Couples Counseling NYC
Making an intimate relationship work is not an easy task. Too often, couples feel frustrated and helpless when their individual concerns clash, and when hurt turns to anger. spiral2grow of New York City provides experienced, supportive, and respectful couples therapists and marriage counselors, who can help you clarify issues and goals, design solutions and work toward achieving them in a gradual way. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven solutions in a variety of formats: individual counseling, couples therapy, marriage therapy and relationship workshops.
Creating an extraordinary relationship takes a commitment to yourself and your partner, a willingness to be a student, and a determination to have the relationship of your dreams. Couples therapy helps identify areas where constructive change may improve couples’ capacity to function better in their relationship. Relationship therapy is not just “getting advice,” but learning how to find and implement new solutions and discover greater freedom to make choices you want and to achieve your relationship goals.
Couples or relationship therapy is perhaps the most difficult type of counseling to practice, facilitate and to be in. As a psychotherapist in my practice in New York City, I have witnessed anger, despair, unshakable cycles and habits, loneliness, contempt, aggressiveness, lack of intimacy and sexuality. Unfortunately, many couples come to me way beyond due date. My approach to couples therapy is interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and out of the box. With my unique talent to quickly and profoundly get to the heart of the issue, I understands the broad spectrum of relationships, couple dynamics, and sexuality, while able to provide effective intervention and long lasting change.
Couples therapy and marriage therapy helps solve complex relationship challenges, while developing new relationship skills to build greater harmony. Relationship counseling is designed to teach skills and help couples have a better relationship by facilitating communication, conflict resolution and problem solving in a safe, objective and constructive atmosphere. The goals of couples coaching are to help you communicate effectively, build and maintain trust, learn relationship skills and develop a satisfying and fulfilling relationship.
Listed below are common areas for couples in which we specialize.
spiral2grow, a counseling center in NYC, with their couples counselors, provides skills to overcome power struggle for individuals and couples. Our experts in power struggle include couples counselors and marriage therapists who help building successful relationships by teaching healthy relationship skills.
Not once a personal relationship tends to exist as a power struggle. A power-struggle exists when one partner insists on getting his/her own way without considering the other person needs. Unfortunately, in such case, all people involved in the relationship are in losing position. In marriage or intimate relationship, extending the desire for control to our the other half tends to lead to unhappiness and even divorce as only few relationships can survive long in the control/rebellion position. The reality is that power struggle is pretty common, troublesome/taxing, unhealthy and mainly destructive.
Power struggle is challenging for many couples. It is not easy to face a partner that you love “makes you crazy,” is controlling, and pushes your buttons. That makes you disappointed, upset, angry and even resentment. Yet, the upside of the power struggle, if you use it constructively, is that it can make you grow. In my practice, spiral2grow, I explain to couples that power struggle is a natural phase in a relationship and can be can be used as an opportunity to wake up, grow and stretch your skills to be more connected and in love.
Unfortunately, many couples are stuck in that phase and cannot let go of the desire to “win the argument.” This leads them to loss the relationship. Couples, who are open and committed and that are willing to work hard and accept responsibility for their actions, can experience a total transformation and even a shift in their conscious to see the benefit that power struggle bring to their relationship. I also believe and know that when only one person change, it change the whole dynamics.
Differences in relationship are always going to be present. What going to change is your reaction to the differences and the way you approach such differences. The goal is to reach a point of respecting the differences, feeling unthreatened and conducting your response to the differences in a healthy way.
In marriage or intimate relationship, when power struggles exist constantly (without resolution), either the relationship will fail, or one spouse will fall apart. If both spouses have the willingness and motivation to resolve the couples problems, as well as the skills needed to make it work, it can often bring the marriage to another level of respect, happiness and fulfillment. Yet, in many cases, couples or marriage counseling is necessary– because it is very difficult to shake destructive beliefs from a person when he has held them for much of his life. The ability to resolve the power struggle rests in both spouses’ willingness and readiness to acknowledge two main points: first, that a healthy marriage “takes two”, and, as such, each person’s beliefs, needs, feelings, and input are equally essential; and second, that each is an individual person who cannot be taken advantage of, silenced, or dismissed.
