Do You Feel Stuck In a Cycle of Negative Interaction With Your Partner? 

Do you keep having the same fight over and over again? Is it often about money or sex? You may be frustrated and amazed how you can argue so much without ever coming to a workable solution. Does it feel like you and your partner are more like roommates than lovers? Maybe you’re wondering, “How did I end up like this, feeling so lonely and disconnected.” Or perhaps you are thinking about getting married and want to head off any potential road blocks by getting help now. 

All couples start from a place of joy and feeling understood by their partner. Both parties feel important to the other person and want to know and understand each other’s dreams, passions and problems – in fact, we go out of our way to do so. But somewhere along the way, work, family, jobs, and responsibilities creep back up the priority list. Sometimes in hindsight, you can see where the distancing began. Other times, you may wake up and realize you feel like strangers.  Are you wondering how you can get that close connection back? 

Men and Women Communicate Differently

Because of the way we raise boys in our culture—to be the “strong silent type” and not show vulnerability—men often struggle with how to be in romantic relationships. The things that are required to be intimate and close with your partner are often mistaken for weakness in the distorted “boy culture” most men come from. What was a survival skill for young men growing up often becomes a liability in our adult lives and marriages. 

Conversely, women are raised with permission to express their feelings and are often very attuned to how present and emotionally available their partners are. Women want and expect the best from their partners, but these expectations can end up feeling like a bar that keeps getting raised. To many men, these requests can feel like harsh criticisms, causing them to pull away. This common pattern can invite a response of “aiming low” so the expectation doesn’t escalate, but often ends in mistrust and hostility.

Do You Feel Like Your Relationship Is More Business Than Pleasure? 

When the “honeymoon” phase passes, many couples start to lose that initial warmth and intimacy they felt in the beginning. But think about it: you didn’t have as many external influences to deal with at the start of your relationship. Now there are kids, responsibilities, bills....

Even if you and your partner are running a household and functioning on some levels as a team, in your core, you may feel lonely and separated. Each of you is engaged in your day, things are getting done, bills are getting paid, and there’s a lot of “doing”. What’s missing, however, is real, deep, honest connection. 

Do you kiss your partner before they leave for work? I bet you used to. Do you and your partner clear out all distractions and then ask about each other’s day and what is going on inside of them? Or do you fall into bed, too tired to start a discussion for fear it will end in yet another argument? Before you know it, weeks, months, and even years have passed without that sense of warmth and intimacy that you desire. 

All couples struggle—it’s part of being in a relationship and, rest assured, it happens to everyone. It is natural and normal to have conflict. The good news is you’re looking for help. That’s a really good sign! You have acknowledged things aren’t working and are taking steps to seek help and work through your problems. 

Couples Counseling Can Help You Rediscover the Warmth and Intimacy you Once Shared

Couples counseling is a dynamic and fluid process. During our sessions I will help you and your partner honestly explore how the dynamics of your relationship have changed. My goal is to establish a rapport with both of you. If I’m doing that well, both parties are, at the very least, feeling heard and understood by me. I try to be as curious as possible about both people in our first session so that I can find out why you are feeling unseen or misunderstood. Some of what I do is simply to help explain men to their female partners and vice versa. 

Many times frustrations in a relationship are centered on money. Who pays the bills? Who brings in money? Is that equitable or fair? I’ll help you wade through these difficult questions. Maybe your problems are more around childcare and chores. Who is taking care of the kids? How do those duties get divided? In our couples counseling sessions I will help you learn how to acknowledge and not judge your partner’s feelings, even if you don’t always agree with them. 

It’s natural for some people to wear their heart on their sleeve. But for others, the thought of being vulnerable is terrifying. I will help you both learn to recognize your own shortcomings and how to say I’m sorry. When you miss the mark, admit that. Own it. Be able to take responsibility. I’ll help you learn how. 

Couples counseling can be a wonderful tool, but its effectiveness depends on the commitment of both the people involved. You must be willing to grow and face your own challenges. If so, couples counseling can help you develop a better understanding of yourself and your partner’s perspective. You can create more effective communication strategies, reconnect intimately, and begin to see your partner as a struggling human being instead of someone who is withholding the “good stuff” from you. 

You might be ready for change, but still have questions or concerns about couples counseling…

Our problems are really bad. This is going to take forever. 

Yes, couples counseling can take time to reach its maximum potential. Your problems didn’t get this bad overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight either. It takes time to get back to a place of health and balance in the relationship. Part of expressing each party’s commitment to the relationship is saying, “I’m willing to take that time”.

This is going to be expensive.

Couples Counseling - John Skandalis - Seattle

The things we spend money on are a marker of what we value. Like anything else that we put energy toward, we are more likely to have the outcome we desire if we put resources toward it, too. I invite you to think of couples counseling as an investment in the relationship that you really want. Like anything we desire, it comes with a price. You have to make the decision for yourself whether it is worth it.

This is going to bring up more “stuff” and hurt feelings than I want to acknowledge.

My goal is to make your couples counseling a safe place to talk about the things that are creating distance in the relationship. It’s hard to talk about resentments you may have toward your partner. However, the only way to get overcome these resentments is to talk about them openly and honestly with a neutral third party to work your way back to the loving relationship you began with. 

Socrates said “Peace is not the absence of conflict, peace is the ability to deal with conflict.” In my work with couples, I have found that conflict is inevitable. What makes the difference is gaining the skills needed to deal with them. Contact me to set up an initial 25 minute in person consult at no fee so we can determine if the three of us are a good fit to work together.