Couples may come to therapy saying that though they once brought out the best in each other they now each feel at their worst when together. Small tensions create battles and big tensions simmer beneath the surface without resolution.
The reasons that bring couples to therapy are diverse but can include arguing and poor communication, parenting stress, infidelity, financial issues, sexual concerns, and distress related to the mental health or substance abuse of one or both partners. Couples may also enter therapy as a last effort to save a relationship or to negotiate terms of a separation or divorce. In any case, it is not unusual for couples in therapy to discover that the source of their discontent is not exactly what they thought. Daily arguments and resentments may draw focus away from issues that are less readily addressed. Couples therapy provides an opportunity to understand one another on a deeper level so that the true source of distress can be identified and worked through.
Why do couples struggle?
All of us have our own methods for managing and communicating anxiety, disappointment, frustration, anger, and fear. These methods often stem from earlier life and can be so deeply ingrained that we barely notice them. Our partners may react positively or negatively to our emotional style depending on the defenses they bring to the relationship. When a partner's methods for managing their own emotions negatively impact the other (and vice versa) the couple may come to feel trapped in a painful pattern of ineffective communication that causes both to feel misunderstood and resentful.
Couples are often relieved to find that they are not incompatible but have inadvertently developed a style of interacting that habitually triggers each partner. Small tensions create battles and big tensions simmer beneath the surface without resolution. Couples may come to therapy saying that though they once brought out the best in each other they now each feel at their worst when together.
Part of couples work usually includes a careful consideration of the relationship templates each partner brings to the partnership. I use an object relations framework when helping couples to identify the assumptions about themselves, their partners and the world and how these play out in the relationship. For more info on this https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-object-relations-therapy-can-help-your-relationship/
While the primary task of couples work is to improve the health of the couple, each member of the couple will come to learn about themselves as individuals and this new awareness typically has positive impacts on other areas of life as well.