Pre-Marital Therapy & Couples Counseling

What causes problems for couples?

Romantic partnerships tend to begin on a positive note. We all remember the warm fuzzy feeling on that first date, that first kiss. Over time, couples tend to experience changes in the relationship – sometimes positive, sometimes less so.

Sometimes the concern is that the “spark” is gone. Sometimes a couple feels like they just keep missing each other, which results in feeling disconnected, distant, and a couple fighting more frequently than they used to. Other times, a couple may be stuck at the crossroads of a major life decision. Or, they may have taken on stress from other family members or situations, and this is now weighing heavy on both partners. Regardless of what is happening, there is concern and a desire to improve the dynamic. Therefore, each partnership deserves a tailored approach specific to what is happening in the relationship.

Many couples struggle with issues such as:

Infidelity
Loss of trust
Anger or hurt
Communication
Difficulty expressing needs
Harassment or bullying
Major life decisions
Having children
Where to live
Whether to return to school
Family issues
Sex and intimacy

One of the most important dynamics in relationships has to do with intimacy and mystery. Esther Perel, a psychotherapist and expert of human relationships and sexuality, sees romantic relationships through the idea of paradox. While many of us crave stability and security in our relationships, we also hope for excitement. She argues, “The challenge for modern couples lies in reconciling the need for what’s safe and predictable with the wish to pursue what’s exciting, mysterious, and awe-inspiring.” This is the dynamic that many times shows up with couples: we become increasingly secure, and increasingly bored. It becomes easy to fall into patterns, to go through the motions in our own intimate relationships. Remaining aloof and distant, however, can threaten that same stable relationship we so desire. The key, then, is to maintain a healthy balance, and couples therapy is the ideal place to learn how to do so.

Couples therapy can be the most beautiful and challenging process. The process requires people to get to know themselves better, recognize the assumptions and patterns implicit in the relationship, and turn toward their partner to work together.

If you and your partner struggle with intimacy, trust, or communication, I want to help.

What is premarital therapy?

If you and your partner are considering marriage, premarital therapy can help ease your transition and prepare you for a long-lasting union.

Premarital therapy is all about providing a safe haven to process, prepare, and be excited about your marriage. Research has consistently shown that premarital counseling can positively impact the relationship and prepare the couple for the stressors that come with marriage (Carrol & Doherty, 2003).

Common issues that come up in premarital therapy might include:
– Worries about trust or commitment
– Expectations regarding sex and intimacy
– Ability to manage and cope with stress
– Family dynamics
– Differences in religion or political views
– Apprehension regarding marriage
– Previous relationships or divorce
– Major life decisions

In many ways, premarital therapy and couples therapy are very similar! Couples therapists tend to use the same process of identifying communication and attachment issues that may cause distress in the relationship.

If you or your partner are struggling with your relationship, do not wait. Contact me today to schedule your first session and begin to move forward again.

How can couples therapy help?

Couples who are motivated to improve the relationship can benefit from treatment (Lundblad & Hansson, 2006). Psychotherapy is the first line of treatment for families and couples who are looking to enhance their connections and move past the dysfunction (Shadish et al, 1995). As you meet together with a counselor, you will learn how to communicate well, identify disruptive patterns, and work better as a unit. The psychotherapist works hard to help everyone feel supported by maintaining a non-judgmental stance and prioritizing safety and healing.

Some examples of how relationships improve through therapy include:
– Enhanced relationship satisfaction
– Decreased emotional reactivity
– Feeling safe together
– Improved communication styles
– Greater sense of cohesion and unity

Do not wait to rebuild your relationships. Let me help!

My name is Elizabeth Anderson, MFA, LMFT, and I am here for you. I am proud to bring my training by Terry Real (RLT Therapy), and Esther Perel, two of the leading names in couples’ therapy and relationships, into my work. Currently, I am receiving further training in Relational Life Therapy, which helps couples resolve conflict and develop intimacy in relationships. I also rely heavily on mindfulness, relaxation, and emotional regulation in my clinical work. I work hard to stay on top of the most current research, particularly neuroscience, to provide the best help possible for my patients. My office is in Pasedena, California, but I also see people from all over the Los Angeles county area. I can easily be reached to set up a session through phone or email, check out the Contact Me page to learn more!

Sometimes, couples find it helpful to do some reading in addition to therapy. Below are some recommended books to augment couples therapy sessions.

Recommended Reading:
• Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, by Esther Perel
• The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, by Esther Perel
• The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work, by Terrence Real
• How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women, by Terrence Real
• Come As You Are, by Emily Nagoski, PhD
• The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You To the Love You Want, by Robyn D. Walser, PhD, and Darrah Westrup, PhD
• Mindful Relationship Habits: 25 Practices for Couples to Enhance Intimacy, Nurture Closeness, and Grow a Deeper Connection, by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport

References

Carroll, J. S., & Doherty, W. J. (2003). Evaluating the effectiveness of premarital prevention programs: A meta‐analytic review of outcome research. Family Relations, 52(2), 105-118.

Lundblad, A. M., & Hansson, K. (2006). Couples therapy: effectiveness of treatment and long‐term follow‐up. Journal of family therapy, 28(2), 136-152.

Shadish, W. R., Ragsdale, K., Glaser, R. R., & Montgomery, L. M. (1995). The efficacy and effectiveness of marital and family therapy: A perspective from meta‐analysis. Journal of marital and Family Therapy, 21(4), 345-360.