Imago couples counseling, developed by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly is one method (Getting the Love You Want: a guide for couples) that proposes a constructive way to understand and work with the struggles to emerge stronger and happier. Other effective relationship methods include: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), developed by Susan Johnson, Gottman Method, developed by John Gottman, spiral2grow and their couples counselors utilize the mentioned methods and others to ultimately create a customize solution and that is best of practice and effective.
Loving relationship is built on respect and mutuality. Mutuality, and compromise as well as assertiveness skills and healthy communication skills are the antidote to power struggles. This is why it is in your own relationship’s best interests to build a win-win relationship and not to control the other. When one of you loses, so does the relationship. Committing to resolving the power struggle opens a space for deep communication, empathy, safety, healing and being on the path toward a loving relationship.
Below please find few steps to defuse a power struggle:
- Listen to understand your partner’s point of view with patience and respect. You might have heard it all before but try to understand why the situation has become so loaded.
- Pay attention to what is NOT being said (ex: emotion and body language). A useful prompt is: “Can you explain why you feel so strongly about this?”
- Behind nearly every power struggle is fear. Resist the temptation to placate, rationalize or dismiss these fears. Instead acknowledge them aloud. When someone feels truly heard, they will be happy to listen to your concerns.
- Be open and clear. With everything out in the open, you are finally ready to look for a win-win outcome.
- Acknowledge (to yourself and your partner) that the person you fell in love with is a unique individual with his/her own wishes, needs, preferences, and experiences.
- Accept your partner’s uniqueness. Needing to be in control of decisions is a major block to accepting that your partner’s perspective is both different from your own and valid.
- Create and provide enough space so that each of you has a voice in the decision-making process. This space is created when judgment is suspended and you and your partner take the time and effort to understand each other’s perspective – even when you disagree with him/her.
- Appreciate – recognize the positive qualities and characteristics your partner offers
- Remember, as long as you keep the power-struggle shuffle alive, the gifts of love and intimacy will never be realized.
Break Vicious Cycles in Relationship
spiral2grow, a counseling practice in Midtown Manhattan (New York City), provides the necessary skills to break negative vicious cycles that is so detrimental to couples’s relationship. Our experts, couples therapists and marriage counselors, understand how to overcome vicious cycles and help building successful relationships by teaching healthy relationship skills.
Negative patterns in relationships are like negative thoughts and attitude – they tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Habits, in general, and negative behavioral patterns specifically, are hard to break because they are the product of ongoing repetition. It also has secondary gained and fulfill a psychological need. Many negative patterns in intimate relationships are the result of historical baggage that manifest itself in breakdowns in communication. Fortunately, most of these vicious cycles can be broken and changed to establish new healthy patterns.
Breaking negative behavior patterns in relationships requires insight and self-awareness. It requires a commitment from each partner to stand by each other, provide the necessary safety and work together to weather the storm in their relationship. Regardless of the level of commitment of your partner, if one person is working and changing, it change the whole dynamic of the relationship. So, don’t be discourage if your partner is not as committed as you are. In some instances, it may also require the assistance of a therapist (a psychotherapist, marriage or couples therapist) in order to help get to the root of the negative behavior and to facilitate the process of change.
Few examples of negative patterns that cause difficulties in a relationship:
- Living in the Past – Everyone is haunted by ghosts in their lives. The problem arises when the ghosts of the past take on a life of their own. For example, if someone has gone through a bitter divorce it can affect one’s ability to trust another person. However, you need to let go of the past in order to have a healthy relationship. If these issues are not dealt with, the same feelings of mistrust and insecurity will unconsciously be transferred to a new partner and can lead to a pattern of broken relationships. Moving on after experiencing a trauma is difficult and this is why it may require professional help from a therapist and relief is not instantaneous. Nevertheless, this is a very worthwhile investment.
