couple therapy

Conflict Resolution: The Most Powerful Way to Resolve Conflicts in Relationships

Taking responsibility for your words and or actions is one of the most important steps in resolving conflicts in relationships. 

Have you ever found yourself disagreeing with your spouse over how the pillows were placed on your couch, only to find yourselves in a heated argument?  Learning to communicate clearly and effectively is such a crucial skill for couples to have in order to build or to maintain a healthy relationship.  Most of us fail to take this important step because we are often too busy defending our point of views or our behaviors.  We focus mainly on our motives versus listening to how our spouse experiencing our behaviors. Instead of resolving the conflict, you both end up feeling not heard, distant, angry or resentful. 

Here are 5 steps to help you learn to take responsibility for your behavior during a conflict. 

Step 1: Ask your spouse to describe how they received your message (words/behavior) and how it made them feel.

Step 2: Take ownership for YOUR behavior and apologize.    

Step 3: Clarify your message.  At times you may have to restate your message if the receiver misunderstood.

Step 4: Allow the listener to paraphrase your message in their own words so that you can ensure that he or she clearly understands the second time around. 

Step 5: Be honest.  At times, the receiver might simply be hurt from hearing the truth.   However, your responsibility is to tell the truth in love and with kindness. 

Both individuals should take turns practicing the above 5 steps so that each has a chance to express his or her thoughts and feelings. 

 

If you find yourself at an impasse and unable to resolve your conflicts, please feel free to reach out to us for support.  We can be reached at (860) 593-4908 or visit us at TheWellnessStar.com

Nardine Staroverov, LMFT

 

Beautifully Messy Relationships

During a casual conversation with a friend, I was asked if I tend to see “pretty messed up relationships” in my practice.  I quickly replied that I believe that we are all a mess to some extent to which he agreed with a nod and laughed hysterically. 

You might be asking yourself, what is her thought process?  Well, I believe that most of us are not born knowing how to have a healthy relationship. It's trial and error for all of us. One of the reasons that I love couples work is the fact that it can be simultaneously beautiful and messy. When you have two people from two different families, different upbringing, different cultures, you are bound to have struggles.  However, it can also be a beautiful experience as you allow yourselves to go through the process of self-discovery with your partner.  You will begin to see you deep values when those core values are either challenged for violated.  You will be able to decide which values and beliefs you want to hold on to or discard in the context of a relationship.  For a relationship to thrive, each person has to walk into the relationship with the understanding that it's going to take work. 

What does "work" mean?

Work is being able to put an effort at understanding your partner’s background, their preferences, values and expectations. This does not mean that their values and expectations are more important than yours, it simply gives the both of you a template at understanding each other's thought patterns and why you act and think the way you do. If you are able to achieve this first step, this knowledge will enable you to move forward in your relationship and utilize it to learn how to compromise while taking each other’s difference into account and form your unique relationship. 

Now let's get back to the beautiful and messy parts. As couples we have very deep ingrained way of thinking and doing. If we are not intentionally communicating and expressing our needs, it's easy to get resentful and off track because we are sometimes unaware of these subconscious expectations that can poison our way of looking at our spouses. The same reasons why we fell in love with our spouses in the first place can become a stumbling block when we stop appreciating and being thankful for the little things. When you become close to someone, you will see him or her at his or her worst and best, especially our spouses. This is why infidelity is so prevalent because we can often think that the grass is greener on the other side but that's a conversation for another time. 

When my husband and I were engaged, we went through premarital counseling and it was exciting.  Reason why is because the concept of marriage was all theory at that point.  We had not lived it out yet. At the time, we were thinking about our wedding, dreaming of buying a home together and having children (all the fun stuff).  We were not thinking about our different views on parenting, or the type of boundaries we would have to set for our parents around our relationship. But once we got married, things got real very quickly. We began seeing some of our personality differences. Were they reasons to not have a good relationship? No, but if we were not willing to address those issues and talk through our expectations, our previous ways of doing things,  it could certainly have hurt our marriage.

As I counsel more and more couples and even reflecting on my own relationship, I realized that it’s the little things that often hurts our marriages; the lack of appreciation; not feeling heard or valued; the lack of quality time. The more we understand ourselves and our spouses and being able to communicate and manage our expectations, the more fulfilling and emotionally connected the relationship will become. However, it takes intentionality to prioritize our marriages. 

Our relationship can provide an opportunity for individual growth and a space for the messiest and most beautiful connection ever. If you find yourself in need of a “tune up” in your relationship, please feel free to contact Nardine at TheWellnessStar.Com

 

Nardine Staroverov, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

The Wellness Star Counseling Services                                                                                                                               

 

How To Get The Most Out Of Couples Therapy

Many couples engage in couples counseling not knowing what to expect.  Some might come in with the hope of improving their communication or conflict resolution skills, however, most couples expect their significant other to do most of the work. 

According to relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help.   Research has also shown that factors such as client’s attitude, beliefs and fears are key elements in predicting success in couples counseling.   Therefore, it is important to understand that it will take commitment and an understanding of the process of counseling in order to experience change.

If you desire to have success in couples counseling, here are three components that will most likely ensure success. 

1. Ability to Listen and be Humble

Counseling provide both you and your significant other a safe environment and a neutral zone to be open and honest.  The goal is to practice openness in order to allow yourself to be vulnerable with your partner by sharing those feelings and thoughts that might otherwise be masked by anger, frustration or sarcasm.  This will likely create empathy and compassion in your partner. 

If you are the listener, you may have heard your partner’s requests or feelings in regards to your relationship issues about a hundred times.  However, CHOOSE to listen and do so without interrupting.  Practicing the simple skill of listening can promote trust and improve healthy communication. 

2.  Willingness to accept responsibility and Change

Often times, couples engage in therapy with the hope of “fixing” their partner.  Unfortunately, this approach only perpetuates the problem.  Instead, focus on your own personal growth.  Identify the areas in your life that would be problematic in any relationship and accept responsibility for your own behaviors within the relationship that has contributed to the problem.  Sometimes, relationships are like mirrors, they can reflect areas in our characters that are in need of change.  Focus on your own growth.  If both partners are focused on being self-aware and taking responsibility for their actions, there is a higher chance of success in counseling and in couple satisfaction. 

In addition, some couples might also expect their counselor to “fix” their relationship within 3-4 sessions.  It is important to understand that some of the negative patterns of interactions and resentment in your relationship were build over time.  Which means, it will take time to learn how to resolve your differences in effective ways.  The role of your counselor is to provide a safe environment and help you and your partner understand your unique contribution to the problems in the relationship and provide you with the tools to work through those problems.  Both you and your partner have to be willing to put the work into your relationship in order to have success.

3.  Prioritize Couples Counseling.

In order for couples counseling to be successful, couples must set aside time to prioritize their relationship both in and out of session.  It is important to plan ahead.  If you have young children, it is important to find childcare in order to attend your sessions consistently.   It is also important for couples to set aside time outside of their weekly sessions to connect in order to build on the skills that they are learning.

In addition, the following article can also help you further understand marriage counseling

If you have tried to work out your differences with little to no success, therapy might be your last resort.  If so, why not give it all you got?  Couple counseling can be a great tool when you feel stuck.  If you are looking for a couple therapist or marriage counselor, let’s connect (860) 593-4908 and see if I am a good fit for the both of you. 

 

Nardine Starovererov, LMFT

The Wellness Star Counseling Services

The WellnessStar.com