Few issues are more exciting to deal with in therapy than relationship issues. Navigating the complexities of modern life and the responsibilities that go with it can prove to be a challenge even to the most prepared members of our society. Time constraints and an ever-changing social landscape make it even more important to tackle daily adversity with a solid and coherent team approach. When the adversity of life gets to the point where someone is taking out their frustrations within the relationship, it may be time to try couples or marriage counseling.

The human being is a pretty social animal. We will seek out relationships and social contacts on a regular basis if there is no major psychological or physical fear involved. Past traumas and disappointing outcomes in previous relationships can change the way we approach love and life; at times to the point where we are involved in physical altercations or serious, self-destructive and dangerous behaviors. At certain times, we stop knowing what to do as we may not have been adequately trained to deal with it by our families of origin. There could also be times when we simply resort to the maladaptive patterns that we were taught by our parents or those who were responsible for our upbringing.

Alcoholism is a great example of this. William Glasser, MD once said that one could love an alcoholic, but not love the idea of him or her drinking. This can be seen often in the treatment setting; a loved one in crisis, drinking to excess in order to have some semblance of control over what is troubling them. However, this sense of control is an illusion. It’s much like those who mistakenly believe they can operate a motor vehicle better when intoxicated. This is simply not true and based on an alcohol-fueled, false sense of confidence.

Relationships can develop this same false sense of confidence. If things are unpleasing, but this represents the “status quo,” there is little need to change as the dynamic is “functioning.” We will seek what is comfortable; however, this does not always mean that it is physically pleasing. It is comfortable in the sense that we know what to expect, even if it is awful. Marriage and Couples Counseling can often be the venue to explore this very homeostasis and then with a coherent and directed approach, challenge this very dynamic in order to foster change and positive growth.

Dr. Sher