- Giving Someone the Cold Shoulder – I am sure everyone has come across someone who is “the strong silent type.” This pattern of behavior often stems from a mindset that showing emotion and vulnerability are a sign of weakness. For example, if someone is having a difficult time at work, they may feel very upset and angry. If this person views displaying emotions as a sign of weakness, they will feel reluctant to discuss this problem with their partner. These negative feelings can boil over and lead to a vicious cycle of keeping one’s partner at arm’s length whenever they are upset. If communication has become an ongoing issue in a relationship, couples therapy can be helpful in restoring the lines of communication and teaching your “silent partner” how to express themselves in a healthier manner.
- Being Argumentative – There are some people who always need to have the last word and insist on proving they are right. While disagreeing and debating are healthy forms of behavior, you also need to know when it is time to throw in the towel regardless of who is right. In all intimate relationships, you should pick your battles wisely and respect each other’s feelings. Sometimes agreeing to disagree will get you much further than a long drawn out argument. Not letting go of an argument sends the message to your partner that you do not respect their opinions and feelings. Someone who regularly engages in this negative behavior needs to carefully evaluate their priorities in terms of their relationship. It is important to remember that even if you win the battle and show you are right, you will end up losing the war – and your relationship.
- Withholding Sex – This is a common, yet frustrating behavior pattern that can occur in intimate relationships. This behavior stems from underlying difficulties in a relationship that need to be addressed. For example, when a woman feels tired because of her personal obligations and is not receiving affection or getting assistance from her husband, it is not uncommon for her not to want to have sexual relations. However, the husband may interpret the withholding of sex as a form of passive-aggressive behavior. This leads to a vicious cycle of broken communication, unfulfilled needs, and resentment. In this situation, it is important to communicate one’s need for affection and assistance. Once these needs are met, the cycle of withholding sexual relations will be broken.
- Power Struggle – If you both walk on eggshells around each other, feeling scared, misunderstood and feeling stuck, you may experience power struggle that make your life miserable. After a while of this power struggle amplify. You find yourself that even the smallest disagreements get blown out of proportion leaving you feeling alone, abandoned and totally disconnected from the one person you love most.
- Being Rigid – A couple’s ability to adapt to life’s inevitable stressors and make necessary changes to meet these difficulties head on is linked to the development of emotional intimacy. Couples who are flexible and not rigid and work together during hard times are likely to feel closer to each other than those who work at cross-purposes.
- Blaming – Blaming is unhealthy way of thinking and it is the opposite of personal responsibility and accountability.
- Unrealistic expectations – One of the great relationship destroyers is that of unrealistic expectations. Expecting something out of the relationship that the other is either ignorant of, unwilling to provide, or simply unable to provide. Disappointment, frustration and anger is the result.
Managing Conflict: Solvable vs. Perpetual Problems
We all have conflicts in our relationships. Sometimes they are simple disagreements, and other times they are horrific battles. John Gottman emphasis the importance of differentiating between a problem that is solvable vs perpetual problem. Gottman Institute research has shown that 69% of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. All couples have them – these problems are grounded in the fundamental differences that any two people face.
They are either 1) fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict, or 2) fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs.
The research concludes that couples repeatedly insist in solving perpetual problems that are very difficult to solve. As such, rather than focusing on solving the issue, it is more important to establish a dialogue about them. If couples cannot establish healthy dialogue about it, the conflict becomes gridlocked, and gridlocked conflict eventually leads to emotional disengagement.
Let us explain the difference between a solvable problem, a perpetual problem, and a gridlocked perpetual problem.
- Solvable problems can be about chores, housecleaning, parenting, disciplining children, sex, and in-laws. Solvable problems for one couple can be about the exact same topics that could be perpetual problems for a different couple. A solvable problem within a relationship is about something situational. The conflict is simply about that topic, and there may not be a deeper meaning behind each partner’s position. A solution can be found and maintained.
