Love is a Language: Couples Therapy

What is the language of love? For the male peacock, it takes a dance displaying beautiful feathers. A male elephant must prepare for a game of cat and mouse; better known as catch my spouse. In the deep blue, male dolphins set the tone using physical displays of affection and suave courtship. Lovebird is a term coined from scientific observations of a colorful parrot native to Madagascar. The partnerships within these species place value on displaying effective messages, fondness, and maintaining bliss. While the animal kingdom has an array of unique mating rituals the commonality is communication

The layers of intimacy are transmissions of verbal and non-verbal messages. Starting with the powerful joys of the honeymoon stage (limerence), companionship matures in the efforts of building a foundation of trust and commitment. However, there’s no formal rule book for the maintenance of a romantic partnership. This then means the “lovebird” phase is temporary and the continuance of the relationship’s livelihood directs the unity

Couple’s Chaos? Couples therapy is beneficial for all types of relationships (straight, gay, interracial, young teen, etc.) and critical for all stages (dating, engaged, or married). A natural drift occurs over the span of a couple’s commitment. From playful first-date conversations to distress due to criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (Gottman’s Four Horsemen). These are red flags signaling the need for romance recharge.

Is love lost? It might feel so at times, but even the best astronauts need assistance from ground control. Couples Therapy is a source of guidance in the upkeep of a healthy relationship. Couples counseling is often supported by several therapeutic modalities, to name a few, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), and Gottman’s Method. Although we have this inert ability to problem solve, a licensed professional may be able to…

  • Provide guidance towards conflict intent (identify a specific problem). 
  • Treat the relationship as a whole; shifting blaming and other dysfunctional mechanisms away from intimacy
  • Provide future-focused, change-oriented interventions
  • Support reflection of the union’s goals

Where do we start? To start. Set the tone of delivery. What does that mean? It means being mindful of your partner’s emotions as you introduce the idea of Couples Therapy. Start the practice of active listening. Be attentive to your companion’s worries and hesitations. Reassure your partner that their perspective and participation are crucial in the process from start to end. 

What will Couples therapy look like? Don’t worry it won’t be as daunting as a game of truth or dare. Instead, there will be an initial session, which may feel like a cross between an interview and first date jitters. The therapist will inquire about details of the history of the relationship. Then lead to a dive into each partner’s family of origin, values, and cultural background. Remember the therapist’s job is to ensure the well-being of everyone. This speaks to the first session frequently being used to determine a crisis and intervene if necessary. 

Secondly, as a couple, there will be a process of collaboration with the therapist. To begin the journey towards therapeutic success, the first few sessions will be used to identify the relationship dilemma(s) and a discussion of the structure for treatment. The legwork in the midst of treatment will entail the therapist counseling the couple towards a focus of healing, relational dynamics, identifying problem triggers, and improving communication. 

Why does seeking Couples Therapy feel so dramatic? Unlike a theatrical performance, there’s no rehearsal to perfect intimacy. The “fear of the unknown” pushes worry of judgment, accountability, and other distressing thoughts forward. Couples Therapy is similar to other domains of mental wellness. Counseling a partnership builds personal growth, relational success, and allows reflection of family origin. Nonetheless, there is validity around naturally exuding defensiveness and avoidance. The elephant in the room is most likely more complex than a single episode of distress. And rather like a closet opened and its many items rapidly falling out; making a pile of unorganized mess. This is the difficulty of Couples Therapy, sorting through the communication issues, affairs, emotional distance, trauma, etc.  

So, what are the benefits? Good question – Therapy in itself takes two to Tango! Therapist’s approach to the situation and the partnership’s motive. By establishing goals as a union, the benefit begins as an initiation towards a common purpose. With genuine work, internally and externally, the relationship can thrive. Specifically, profits of couples counseling include, but are certainly not limited to… 

  • Embracing a neutral third party (therapist) in your system of companionship. This sets grounding in the idea of collaboration. 
  • Discovering primary emotions, major points of discrepancy. Couples therapy brings the benefit of creating a better understanding. 
  • Safe Space, using couples counseling to encourage better acceptance of different ideas, thoughts, and emotions. Develops a secure environment and opportunity to heal. 
  • Restoration of emotional and physical intimacy. In couples counseling, regaining the ability to be embraced in your partner’s personal space, welcomes the warmth of affection. Couples therapy can reinvent the love and joy of being in a partnership. 

Research conducted by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy concludes 98% of clients report therapy services as good or excellent. Furthermore, 93% of couples provided feedback that couples therapy offers guidance in effectively dealing with conflict.  

When was the last time you felt like the words exciting, and adventurous best described your relationship? Perhaps the term “honeymoon” phase comes to mind. However, the real adventure is the journey of sustainability. It starts by communicating to your partner, your emotional needs (tapping into your primary emotions). Remember it helps to start the therapeutic journey with an open mind, open heart, and open arms.

“Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies, old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls. We are weaned from our timidity. In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave.  And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free”. 

– Maya Angelo

So, the foundation of your relationship may have faulty cracks; miscommunication, emotional disconnect, absence of physical intimacy, and other challenges withholding the relationship’s potential. There’s no better time than today to acquire the tools needed to renew the beauty of an intimate partnership. 

Whether it’s for preventative measures or needing assistance around relationship crisis, make an appointment with us through our website or by calling (443) 574-4295. Roses are red, Violets are blue, reach out to Milestones so we can help you! 

Shaneka Campbell, LMFTA

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