Changing Your Perspective
Couples therapy is a passion of mine. There is great joy for me in witnessing couples come in to the office with, usually a negative view on their relationship or their partner, and leave with a more positive view that fosters hope.
Thankfully we have the ability to make choices. We make choices all day at our jobs, with our families, while driving, and certainly in our relationships. We can choose to focus on the negative aspects of our relationships or our partner; or we can choose to have a more positive view. This doesn’t mean that we ignore or forget about the characteristics that we don’t enjoy, we can still work to improve these. Choosing to focus on the positive aspects will keep the relationship anchored while the undesired characteristics are being dealt with.
We always have two paths to choose from in our daily dealings with our partners, one is the negative thought path and the other is the more positive thought path. If you choose the positive thought path a light bulb turns on and guides your way, whereas, if you take the negative thought path the bulb dims and it's hard to navigate. You may lose your way. When you are on the lighted path communication can become much clearer and conflict is more easily resolved. While on the lighted path, you can look over and see the dimmer path and decide, with more clarity, how to more effectively work through concerns.
According to Dr. John Gottman who has completed years of excellent research on relationships and has written many books, here are five important relationship facts (Timing is Everything When it Comes to Relationship, Dr. Gottman Relationship Blog.)
- If toxic relationship patterns can be identified early and agreed upon, the process of real change can begin.
- A motivated couple can begin to explore their problems from a new perspective and learn new ways to recognize and resolve conflicts as a result of the tools provided by the therapist.
- Partners can begin to build trust and improve communication that may have eroded the quality of their interactions.
- A couple’s counselor can provide “neutral territory” to help couples agree upon and work through tough issues with support.
- Couples can decide to rebuild their marriage and make a renewed commitment or clarify the reasons why they need to separate or end the marriage.
How important is timing?
Timing can be a deal breaker when it comes to relationship counseling. Many couples wait until it is too late. I have seen couples that have little progress in therapy because one or both partners have already decided that they want out of the relationship. When couples first start to experience a problem that isn’t being resolved, this is a good time to involve an experienced third party to mediate resolve and instill hope.
Advice for the month: Don’t wait until it is too late. Utilize the resources that are available. if you value your relationship, make it a priority.
Wishing you all healthy and fulfilling relationships.
Janean Byrne, MS, LMHC
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