- Perpetual problems are problems that center on either fundamental differences in your personalities, or fundamental differences in your life style needs. All couples have perpetual problems. These issues can seemingly be about the exact same topics as what for another couple might be solvable; however, unlike a solvable problem, these are the problems that a couple will return to them over and over again.
- Gridlocked perpetual problems are perpetual problems that have been mishandled and have essentially calcified into something “uncomfortable.” When a couple tries to discuss a gridlocked issue, it may feel like they are “spinning their wheels” and getting nowhere. The nature of gridlock is that hidden agendas underlie the issue. That that is needed to be explored.
The key issue to understand is that what matters most is not solving perpetual problems, but rather the affect with which they are discussed. The goal should be to establish a dialogue about the perpetual problem that communicates acceptance of your partner with compassion, affection, and even humor and amusement. In that way the couple learn to live and actively cope with the unresolvable problem rather than allowing it to fall into the condition of gridlock. Gridlocked discussions only lead to painful exchanges or icy silence, and almost always involve the Four Horsemen (criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness).
Poor communication skills, disagreements and misunderstandings can be a source of anger and distance, or a springboard to a stronger relationship and happier future. Communication is one of the most important areas of a relationship. Unhappy couples are often unable to communicate, and when communication breaks down, so does marriage and intimacy. Couples with high level of communication skills are more satisfied with their marriages and are more likely to solve their challenges in a better way.
The importance of communication in relationship is often not taken seriously as many couples tend to think that the daily banter or the lack of it doesn’t affect them on a regular basis. But communication is the vehicle through which all other important parts of relationship are performed. If you care about someone, but you don’t use your words and your actions to communicate it, you’re not engaged in a healthy way with your partner. If you trust someone, let them know it. If you are upset express it. If you need something say it. Communicate it to them and communicate it respectfully and assertively. The importance of communication should be considered right from the start as it sets the right foundation of the relationship.
Good communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. When people are not communicating well, they stop relating well, and times of change or stress can really bring out disconnect. Without communication, there’s nothing to hold the relationship together and help it function smoothly. As long as you are communicating well, you can work through whatever problem you’re facing. It is always better to address problems through communication then to bury them thinking that they will go away eventually – they won’t! Talk it out in a way that is supportive and loving whenever necessary. Learning to have effective communication in marriage is one of the most important aspects of marriage that a couple can work on.
Jealousy in Intimate Relationship
Jealousy is a normal emotions that has its own evolutionary explanation. Sometimes the feeling is justified and at other times it isn’t. However, when people experience it strongly, frequently and act on it when it is unnecessary, it may lead to a destruction of trust and intimacy. It might even lead to the termination of the relationship.
Jealousy can be normal and may flare when you feel that a person you love may be “taken away” by someone else. It’s a response to what you feel could be a threat to your relationship. However, jealousy can be a dangerous response one with the potential to damage your relationship with your spouse, unless you understand why it exists and how to manage it.
Some forms of jealousy are in fact good, as they do signal a threat. For example, if you catch a woman batting her eyes at your husband, a flag goes up inside of you: “This woman is trying to make a move on my husband.” Clearly, you love your husband and want to guard your marriage, so it’s not a bad thing that you feel the desire to protect it. the main point is the degree and intensity of the jealousy, how frequent in happens, what is the context and more importantly how you express your jealousy.
Jealousy is an emotion activating, and fed by a combination of love, fear and anger, resentment, inadequacy and helplessness. Jealousy is driven by deep seeded feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection.
Many people describe jealousy as an extremely painful, “ugly” and “crazy” feeling. It manifests itself as illogical rage, suspicion, the inability to get beyond an infraction, the impulse to hurt the other, or the urge to simply hide. Simply said, jealousy can hijack our cognition and pushes us to act negatively.
