When you think about it, there comes a point in every couple's relationship when one partner needs a break or wants to focus on himself or herself. This sudden change can leave the other partner feeling emotionally abandoned, even if temporarily, and perhaps resentful of the other partner's recent behavior. There could be many reasons why a relationship might take a break, such as the following:
- There is something missing from the couple's communication pattern.
- At least one person in the relationship wants some time alone.
- At least one person in the relationship is struggling with other issues and not wanting to discuss them.
- One or both partners are now home due to retirement.
- One partner has a serious mental health problem (such as substance abuse) or a new illness that limits his or her functions.
Try Not to Panic
If relationship problems are normal as we age, then a sudden change in behavior or the need for space could manifest at any time in your relationship. You grow and change and adjust to varying activity levels differently. Outside influences can also create stress in your relationship, such as having to raise grandchildren. If one or both of you reach a breaking point, regardless of the cause, it could be time to consider couples therapy. When you counsel with Mary Shull about issues in your relationship, you may begin to see that things are fixable. There may be some work to do together and some work to do on your own, but the goal is to strengthen your relationship.
How Couples Therapy Differs from Other Therapies
Couples therapy is different than group therapy or one-on-one therapy. Group therapy is designed for up to 15 people who share mental health concerns, and it's typically led by a psychologist. One-on-one therapy focuses on the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with which one patient struggles. A therapist can listen to problems and help a patient learn appropriate coping strategies. In couples therapy, a therapist will work on goals that bring the couple closer together, such as confronting problems that could destroy their relationship. Therapy goals vary from couple to couple depending on where they're at in life and which coping mechanisms they know. For example, one partner might be diagnosed with breast cancer and suddenly have trouble dealing with her sexuality and changed health. This is something with which a therapist could help.
Why Get Couples Therapy from a Counselor
The truth is that couples of any age can benefit from therapy. Young couples may need to define their domestic roles, including finding mutually acceptable parenting styles and work schedules. Older couples may change their roles if one person develops an illness or physical disability or even if other people (i.e. their adult children or grandchildren) return to their home. Any shifts in roles can create friction, and new behaviors can threaten the relationship. Any major change in your relationship could present a good time to sit down in therapy with Mary Shull. She understands that you can only do so much by talking together, but, with a third party, you can learn to listen to each other again and find solutions.
Couples Therapy Can Help
Once you get into therapy, Mary will explore the roles you and your partner typically perform and how these might have changed due to recent developments in the relationship. She can also learn about your personalities and preferred communication styles. Then, she can help you choose goals for couples therapy, addressing those issues first that you both believe are critical. If there are other issues that you want to work through individually, Mary can meet with you and discuss those until you feel able to manage them on your own.