Do you ever think about going to couples therapy?
Did you know: systemic pressures and influences are impacting people daily. Cultural, societal, relational, and individual pressures are negatively impacting collective and individual well-being. These impacts are making it harder for folks to cope and thrive; which can trickle down to different parts of life, including sex and intimacy. Research has found that sex and intimacy has decreased in our culture, and people are reporting significantly lower rates of sexual activity (Willingham, 2022). Researchers are still exploring why this is, but some believe it is connected to increased collective depression, clearer identities for folks such as asexuality, decreased connection within relationships, and increased stimulation through media. It is important to remember that it is absolutely okay to be experiencing this; and if you are looking to increase connection with your sexual identity, individual or couples therapy will help!
It is common for folks in relationships to notice a decrease in satisfaction regarding sex and intimacy, trust and security, and communication. That is why couples therapy is a great starting point to explore these topics with your partner in a safe and open space. People start couples therapy for a variety of reasons; and when and how they start looks different for everyone. If you are noticing that you are having a hard time connecting with your partner, communicating with your partner, listening or understanding your partner; couples therapy would benefit you.
Conflict and miscommunication in relationships can arise in a variety of ways. Whether it is tension over shared household chores, unmet needs, not being heard, or decreased intimacy; we see it all within relationships. However, there are common patterns that couples can fall into around these miscommunications, including the pursue-withdraw pattern. This pattern is a reciprocal process where one partner is the pursuer, or the person wanting more closeness and connection, and one partner is the withdrawer, or the person shutting down and pulling away. This is a common pattern seen within couples that connects to unmet needs of connection and attachment to your partner. When you can identify, learn, and understand the relational pattern you have with your partner, then you can start to turn towards more effective ways of communication, healing, and relational growth.
There are a multitude of frameworks to help couples activate change. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is an evidence based framework that focuses on the bonds, processes, and patterns that are typically found in relationships. EFT is an experiential approach to therapy and focuses on how people experience their relationship, how individuals put together their emotional experience, and how they express these emotions through communication (Johnson, 2012). EFT helps couples create a better understanding of patterns in their relationship, how they can get stuck, and how to ultimately shift these patterns for longer term connection. Couples therapy provides an opportunity to explore your own relational pattern to create more awareness of how you, and your partner, are showing up within a relational context. When we do this, we can learn to better understand ourselves and our partner in order to create a deeper connection and relationship.
So, what do you think? Are we there yet?
Written By: Lindsay Huckaba, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Kick off your connected sex with In Tune, our card game for couples by Therapists.
Other Helpful Resources:
Johnson, S. M. (2012). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection. Routledge. The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection
Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. Little, Brown Spark. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love