Many believe that the underline reason for jealousy is to prevent infidelity. But the main reason is deeper than that and created by personal insecurity. The fact is that no one can control their partner, and if someone want to cheat they will ultimately cheat. Not only a jealous person cannot keep their partner loyal, but it damages the trust in the relationship and pushes away their partner to cheat.
spiral2grow Marriage Family Therapy, a leading provider in couples counseling and marriage therapy in New York City, has marriage and family counselors and couples therapists, who are expert in helping couples overcome jealousy and build trust. We guide couples through their emotional challenges, build relationship skills, while re-establishing their trust as a foundation for healthy marriage. Located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison #8023, New York, NY 10016, spiral2grow offers effective, proven short-term marriage therapy and couples counseling.
How to Overcome Jealousy
Jealousy destroys intimate relationship very quickly. It is a fear-based emotion that colors your perspective on everything. If you find yourself feeling jealous in a relationship, it is probably more about you than your partner. So how do you deal with jealousy? The way to deal with jealousy is to recognize that your jealousy may be unfounded and then open the lines of communication between you and your partner and be respectfully expressive.
Insecurity produces jealousy. When you are not confident and don’t feel good about yourself, you project these doubts onto your partner. If you don’t love and appreciate yourself, it is hard that anyone else will love you back. Your insecurity is not appealing nor attractive. When you become jealous or suspicious, you pushes your partner further away. It is important to know that Self-confidence is jealousy’s kryptonite.
“Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.” ~Unknown
Heal your wounds
If you have been experienced infidelity in the past or have been abandoned previously, then you may still have to heal yourself from your traumatic past. It is not an easy process, but with commitment and patience, you can forgive and move on. In order for you to move forward constructively, you must let go of the past before it ruins your relationship.
No one can guarantee that our loved ones will always be there for us. They may leave. They may pass away. They may make a rude comment. They may cheat. They may lie. They may disappoint you in many different ways. Yet, you must have the confidence and faith in yourself and that you can handle whatever happens.
We can’t count on anybody 100 percent, and any relationship including intimate relationships involve risk. Yes, you may get hurt, but you’ll survive. So, open your heart, take chances and live life to its fullest.
Don’t act on your feelings
Jealous feelings are natural, yet they are very different from jealous behaviors. Similar to anger that it is one thing to feel angry and another to act angrily or hostile, there is a difference between feeling jealous and acting on your jealousy. jealous behavior can be detrimental to your relationship and action such as continual accusations, reassurance-seeking, being angry, and acting-out. So, when you fell jealous, say to yourself, “I know that I am feeling jealous, but I don’t have to act on it.”
Express your jealousy
Instead of brooding on thoughts of infidelity, simply share with your partner how you are feeling as soon as you start feeling that way. Express your emotions with love and care without anger or blame. Expressing your fears will help release the negative energy of the jealousy and will help you overcome it.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Being critical of yourself and comparing yourself to others is unhelpful. The fact is that there will always be someone with a bigger, smarter, stronger better whatever. What you need to appreciate is your value and uniqueness as the sum total of who you are is what makes you special.
While it seems natural to compare yourself to others and envy them, this behavior is destructive and completely learned. You can learn to be aware when you engage in such unhealthy behavior and stop this bad habit while replacing it with new, healthy behaviors and attitudes. Your self-esteem and confidence will dramatically improve.
Remember “Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” ~Unknown
Trust your partner
If you dramatically fear that your partner will cheat or leave, you will push your partner away. Jealousy makes you controlling and unattractive. This is why it is important for you to stop jealousy in your intimacy by giving your mate the benefit of the doubt. besides, as we said before, you cannot control your partner, so you better trust them.
Focus on the present
When we are jealous, we are often focusing on the “what if’s.” Jealousy is a fear about the future. It is often the fear of something that hasn’t even happened. You have no foundation for these thoughts other than your insecurities. Be present in your relationship, appreciate your present situation, instead of worrying about hypothetical situations. Besides, focusing on what we cannot control is wasting energy in the wrong places and creating misery. Instead, focus on the present moment.
