As a couples therapist, I often have couples that tell me how much their phone is interfering with their lives and their relationship. When they reunite after a day at work, couples say that their phones serve as an all-too-easy distraction that reduces the quality of their time together. It can keep them from having important conversation. It can keep their mind partially at the office instead of being fully present at home. It’s a real problem – we’ve talked about it a previous blog post, too.
Often, people come to our office and ask what they can do to improve their lives, to fix their relationship, or to make the work experience more rewarding? It is not an easy question and there certain are no easy answers. Everyone has their own unique experience that we explore in the counseling process.
There are few points in a relationship so painful as when it comes to light that a partner has not been faithful. Reaching outside the relationship for physical or emotional connection can take many forms but all of them can feel overwhelming and devastating. In order to heal from these experiences, it often requires deep levels of understanding from both partners and help from a trusted & highly-trained professional.
And when that happens – when you’ve communicated and shared and loved and grown – the needs that they have can seem less like nagging and more like those needs are your very own. You can celebrate when they are happy, and not be jealous. You can hold them when they are sad and not feel the need to fix it or a sense of blame. You don’t just understand them intellectually, you can begin to see the world through their eyes and experience the world through their senses.
If you ask any therapist who works with relationship issues, they will tell you that every single couple they see will say, at some point in the process, “We just need help communicating.” If you’ve ever thought that – or said it aloud – know that you are definitely not alone.I have to admit, though, I think there is way more going on than just that.
If you’re going to be a human being, then relationships are going to be a part of your life. We are social creatures and when we find ourselves in a safe and loving relationship with another human, we have an opportunity to thrive. Close relationships – whether they’re romantic or not – come with many benefits. When we fall in love, though, we might not be remembering that relationships are also hard work!
Understanding and empathy are the keys to healing and growth. If you’ve been told for your entire life that you’re not good enough, having a relationship with someone who provides you with support can be a healing and restorative experience. If that person gets frustrated with your low self-esteem or your hesitancy to connect with others, it’s an indication that empathy isn’t really present.
When you find someone that shares your values, challenges you to grow, validates your emotions, and stands beside you no matter what, you know you’ve found a real partner. These relationships give support and love and the energy to continue. There is great power in knowing that there is someone standing beside you. This is one of the great benefits that people talk about when they experience therapy for the first time. It is an incredible moment when you feel like someone gets you.
There is a deep-down part of us that has evolved to need human-to-human contact. This is the contact that comforts our spirits and let’s us know that we are not alone in the world. In reality, we can have enormous lists of friends and still feel completely alone. According to neuroscientists, when we really connect in face-to-face conversation, parts of our brains literally begin to synchronize. This keeps us attached to each other. It can help keep us securely coupled together.