Conflict in intimate relationships can be very painful, especially if it is chronic and prolonged. While all couples argue and fight from time to time, some couples have the same fight (or fights) over and over again, about the same or similar issues. When this occurs, and takes the joy and comfort out of the relationship, couples counseling can often help.
At our institute we approach couples treatment with a model for healthy relationships. This model assumes that people enter into intimate relationships to get their needs met, and that they are responsible for both their own needs and those of their partner. Each person’s responsibility in getting their own needs met is to keep those needs within realistic bounds and to communicate them clearly. Each person’s responsibility for their partner’s needs is to make a good-faith effort to meet those needs when they are clear and realistic.
Our approach to individual treatment focuses on blocked emotions, cognitive distortions, and life problems, and we assess for these in couples treatment as well. While we deal with these as needed, our main focus in couples treatment, however, is on the interpersonal stances that each person prefers to take and the expectations that accompany them. Interpersonal stances, including nurturant, dependent, cooperative, dominant, and submissive stances, usually define the expectations that people bring to relationships, and most people during childhood develop strong preferences for some stances and aversions to others.
In couples counseling we teach clients to recognize their
own and their partner’s preferred stances and also the
ones that each person has difficulty adopting. We teach
the proper role and scope of each stance in a healthy relationship, and we also teach the expectations that accompany each stance.
For example, in many relationships, one partner feels that the other partner does not do enough or is emotionally distant, and the other partner feels that the first one is too demanding. Such problems often have to do with an imbalance of the nurturant and dependent stances. One partner may have dependency needs activated too often or too strongly and unrealistically, or the other may be insufficiently nurturant, or both problems may be present. What we do is teach both partners to monitor their needs and impulses, and to try to replace the problem behaviors of demand and withdrawal with clear communication in the moment, and an honest attempt to balance their own desires with those of their partner.
Of course that is just one example, and relationships are so complex that problems within them can take many forms. Love may not conquer all, but love and wisdom together are powerful. If you and your partner love each other but constantly fight with each other, then we are here to help provide you with wisdom.
Thomas B. Hollenbach, Ph.D.
For those seeking marriage counseling or couples therapy, the Integrative Therapy Institute of New Jersey has two offices, one in Metuchen in Middlesex County, and the other in Montclair in Essex County. Our Metuchen office is convenient to the Middlesex County towns of Edison, Woodbridge, South Plainfield, Piscataway, Highland Park, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Sayreville, Dunellen, and Middlesex. For residents of Union County, the Metuchen office is near to the towns of Scotch Plains, Clark, Westfield, Plainfield, Garwood, and Fanwood. For residents of Somerset County we are near to the towns of North Plainfield, Green Brook, Bound Brook, South Bound Brook, Bridgewater, and Franklin, New Jersey.
Our Montclair office is convenient to the Essex County towns of Glen Ridge, Cedar Grove, Verona, Essex Fells, Bloomfield, Nutley, Caldwell, North Caldwell, and West Caldwell. Slightly farther away are Fairfield, Roseland, Livingston, Milburn, Orange, East Orange, and South Orange. For residents of Passaic County, we are near to the towns of Clifton, Little Falls, Woodland Park, and Totowa, New Jersey.
Integrative Therapy Institute of New Jersey, LLC • Copyright © 2013-2018 • Administrative Office in Metuchen, New Jersey