Sonya Thomas lcsw

Getting the Most from Couples Therapy – Part 2

Continuing on in our series on how to get the most from couples therapy, borrowed and adapted from an article by Dr. Peter Pearson:

To create the relationship you really desire, there will be some difficult tradeoffs and tough choices for each person:

  • The first tradeoff will be time. It simply takes time to create a relationship that flourishes: time to be together, time to play, time to coordinate, nurture, relax and time to plan and review progress. This time will encroach on some other valuable areas – your personal and/or professional time.
  • The second tradeoff is comfort. Emotional comfort is challenged when you go out on a limb to try novel ways of thinking or doing things, such as: listening and being curious instead of butting in, speaking up instead of becoming resentfully compliant or withdrawing, taking action that is new and scary for you, or being confronted with the consequences of your actions.
  • The third tradeoff is expenditure of energy. It takes concerted effort to garner and sustain improvement over time. Energy is required to stay conscious of remembering to be more respectful, more giving, more appreciative and maneuvering differently in your relationship over time.
  • The fourth tradeoff is foregoing your habitual ways of responding to a problem. This effort is even more difficult for some people because it requires changing the way you respond to your partner when there is a problem or complaint. You will be asked to take a look at how you self-regulate yourself internally (or not), because this is directly related to how you respond to problems.

In all these areas, there is generally a conflict between short-term gratification and the long-term goal of creating a satisfying relationship. The blunt reality is that, in an interdependent relationship, effort is required on the part of each person to make transformational change and sustain improvements. This is because it is rare to never that problems in a relationship rest solely on the shoulders of only one person. Even when it appears on the surface that one person is overwhelmingly responsible for the conflicts that exist, nine times out of ten, both people contribute, though we may have to be a detective to unearth the clues that shed light on this reality.


Stay tuned for the third installment in our next blog post.  Until then, peace.