• Jason Wilkinson

Tired of the Fighting? How Marriage Counseling/Couples Therapy Can Improve Your Relationship



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We would all love to live in a world without conflict. Especially in the relationships that matter most to us. Wouldn’t it be great if we could cruise through life with our marriages and romantic relationships going smoothly?


Unfortunately, most of our most meaningful relationships need a lot of work and effort for them to be healthy.


And one of those basic but important steps to having a long lasting relationship is to learn to fight well.


So, here are a few ways marriage counseling or couples therapy can help you to improve your communication and work through conflict.


What Is There to Gain from Couples Counseling in Tualatin and Portland?


There's a lot to gain from couples counseling or marriage therapy. The biggest one has to do with greater emotional intimacy. You want to feel close to your partner or your spouse. And, you want to feel close to the person that you want to spend your life with.


It's not fun coming home at the end of a hard day to say hello to a spouse or partner where the relationship feels much more like a roommate. Actually, it can feel quite deflating.


Marriage counseling or couples therapy can help you feel like you're on the same team again. That you can be close and share vulnerable topics with each other. That there is hope for your relationship.


Another thing that individuals get from marriage counseling and couples therapy in Portland and Tualatin together is a decrease in conflict. Couples can learn to improve communication. Additionally, couples can learn how their cycle of conflict clicked is born out of pain that they are carrying. And once they learn how that cycle or pattern of conflict is initiated, a couple can do something to change it.


Communication Skills Couples Will Learn in Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy


Communication can often be the most difficult thing for couples to do successfully in relationships. In fact, many couples come into counseling stating that communication is a major weakness. Marriage counseling or couples therapy can turn that weakness of communication into a strength. Improvement in communication can lead to a huge increase of satisfaction within relationship.


Have you ever been in a situation where your partner or spouse says something to you, and you immediately become angry? Or perhaps you say something to your partner or spouse, and they become defensive from the start? And how many times are we even thinking about a rebuttal or argument to make while our spouse or partner is trying to finish their sentence?


The truth is that couples spiral, and they spiral quickly when becoming emotionally dysregulated. And the couple becomes more emotionally dysregulated when communication goes poorly.


The tools of active listening and “I statements” can help to intentionally slow a couple down in their communication. And these are great tools that can be strengthened in marriage counseling or couples therapy.


Active Listening


Active listening skills are very well known and very underutilized at the same time. Many people have been trained in or at least educated in active listening skills through school, or their workplace, or by reading about it. But very few people use them.


And I get it. It feels awkward. Using active listening skills feels clunky or unnatural when trying to have a conversation.


But that’s one of the strengths of active listening. It forces a couple in conflict to slow down & hear what is being said by the other person.


Active listening skills can be huge for a successful marriage or relationship. And when practiced buy a couple when a marriage counselor is present can help lead to a more natural flow in active listening use.


“I Statements”


“I Statements” can be great in helping to promote team. When we use the word “You” in a sentence, it tends to be oppositional or blaming.


“You always do this”. “It's your fault.” “You made me feel this way.”


It's clear that using the word “You” can immediately put your spouse or partner in a defensive position. It's a way to attack the other person through our words.


Using the word “I” in our sentences can helped to communicate our emotions without blaming the other person.

I feel alone when left here with the kids by myself,” Or “I feel uncared for when I don't hear from you during the day.”


The goal in any relationship is to communicate “team.” You want your spouse or partner to know that you're for them. And, you want good things for your spouse or partner. And you want your spouse or partner to know how you are feeling when things are going poorly.


The Importance of "I" Statements


“I Statements” can provide you with the opportunity to have greater success to communicate what you're feeling, without using the blaming “You.”


Like active listening, using “I Statements” can feel clunky and slow. It may feel contrived. That's okay. The goal is to slow down your communication so that you can be more intentional with what you want to say.


Online marriage counseling or couples therapy in Portland, Tualatin, and Lake Oswego can help you to learn and practice this communication skill. And one day it may become more natural.


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Emotional Self-Regulation is Part of a Strong Relationship


Taking responsibility and steps towards emotional self-regulation has many benefits.


Many times, we blame our spouse or our partner for the pain that we often feel. And there's lots of times that we blame our spouse or partner for our reactions.


Your partner is not responsible for your peace of mind. You are. It is not your spouse's responsibility to eradicate your feelings of anxiety or anger. That's your responsibility.


And it may feel good to cast the responsibility of our reactions on the other person. It relieves us of our responsibility for our own actions and behaviors.


Not Taking Responsibility is Disempowering.


Think about it. Most conflict increases when we become emotionally disregulated. A spouse communicates in a way that increases conflict. Or a partner walks away or withdraws from a conflict. That will typically elicit an emotional response.


The emotional response can often be an automatic reaction. Before you even know it, you may start becoming angry and yelling at your spouse. Or you become frustrated or anxious that your partner just walked away without saying anything to you. The conflict increases or spirals Before you know it, you're in a predictable cycle of conflict that you know pretty well. It feels like “old hat.” It's familiar.


Self-Responsibility Makes the Best Relationships


When a person is able to self-regulate their emotions that person can choose what action they want to take. That person can choose how they want to communicate inside of the conflict. And, that person can choose who they want to be inside of the relationship.


