy, 43(1), 25-35.