Everyone knows what it feels like to be sad, mad, scared, excited, and joyful, right? Wrong! Most think they do, and that’s the problem. They THINK about their emotions rather than FEEL them. This is a leading cause of relationship issues. People who are out of touch with their feelings have difficulty saying what they mean and meaning what they say. This is where relationship counseling, especially for married couples, comes into play.
Are you struggling to express your emotions and communicate effectively with your partner? If so, you’re not alone. Many couples find themselves in a similar situation, dealing with go-nowhere conversations, passive-aggressive patterns, and discussions that start civilly but end up highly reactive. Some even wait until issues like substance abuse and self-medicating coping strategies become impossible to ignore.
The Role of a Relationship Therapist
I am a licensed psychologist and a relationship expert, and I’ve seen it all. I’ve found that many couples with destructive communication patterns are first out of touch with their feelings and, secondly, lack the language skills to communicate effectively. They may know the feelings intellectually but fail to connect with them on a heart level. When you don’t connect with your own feelings, conversations tend to focus more on external behaviors rather than emotional states. For example, “You never pick up your dirty socks,” is parental but “I feel annoyed when I keep seeing your socks all over the floor and I would love it if you would make it a habit to throw them in the hamper” is an adult woman communication.
As professionals in the field of couples therapy and couples counseling in Los Gatos, we understand the importance of targeting core feelings such as sadness, anger, fear, excitement, love, and joy. These connections help us make informed decisions about what we want to communicate in our relationships. Yet how many partners can sit in a therapist’s office for relationship therapy and articulate the following?
“Jean, I felt hurt when you did not remember my birthday even though I brought it up two weeks ago. Somehow, I really feel devalued in our relationship, and I find myself distancing, which is not what I want.”
The Importance of Self-Reflection
That is Jack. He is a shining example of how differentiating between thinking and feeling emotions can transform relationships. Jack can self-reflect and connect with his feelings, expressing them in a way his partner, Jean, can hear. This approach helps Jack communicate more about himself than his partner’s behavior. By expressing his emotions, he’s on a path toward positive change and growth in his relationship.
The Journey to Emotional Connection
As a couples counselor in Los Gatos, I took years to cultivate the skill and capacity to identify, tolerate, and effectively express my feelings. Now, I can do it early on and efficiently. I use creative expression through poetry, journaling, art, music, and movement to access those deeper emotions. Symbols, images, and metaphors often reveal and express what the linguistic mind cannot. The ability to share in such a way has transformed my life and relationships.
Couples Counseling Techniques
In this article, I will share some essential interventions that can assist couples who are out of touch with their core feelings and lack the skills to articulate them effectively. Although the characters and dialogue are fictional, they are inspired by real clients and situations from my extensive experience in relationship therapy and marriage counseling in Los Gatos.
Let’s dive into the techniques by looking at Michelle and Mike, a couple facing common relationship problems. Michelle, with her MBA and high-paying job, and Mike, a hardworking construction worker, are dealing with issues that have led Michelle to consider separation.
Communication Patterns in Couples
Michelle begins the conversation, expressing her frustration with Mike’s inability to keep commitments. She emphasizes the word “you” repeatedly, indicating a parental mode of communication. Mike, on the other hand, exaggerates and avoids self-expression, responding defensively.
These patterns are common in relationships and often make it challenging to reach compromises that lead to healthy resolutions. This is where relationship therapy can make a significant difference. The goal is to identify and normalize these patterns, letting couples know they are not alone.
Learning to Express Emotions
When working with couples, it’s crucial to determine early on if they are connected to their feelings. By exploring their ability to pinpoint emotions like sadness, anger, fear, excitement, frustration, love, and joy, a couple’s therapist or marriage counselor can understand their clients better. The key is to help partners learn to express “I feel,” “I think,” and “I desire” statements.
Mike’s journey in therapy is an example of this process. Initially, he struggles to identify and articulate his emotions. Still, with guidance, he starts expressing himself positively. When he admits to feeling angry, there’s a noticeable shift in the room’s tension, but when Mike talks out his anger, he feels relieved as Michelle listened to him respectfully. I help couples practice telling their partner more about how they think and feel about something and less on what their partner is doing that bugs them.
It’s essential to help clients feel good about their progress. Shaping individuals and building a positive connection is vital in both individual and couples therapy. The process of working with core connections may take time, but by helping clients target, identify, and connect with their core feelings, we empower them to make better decisions in their relationships, ultimately transforming their lives and creating stronger bonds.
Whether you’re considering relationship counseling in Los Gatos for married couples or looking to improve your communication skills within your relationship, understanding your emotions and learning to express them effectively is the key to meaningful and lasting change. Couples counselors like me help clients target, identify, and connect to the core feelings of sadness, anger, fear, excitement, love, and joy to make better decisions about what they wish to communicate in their significant relationships.
So, take the first step towards your enhanced communication skills in Los Gatos by weaving mindfulness into your journey. Additionally, if you want to learn this tool, among others, to improve your relationship, please explore my relationship counseling and marriage counseling services in Los Gatos and book a session with me. There is hope, there is help, and it may be just a phone call away. Dial 408-358-9679.