It’s hard enough to get your partner to accept the idea that couples therapy might be constructive. Many partners go “kicking and screaming” to their first therapy appointment under threats of relationship break up or divorce. They may think therapy is for people who are crazy or incapable of working out their own problems. Visiting a therapist may be seen as a sign of weakness or personal failure. It’s for other people, not me. Arriving at a first couples session is indeed a rare and mighty accomplishment!
One of the most common reasons for couples to seek professional help is infidelity. This can appear in many forms, such as flirtatious and inappropriate communications with someone outside of the relationship in the form of texting, emails or actual conversations. These communications may involve deep emotional sharing, sexual content and be excessive and obsessive in nature. It might also involve actual sexual encounters and secretive rendezvous.
When one person speaks, the other is already formulating a rebuttal in their head. They are thinking of all the reasons why their partner is incorrect and why their position is right. Their partner reacts by shouting back and defending their “side” and accusing their partner of being wrong. The other person raises their voice in an attempt to be heard and the partner responds by becoming louder as well. Their partner may respond by putting up an ‘emotional wall” or by sending non- verbal signs, such as eye rolling or head shaking, enraging their partner. A shouting match ensues and each partner is speaking but no one is listening and nothing is being heard. They eventually get tired of arguing and shut down and go their own separate ways feeling hurt, angry, frustrated and miserable. They may question why they ever got together in the first place and if they should stay together.