Our most intimate relationships are the sites for our biggest joys and most complicated struggles as human beings are wired for attachement, making love literally a life or death issue. Every couple needs support at one time or another be it in the wake of an infidelity, the birth of a child, ongoing arguments, or in preparation for the next step of moving in together, getting married, having a child, or separating.
People do not enter into relationship as blank slates. We all have emotional patterns and after the glow of falling in love transitions to something longer term, our patterns emerge. Part of the comfort and joy of intimacy is the comfort of knowing your partner, but habits can also be irritating or even damaging. Having the courage to pay attention to what comes up for you when times get tough and make changes to make things better for the person you love is key to keeping a fulfilled relationship.
Once you've identified what is going on for you within the relationship, you're halfway there. The other key part of couples work is being able to communicate your experience of vulnerability effectively, with honesty and compassion. This again takes bravery, as well as a willingness to hear the same from your partner without defensiveness. Therapy is a place to practice this process until it is natural at home.
Humans have two competing brain systems: one for attachment (feeling unconditionally accepted, safe, connected, structured, predictable) and one for desire (seeking novelty, risk, unknown). Desire sometimes leads us to attachment, but desire does not then shrivel on the vine. If you come from a family or society that did not give you the tools for talking openly about sexuality, one of our most tender and vulnerable arenas, your couplehood could get stuck into dissatisfying habits. In therapy we'll talk about the barriers to these kinds of conversations and then start new ones.