When two people meet in life and the energy between them is exciting and strong, they will continue to be together. In the initial stage of the relationship there is a process of discovering about one another, and who we are within the relationship. Subsequently, if and when we decide we want the relationship to be permanent (by living together, getting married, and/or having children), regular life begins, and we often switch to what I call an "automatic pilot mode." We begin to live in an unconscious way/state, and slowly one of the two partners begins to wonder about what doesn't feel right. We start getting into discussions about each other, and many times one or the other partner feels attacked or misunderstood. Alternatively, discussion are getting avoided altogether and resentment about the other person festers.
Without generalizing in every case, people often take on very predictable roles within the relationship. One will take a pleaser role while the other can become the controller. No one is at fault in these situations, it just slowly happens and it is the result of not having access to the tools for effective and loving communication. I see my job as "waking up" couples in counseling to these emerging, often unconscious, dynamics. One of the things I do to achieve this awakening is to teach my clients how to communicate, while each doing inner core work, so they both can hear self and the other better. I am not talking only about listening but more importantly about hearing in a non-judgmental and inclusive way, in which each creates a deep understanding of what is happening in the relationship.
It is a real joy for me to work with couples. I like to work with all the different dynamics between people, and help my clients figure out this complex puzzle. I have a high success rate in couples counseling, over the 15 years I have been working with couples only 1 couple ended up divorced. All my clients (including the ones who thought they really wanted to end the relationship) found their way back to each other in deep love and understanding.
As with individual counseling, I believe we have created familiar paths in the brain in how we see life and each other, how we perceive situations, and how we react. To change these paths is not easy, and therefore I assign homework for my couples each week between sessions. As with learning to play an instrument, the more we practice, the easier and more natural it becomes.
About 80% of my couples have been heterosexual, and about 20% are same sex couples. While some of the dynamics might be slightly different there is also a great deal of overlap in the kinds of issues that emerge as experienced problematic.