Relationships have undergone radical changes in recent decades. If our grandparents married as teenagers, to someone in their village or neighbouring commune, knowing they would be with that person for the rest of their lives, we have almost limitless options, thanks to dating sites and freedom of movement.
Classic stress factors like infidelity, children, financial struggle or work-related stress could lay a lot of tension onto a couple. In this condition, few relationships will survive unless both parties agree to actively take action towards taking care of their bond long term.
Esther Perel is a globally esteemed couple’s therapist. She underlines the importance of relationships on both a personal and professional level, stating that they play a role in influencing quality of life, and scientists support her claim.
One of the longest and most important studies on happiness and success shows that a stable, harmonious love and family life is the most important element in determining happiness, satisfaction, and health.
The aforementioned study conducted by Harvard over a period of 80 years, has documented both the health and personal life of 268 male students.
The study reached a conclusion that surprised the scientific world: relationships have a crucial effect on physical and mental health. Happy, healthy relationships act as a kind of antidote against mental decline, memory-affecting disorders, anxiety or depression, and are more important predictors of a long, happy life, than are factors such as social class, IQ, or genes.
Vestea bună e că România e pe locul 2 în Europa la numărul de căsătorii (7,3 la 1000 de locuitori), raportul divorțurilor, comparat cu căsătoriile e de 22%, de două ori mai mic decât media europeană.
Vestea proastă e că asta nu înseamnă că relațiile noastre sunt fericite. Violența domestică este un fenomen în creștere, în 2017 46 de femei au fost ucise de un membru al familiei, iar alte mii de femei au sesizat autoritățile pentru acte de violență împotriva lor. Iar acestea sunt doar cazurile în care victimele apelează la poliție.
What do all these statistics mean?
They suggest that family continues to be a priority for Romanians, but sadly most of them lack the knowledge and tools necessary to cultivate a healthier, longer-lasting relationship. Dissatisfaction and arguments in relationships contribute to higher levels of stress, an increase in suicidal thoughts, affecting family and friends’ relationships, and health problems, according to a 2006 study on American couples.
It seems that fixing our relationships is key to a happier, healthier life. But how would we get around to fixing them?
One of the most efficient solutions to saving or improving our relationships is seeking professional help.
Couple’s psychotherapy consists of psychotherapy sessions that both partners participate in, their frequency and duration varying depending on the case’s particularities and the therapist’s chosen method. Most often, however, most therapeutic processes require a 60 minute long session every week.
Psychotherapists are specialized in working with couples, there being a range of therapeutic training focused on relationships, like emotion focused therapy, the Gottman method, or integrative-behavioral couple’s psychotherapy. All these methods have scientifically proven efficiency.
An example of one of these scientific pieces of evidence is the result of a study on EFT. It showed that this particular type of therapy has a success rate of 50% by the end of the therapeutic process. 70% of couples considered themselves “made up” within 3 months of ending therapy. Partners mentioned an increase in happiness, satisfaction, and intimacy.
The psychotherapist will:
- Create a space in which each member will feel secure in sharing their difficulties, dissatisfactions; they will ensure confidentiality.
- Ensure no one is criticized or accused.
- Guide each member towards reclaiming their role and place in their family.
- Use each member’s resources and initiatives in their healing process.
- Encourage each member to share their thoughts and feelings in relation to difficulties showing up.
Psychotherapy sessions take place weekly. Each session lasts 50 minutes.
For maximum efficiency, participation of every member within the ensemble established at the beginning of the therapeutic process is necessary.
Change within psychotherapy is an immensely complex process, that springs from the complex interactions of human experiences.
How does a couple’s psychotherapy session go?
Couple’s psychotherapy – No matter the psychotherapist’s training, the therapeutic process begins by:
- Getting to know the two partners
- Finding out relevant information about their history together
- Finding the reason why they opted for counselling
- Observing the interactions between the two
Treatment looks different depending on the various forms of psychotherapy. Each of these forms’ main principle, however, is replacing destructive behavior with healthy behavior, and learning to understand their partner’s needs, so they can be satisfied.
The therapist isn’t just a witness to the couple’s discussions. They have an active role in session time: they ask questions, make observations on their interactions, intervene when deemed necessary, and offer advice.
When should I seek couple’s psychotherapy?
One of the greatest errors made is waiting too long. A study conducted by Gottman discovered that couples wait an average of 6 years before reaching out for a professional for solving their marital problems.
“Sadly, there is a point of no return. Same as when talking about physical conditions, detecting and preventing the problems ahead of time is essential to a successful treatment. These aspects are specified to our clients. If one of the partners truly does not wish to reconcile or fix the relationship any longer, or if there is too much resentment at play, chances of success are low.” Declares Bogdan SOCEANU, family and couple’s therapist within the Hope Clinic.
Make sure you act before it’s too late!
The reluctance of many people is related to letting a stranger intrude the intimacy of a couple. We talk to family or friends about our most intimate problems, and often ask them for advice. Although they only know our version of events and may not even know our partner very well. Generally, we are hesitant to reach out to a person specialized in couples, with years of experience behind them.
The environment a couple’s therapist builds is:
- Judgement-free: Therapists have no preconceptions of either client, as they didn’t know any beforehand
- Impartial: Where both partners are on equal footing. Therapists have no separate relationship with either partner, so they won’t treat them any differently
Additionally, many people believe they instinctively know how to take care of their relationships. Since our parents or grandparents managed without therapy, we will too. Relationships, however, have changed. Esther Perel mentions that relationships are no longer survival based, but rather, they are much deeper, delving into satisfying needs of romance, or even spirituality.
We expect our partner to be our best friend, the parent to our children, our sexual partner, and maybe even business partner. Spouses ended up filling countless roles, but they don’t include instruction manuals, so it’s perfectly expectable to need guidance and help to learn how to navigate the complexity of these multilateral elements of contemporary relationships.