COUPLES THERAPY

Couples counseling sessions with Kristin
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I have been working with couples for over 20 years. I specialized in working with couples when I was in graduate school, which means that I did extra coursework related to couples and that I did most of my supervised therapy work with couples. I had always been very committed to finding a loving partnership, and I thought that studying what works to help relationships thrive might help me to have a healthy marriage someday. I could have never predicted that I would start dating my husband the same month that I started working with couples. So…20+ years into my relationship with my husband, I still love working with couples. I don’t teach anything to a couple that I have not put through the test of my own relationship. I have personally experienced how the techniques and tools that I teach to the couples that I work with have helped me in my own relationship over and over again. My husband and I are still happily married, but no marriage is easy all of the time. We walk our talk and we consciously practice the tools that I use in couples therapy with my clients.

I often think about what makes a marriage great. I have helped many couples fine-tune their relationships in couple’s therapy. The conclusion I have come to is that couples that have great relationships maintain their heart connection with one another. Our hearts are open to one another when we fall in love, which is what allows a heart connection to develop in the first place. When our hearts are open we work to understand and get to know the other person on a deep level. I have noticed through working with couples that usually after about 5 years together, this connection starts to wane. After about 5 years together most couples spend much more time on the business part of their relationship than on the heart part. I often delineate these two parts of our relationship as “neck-up” versus “neck-down.” The “neck-up” part includes business such as money, kids, home, work, and schedules. We need to coordinate with one another to figure out who is doing what and when and how they are doing it.

For example, for many years my husband would leave for work about 5 minutes after I got home from work. In that 5 minutes we had a fast download so that he could tell me which of our kids were fed, bathed, rested, and who needed to go where. He would tell me if anything happened that day that I needed to know about. And then with a kiss he would be gone. When he got home I would give him the update of what happened while he was gone so that he would know for the morning when I would be gone. Although this “neck-up” business is extremely important to keep the household functional, it ignores the heart. The heart is part of the “neck-down” business that can easily be ignored if we’re not being careful and conscious to attend to it. Our hearts hold our love, our dreams, our passion, and our spirit. This is the essence of who we are and how we feel in our lives. Our hearts are usually only deeply shared with a few people on this earth. Our hearts take time and attention to open up and be seen. And we have to feel safe to allow them to open. How do we create space for this time and attention to our hearts when the “busy-ness” and “business” of life can be so dominant?

The answer to this question is what I work on with my clients whether they are individuals or couples. Before any of us can share our hearts with our partners we need to know them deeply ourselves. This also takes time and attention. When our hearts are ignored, we feel it. I watch my individual clients feeling depressed or anxious when they are not paying attention to their hearts. I notice that couples will stop making eye-contact with one another or they will stop making time to be alone together when their hearts are being ignored. The eyes have been called the “windows to the soul” and I believe this is the case. I believe that we often need to close our eyes when we are trying to connect to our own hearts because the outside world can be so distracting. Try it. Close your eyes and sit for a few minutes with your heart. What does your heart tell you? Is there something that feels heavy on your heart that you need to address? If there are resentments and pain in your relationship, they will weigh heavily on your heart and it will make this exercise more difficult. I work with individuals and couples to help them learn from and transform the heaviness. I believe that we all want to be happy and in love in our lives. I believe that there are lessons to learn from the heaviness that can teach us things in our lives that we need to learn. I believe that partnership has great potential to help us heal pain and patterns from the past that no longer serve us if we remember to stay connected to our hearts. When we put all of our attention on the “neck-up” business of life, our hearts suffer.

I think that marriage or long-term relationships get a bad rap in our culture. People assume that relationships deteriorate over time and that drifting apart from one’s partner is normal. I don’t agree! I think that our relationships can remain connected and loving no matter how long we have been together. Sometimes we just need some help along the way.

Some of the issues that I help couples navigate are:

Communication
Resentments
Transparency
Parenting
Blended Family Issues
Setting new intentions/agreements/vows
Affairs
Sexual Disconnection
Premarital counseling

Get In Touch

Contact me if there is a heaviness in your relationship that you want to resolve. Even if your issue is not represented in this limited list, I can probably still help. Consider scheduling a therapy appointment or check out the events page. My husband and I teach classes together that are focused on improving and healing relationships. I am honored to assist you in this important work.

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