Do you and your partner have the same fights over and over again? Do you leave feeling confused and misunderstood at the end of each argument? If either of these sound like you, chances are you and your partner are in a holding pattern and couples counselling can be a safe place to resolve it.
According to the Developmental Model, partners get stuck when they reach a developmental impasse. Like the developmental stages children naturally progress through, adult romantic relationships go through a series of stages as part of healthy development. And with this article we are going to go through these stages.
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Couples tend to get stuck after the honeymoon stage
During this initial stage a kind of temporary psychosis whereby boundaries become merged is often experienced. Similarities between partners are perceived as being more prevalent than their differences. This period is generally blissful but short-lived. Partners will often experience disappointment and disillusionment once they start to see their partner as different and incapable of meeting all of their initial expectations.
What happens after?
In an attempt to recover their earlier feelings of bliss, couples will often attempt to re-create the experience of being in the honeymoon phase. Couples will often try to change their relationship back to the the way it was at the very beginning, or end the relationship in the hopes of finding bliss with someone else.
When couples are able to work through or accept their differences they can experience immense individual and interpersonal growth. It is the couples who come into relationships with a growth mindset that are best able to move past their initial disappointment and come to know themselves and each other at a much deeper level than was ever possible in the honeymoon stage.
In contrast, couples who don’t move past their initial disillusionment can end up stuck. Their attempts to go back to the way things were at the beginning only ends up disappointing them further and causes more distress. These tend to be the couples who show up in my office for couples counselling, fighting over their differences or avoiding them altogether.
How therapy can help
Couples who get stuck early on but who don’t seek professional help tend to fizzle or burn out. Luckily, couples who realize they’re stuck who come to couples counselling to work on becoming unstuck have a much higher likelihood of staying together. Having a safe platform to explore issues can lead to productive conversations that help move couples forward and out of stagnation.
Couples counselling can shed light on couples issues by helping individuals in a partnership understand their own triggers as well as how they trigger each other. Couples counselling can help partners manage their individual reactions and expectations. Having a skilled counsellor can help couples figure out where they’re developmentally stuck and provide a roadmap for what to do about it.
With counselling, individuals can improve their negative ways of interacting. Individuals can learn how to communicate their wants, needs, and boundaries in a healthy way, while still remaining curious about their partner. As a result, partners should be able to better manage their emotional reactivity, take accountability for their own actions and emotions, resolve relevant issues, and develop new skills.
Have you reached an impasse in your relationship?