It is empowering in a relationship to know that I am responsible for how I treat my spouse or my partner in the relationship. Plus, I am responsible for how my day goes. My spouse or my partner does not have power over my behaviors. Or my actions, or my responsibilities.


Having power over our emotions and behaviors is empowering. In fact, it may be the only thing that we truly have control over in this world.


When a couple is made up of two individuals taking responsibility for their actions, behaviors, and emotions, that's when a relationship is most healthy.


Marriage Counseling/Couples Counseling Can Help


Marriage counseling or couples therapy in Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and Portland can help both individuals learn to take responsibility for their part in communication. It can help both people learn about the pain that they feel. And where that pain originated. A couple can learn about how they interact when they are in that cycle of pain.


Marriage counseling can help individuals learn how to self-regulate their emotions so they can be their best selves inside of the relationship. The couple can learn to communicate from a place of peace rather than a place of pain.


Conflict is going to happen. It is unavoidable, and it is natural. But imagine having a conversation about a conflict from a place of emotional peace rather than a place of emotional pain.


Imagine the words that a person might use when knowing they are safe rather than feeling that they are unsafe in a relationship. The level of tension would be totally different. And, the tone of voice would be different. The oppositional nature of the conversation would be different.


A couple is most likely able to talk to each other with greater clarity and be more vulnerable in sending and receiving messages.


That is what strong relationships are built on.


What Will Couples Need for Success in Marriage or Couples Counseling?


As great as marriage counseling or couples therapy can be, it’s not a magic elixir that will make all trouble & conflict disappear.


There are no guarantees in online therapy in Oregon. But there are a few important steps that a couple can take that will dramatically impact the level of success that can be had in therapy.


Commitment to Online Therapy in Oregon


Couples can come in with low trust. Marriages can be struggling with communication. These are all things that can get worked on and figured out in counseling.


But what a marriage counselor and couples therapist cannot do is help a couple work on being committed to the process of counseling.


A couple that is committed to working on their goals together will often find success through therapy. And, if a couple is really motivated to reaching goals quickly, they will be committed to practice the tools provided in therapy outside of the session.


Consistency


If a couple is looking to see amazing benefits from couples therapy, they will be consistent in their attendance.


Inconsistency in counseling will make it challenging for a couple to fully grasp or improve in the tools that they are presented to them.


A marriage counselor can help couples discover the negative patterns that are active in the relationship. A therapist will be able to challenge a couple to grow and reach for their goals.


And this works best when a couple is dedicated to showing up.


Vulnerability


Online therapy can sometimes feel risky. After all, a person is sharing some of their pain with another person.


This feeling of risk is increased when the perceived person causing stress or pain is in the room with you.


And that is where it requires both individuals to be vulnerable to one another. To be trusting and trustworthy.


Vulnerability is also required in marriage or couples counseling when trying something new. The exercises or tools suggested in therapy can feel awkward. Being vulnerable enough to try out new ways of communicating or relating to one another can bring great rewards to the health of the relationship.


A willingness to be vulnerable in front of one another when working through painful emotions and trying out new tools can go a long way towards success in marriage or couples therapy.


Does Online Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy Work?


While it may feel challenging or uncomfortable for a couple at first, online counseling can work for marriage therapy. It can be effective and may improve upon privacy if a couple values the ability to be discreet.


It may feel awkward at first for a couple to share with a therapist through a screen, but a couples therapist in Oregon can help create a lot of emotional safety that helps with sharing vulnerability & intimacy. Plus, you get to share from the comfort of your couch in your own home. The seat of your car. Or while you are on vacation visiting the Oregon coast.


The bottom line is that there is a lot of efficacy and examples of online therapy in Oregon being very valuable for couples. Especially for those couples that are incredibly busy and have a challenging time trying to figure out how to fit couples therapy or marriage counseling into their schedule.


As it is said, “A little bit of something is better than nothing at all.” Fitting counseling into the life of your marriage or relationship is better than not fitting it in at all.


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Ready to See How You Can Benefit from Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy in Tualatin, Portland, or Lake Oswego?


Chances are that couples who are looking into marriage counseling and couples therapy have been hurting for a little while. Maybe the relationship is just in need of a “tune up.”


There may be wounds from past arguments. Or a feeling that both partners have withdrawn. Perhaps a separation feels inevitable.


Whatever the case may be, counseling can help couples get back on the pathway to a peace-filled and loving relationship.


Contact Wellspace Counseling today to start that journey of building up the relationship you have always wanted.

 

Jason Wilkinson is the owner of Wellspace Counseling. Wellspace Counseling provides marriage therapy to couples for the communities of Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Portland, and throughout the state of Oregon through online therapy.


Other Services Offered at Wellspace Counseling

When you're in need of support, therapy is a great place to start. Here you will be heard and validated in a safe and secure space. Marriage counseling and couples therapy has helped many individuals seeking support. However, couples therapy isn't the only available service for you. If you're seeking more support at Wellspace Counseling in Tualatin, Portland, or Lake Oswego, then I can help! ​ Other services at my in-person and online therapy practice in Oregon include individual therapy, anxiety treatment, online therapy, counseling for professionals, Christian counseling, and teen therapy. I look forward to supporting you and your relationships in therapy. Call now to get started!