As couples we encounter many challenges and transitions, such as marriage, establishing a home, parenthood, coping with work and money pressures, aging, and retirement. Along the way, we inevitably experience misunderstanding, doubt and conflict, and sometimes crises around betrayal, infertility or divorce. Couple therapy can improve communication, break negative couple dynamics, increase understanding and negotiate life transitions. In some cases, short-term, goal-oriented couple therapy is most effective. In others, long-term couple therapy will delve more deeply into the underlying emotional source of the problem.
Couple therapy for young or new couples
The decision to make a long-term commitment may be accompanied by uncertainty, fear or pressure from partners or family. The understanding that one’s relationship is deepening can bring problems to the surface such as fear of intimacy, fear of abandonment, or losing control. The decision to marry leads to the involvement of extended family and forces a couple to begin establishing new boundaries. What may have been a relatively stress-free relationship can suddenly feel much more complicated and conflicted. Many couples are hesitant to turn to couple counseling in the early stages of a relationship seeing it as a failure on their part. In fact, therapy helps couples help themselves by increasing understanding, improving communication and overall strengthening the foundation of the relationship.
Coping with infertility treatment
Many couples undergo infertility treatment with relatively little difficulty. However, for others, infertility may turn into a profound couple crisis. In fact, many maintain that it was the most upsetting time of their lives. The process of infertility treatment can be an emotional roller coaster alternating between feelings of hope and despair. Each round of treatment brings new hope, and in many cases, loss. Couples experience feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation and helplessness. Although this difficult period eventually passes, what remains is the imprint of how the couple coped and related to one another. Counseling can help couples navigate this difficult period by processing feelings, improving communication and mobilizing emotional support.
For more information see this article (in Hebrew) – Struggling with Infertility
Adjusting to parenthood and parenting skills
Entering into parenthood is a significant transition for a couple. Both partners will have to readjust, as what was previously a couple dynamic now becomes a family dynamic. Children will take center stage and precious resources such as time and attention will be stretched thin. Partners will need to renegotiate boundaries with extended family. In couple counseling, partners can evaluate their own parenting approach and skills. Issues such as over-anxious parenting, over or under protecting children, a discordant parenting approach, and too much or too little structure or discipline can all impact children’s development, sense of self, and ability to establish and maintain relationships in the future. Therapy can help couples appreciate each others unique parenting qualities, improve parenting skills, create appropriate boundaries and establish a unified approach to guiding, disciplining and protecting their children.
Communication problems and improving communication skills
When a couple experiences a breakdown in communication, they may disengage, become entrenched in their positions, and reach an emotional deadlock. Each may start thinking in terms of “me versus you” rather than as a unified “we”. Faulty communication and unresolved conflicts create chronic negative feelings that can erode the foundation of the relationship. Therapy helps couples create a unified perspective, identify problematic behavior and improve communication skills.
Fear of Intimacy
Most of us would say we want to experience more intimacy in our relationship. However, getting closer means dropping our guard, being authentic, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and sometimes getting hurt. Moreover, being intimate means merging our own complex personality with our partner, while maintaining our own wants, needs, and sense of self. Sometimes, partners become emotionally enmeshed, suffocating one another and losing their sense of self in return for a sense of emotional security. At the other extreme, partners may wall themselves off to maintain a safe distance at the price of closeness and warmth. In counseling, couples can examine their fears and hopes around intimacy, identify areas of emotional dependence and create a “couple space” while maintaining each partner’s sense of self.
Problematic couple dynamics
We all play different roles at different times with our partners. There may be moments when we need our partner to adopt the role of teacher, parent, or even savior. Roles can be part of a healthy dynamic as long as a relationship of equals is maintained. However, when the roles become rigid and entrenched, they can cause significant damage to a relationship. Some common couple roles are employer-employee, teacher-student, pursuer-pursued, brother-sister, business partners, caretaker-patient or warden-prisoner. Therapy can enable partners to become more conscious of problematic dynamics, help one another shed unwanted roles and create a more balanced relationship.
Marriage counseling following infidelity
There are many kinds of breaches of trust in relationships such as lying, humiliation, or emotional abandonment. However, infidelity can be especially painful. After the discovery of an affair, there may be feelings of disbelief, betrayal, fear, jealousy or rage. The betrayed partner may experience traumatic reactions such as shock, intrusive thoughts, suspicion, anxiety or depression. Counseling can offer a safe environment in which to process both partners’ feelings, understand the context of the crisis, and determine if, or how, to rebuild.
Couple therapy for sexual problems and sexual dysfunction
Emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, couple conflict, infertility, fear of intimacy, or loss of control will often adversely affect a couple’s sex life. Any of these may lead to sexual problems such as low desire, erectile dysfunction, delayed or rapid ejaculation, pain during intercourse, or inability to orgasm. Conversely, sexual dysfunction, no matter the source, can negatively affect all aspects of the relationship. Sex therapy, can identify the root of the problem, assess the emotional impact, and help the couple to overcome the issue.
Counseling for couples considering divorce
Regrettably, many couples only turn to therapy when they reach the edge of the abyss. Even a couple with good relationship potential may fall into a problematic dynamic, which intensifies despite their best efforts. In such cases a therapist’s intervention can provide a safe environment wherein a couple can calmly process their feelings and make sense of a confusing and disturbing situation. Therapy can help partners decide what is best for them, be it rebuilding the relationship or parting ways as amicably as possible.
Choosing a couple therapist in the Haifa area, North Israel
The first step in choosing a therapist is to find someone who is caring, professional, and certified. But beyond that, one should feel a sense of comfort and trust in their presence. I treat a variety of individuals and couples from various communities, including secular, religious, Jewish, Muslim, Druze, Christian and LGBT.