Build and Develop Intimacy
spiral2grow, a leading provider of couples counseling and marriage therapy in New York City (NYC), has intimacy experts and marriage counselors, who help build intimate marriages and intimate relationships. We consider intimacy as key element in any healthy relationship and important factor in successful marriage. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison Avenue #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven marriage counseling, couples therapy, individual counseling and psychotherapy as well as intimacy classes and workshops.
Intimacy and romance play an important part in providing the reassurance and trust that underpins all successful relationships. Where there is a lack of intimacy and romance one or both partners may feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied with the relationship. Intimacy isn’t just about good sex, though sex is a big part of it in partnerships. Intimacy is achieved when the two of you can share your thoughts, opinions, and feelings with one another. Intimacy is when two people create an environment where there is a true heart to heart connection. Intimacy is also build when you create new experiences, new memories and continually being curious about one another. It is when you feel a sense of peace, harmony, balance and unconditional love for their partner and when they are in their partner’s presence. There is no battle of ego’s (power struggle), no need to win, manipulate or control. Intimacy is deep (some say spiritual) connection.
When you’re truly intimate with your partner you can talk about who you really are, say what you need and want, and be heard by him/her. Intimate relationships have a sense of mutuality, which means you’re as concerned with your partner’s satisfaction and happiness as with your own. You want to see your partner emotionally, intellectually, socially, sexually and professionally fulfilled. Your marital intimacy is also strengthened when you two are spending time as a couple, having fun together, and surprising one another.
During counseling we will explore the varied meanings of intimacy and help partners articulate their expectations and fears, consider alternative modes of relating, and negotiate the best fit between them. Creating intimacy in a relationship takes time and isn’t always easy, but it’s possible to create intimacy with your special someone. Intimacy is the freedom to be yourself. Building intimacy is expressing yourself more and more in your relationship. Building intimacy doesn’t mean you’ll make all that happen, of course, but your partner’s satisfaction is equally important to you.
spiral2grow, a counseling center in NYC, provides skills to overcome sexual intimacy problems for individuals and couples. Our experts in sexuality include couples counselors and marriage therapists who help in building healthy and successful relationships by teaching relationship and sexual intimacy skills.
David Deida said “The purpose of your intimacy is the passionate transmission of love, the rejuvenative healing of sexual energy, and the cultivation of heart through your mutual commitment to spiritual awakening.”
Many couples in couples therapy may complain about sex issues: discrepancies in desire, lack of attraction or sexual compatibility, arousal or orgasm problems, going through infidelity or in the trigger of trauma or other sexual challenges. Such issues are most often part of an underlying lack of safety and connection in the relationship that is caused by the unhealthy cycle between the partners.
Sex is very important in a relationship because it is how we bond at a greater level. By having sex with your partner, you show them that you care about their needs and you trust them. It is important to note that sex is not just physical; it can also be an emotional and mental adventure that brings you closer to your partner. Remember that the most important sexual organ is the brain.
When couples argue or resentful, they start drifting further away from physical intimacy. As they start to feel more disconnected, they’re not apt to feel very sexual, and a destructive cycle takes over. To regain a positive sex life, couples need to find a way to put sex back on the top of the list find a way to reduce daily and relationship stresses where they can. Both partners must redirect positive energy toward their relationship with each other, and get over feelings of anger, guilt or excuses that they are too busy, or too tired.
Start a ritual together, then work from there. For example, plan a special night, or simply spend quality time together after the kids have gone to bed, devote some attention to each other at least one night a week, if not more. Soon stress in your relationship will diminish and a greater connection will be established. This, in turn, will enable you to deal better with other life’s stress and that vicious negative circle that you face will rapidly reverse into a positive beneficial experience. You will feel happier, you’ll be more connected, feel supported and fulfilled.
Even though many women and men think it’s the key to a great connection, the importance of sex in a relationship is completely subjective. What one person might consider a crucial factor, another may dismiss altogether. How much sex matters within your own relationship is something only you can decide. If you and your partner are content with the situation – no matter what that is – then you may have already found your answer.
