Relationship difficulties are one of the most common reasons why adults seek assistance from a psychologist. Spouses will often find times during their relationship that they cannot resolve differences about how they think or feel about important issues. Couples may feel that they have lost the level of intimacy that they once experienced, and are struggling to find a way to “reconnect” to their partner. Couples may be experiencing external stressors that are also making their relationship more difficult to manage. Conflict may arise over common “hot topics,” such as finances, ex-spouses or partners, in-laws or other extended family, parenting approaches, alcohol or substance use, or employment issues.
Such difficult topics, in conjunction with decreased feelings of intimacy, high levels of stress and difficulties in achieving real communication about such issues are often what lead couples to seek assistance from a psychologist. During couples counseling, couples work to develop healthy communication skills and to create an environment in which each partner can both “hear and be heard” from the other. In addition to creating an atmosphere of communication, a psychologist can bring new perspectives into what may be contributing to the relationship problems. Adults often form their approach to relationships during their childhood and adolescence, and their relationship style is often learned or heavily influenced by their parents. Experiences during this development may have a hidden impact on the current relationship. Identifying and understanding one’s approach to relationships in couples counseling can often reveal new ways for the couple to understand each other and restore the kind of intimacy the couple is seeking.