Wouldn’t it be nice if life was like the movies and relationships were “happily ever after”? That would be easier, and less work.
But the reality is that real relationships in real life come complete with joy and love and mess and responsibility and sometimes pain.
Honestly, that’s what makes real relationships amazing.
I work with couples who want to have a deeper bond and lasting connection.
Relationships are important to me. They’re important to everyone. That’s a biological fact of being human. We are a social species and hard-wired to attach to others.
It’s why relationships can produce so much joy and it’s why they can trigger other deep emotional responses as well.
Relationships take a lot of work and effort. But we don’t always make relationships a true priority.
Why should we bother working on relationships?
Because when you have a strong bond in relationship, you can:
- feel secure and confident to go out into the world and be your best self
- contribute in ways that are meaningful
- raise emotionally healthy children
- enjoy the warmth and security of a deep and loving connection.
- reap the emotional and physical health benefits that come with feeling connected and supported within the context of relationship
Here are five ways I help couples strengthen their relationships and increase their sense of joy:
Working on how we communicate with one another has a direct and strong impact on how connected, supported and respected we feel.
It also helps us get through conflict (unavoidable in relationship!) and stay connected.
Enhancing friendship within a partnership is a cornerstone of happiness in a long term relationship. And despite what you may have heard, it does not equate to a loss of passion (in fact, it feeds passion).
Deepening your knowledge of your partner tends to deepen understanding, respect, and attraction.
No one can be a perfect partner. We will all make mistakes in relationship and it often means we hurt one another inadvertently; it is through repair that we can deepen our understanding of one another and prevent resentment.
Sometimes words or actions that have hurt our partner require a skillful and meaningful apology. With some guidance, you can both get to a place of feeling heard and understood and moving forward.
4. Dispelling myths
There are so many myths out there about what marriage or committed relationship is supposed to look like or myths about how passion gets lost over time. It helps to know from the research what is true and what is myth about relationships.
5. Conflict management
To be in close relationship means there will be inevitable conflict and disagreement.
We typically learn conflict management originally through our family of origin and styles can vary.
Sadly, mismatched or poor conflict management styles can create more pain and damage than necessary. It can help to learn and practice more effective strategies together.
Doing couples counseling is worth it. It’s not just for couples on the outs. It’s for couples who want to stay together out of love—not out of fear or convenience.
Leah Ottow, LCSW, is a therapist at New Approaches in Falmouth, Maine. She has training in Gottman Method couples therapy assessment and treatment. She is also an approved provider of the Gottman Relationship Checkup, which aids and enhances the initial assessment process for more targeted feedback and treatment.
Leah enjoys supporting couples in deepening and strengthening their bond and working through challenges. She is now offering a 4-session (75 minutes per session) assessment package. The goal is to get a full and accurate picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship and to provide feedback and treatment guidelines, with the option of continuing on for ongoing couples therapy. Contact her for a free 15-minute phone consultation to discuss if this could be a good fit for you relationship needs.