Intimacy and sex are not the same thing. Sex without intimacy is just physical. Intimacy without sex can be pure and spiritual. But sex with someone you love can be gentle and tender, hot and wild, comfortable or simply sublime.
Problem Solving Skills
Interpersonal relationships fail and businesses fail because of poor problem solving skills. As such, everyone can benefit from having solving problem effectively. Problem solving process is more likely to be successful with good judgment and common sense as well as the wisdom to see the big picture and the desire to bridge the differences to establish unity and harmony.
An integral part of healthy relationship, specifically problem solving skills, is effective communication that helps us better understand a person or situation and enables us to resolve differences, build trust and respect, and create environments where creative ideas, problem solving, affection, and caring can flourish.
spiral2grow, a counseling center in NYC, provides problem solving skills for individuals and couples. Our experts in problem solving include couples therapists and marriage counselors who help building successful relationships by teaching healthy relationship and problem solving skills. spiral2grow, located in midtown Manhattan at 260 Madison #8023, New York, NY 10016, offers proven solutions in a variety of formats: individual counseling, couples counseling, marriage therapy and relationship workshop.
Problem Solving Overview
The pursuit of mutual understanding will make most problems go away and you can solve the rest when you take a team approach to solving them together in a positive way. Keep the problem to the problem and keep your relationship a priority. Problems can be an opportunity to learn and grow together. By using an effective problem solving methods with a positive, productive approach to life’s challenges, you will be able to keep your loving relationship alive and happy with mutual honesty, kindness, and respect. Couples also need constructive problem-solving skills and this can be done by developing strong communication skills, which is one of the most important aspects to effectively handling issues that might arise in relationships. When problems do arise, seek understanding first. Research shows that about 80% of problems don’t even have to be solved when the couple talks through the issues and reaches mutual understanding. Only the most difficult problems will require the use of problem solving methods.
Basic Problem Solving Approach
Agenda Setting – What the specific issue we are planning to discuss.
Brainstorming – Suggest alternatives without evaluating them (be creative) while addressing all concerns.
Agreement – Create a Win-Win solution.
Follow up – Evaluate the solution and make adjustment if needed.
A Step-by-Step Approach to Problem-Solving
The problem-solving approach outlined below can be used with any type of problem. This strategy should be implemented when the couple gets stuck on a particular issue, or keeps having conflict over an issue.
Step One: Define the Problem – Define what issue will be addressed.
Step Two: Identify the Underlying Needs – Clarifying the needs that you and your partner while considering them in the solution may open the door to new alternative solutions.
Step Three: Brainstorming – Once the need or needs have been identified, the next step is to brainstorm possible solutions. During brainstorming, you and your partner should try to identify as many solutions as possible, without worrying if the ideas are feasible or practical. Both should not critique any idea or solution at this stage since an outrageous idea may have some merit or provide the inspiration for another idea.
Step Four: Evaluate the Ideas – After you have generated a sufficient number of ideas through brainstorming, you can begin to evaluate the ideas. After evaluating each option, you will need to choose an option that seems to offer the best solution to addressing both you and your partner’s needs. Solutions that strongly favor one person’s needs over another’s are less likely to be as successful as those that require compromise from both individuals.
Step Five: Implement the Solution – In this step, you will need to discuss the specifics of how to implement the solution. It is usually recommended that the solution be implemented on a trial basis, and then the results re-evaluated to see if the solution worked.
Step Six: Evaluate the Success of the Solution – The sixth step is to evaluate if the problem has been successfully resolved. Are both of you satisfied with the outcome? If not, you could consider trying an alternative solution. Or, it may be necessary to go back to even earlier steps. Don’t let problems tear you apart. Learn from them and use the solution process to help you create an even more intimate and satisfying marriage. While relationship problems are varied and complex, we believe that most relationship problems are by-products of ineffective or counterproductive communication within the relationship. Improved problem solving starts with improved communication that is then enhanced with problem solving skills.
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