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Relationship Conflicts

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If you have clicked on this icon then you are in pain. Relationship conflicts can tear you apart. I work with people individually and in couples counseling to help figure out what is causing the distress in your relationship. You can only control yourself not other people. So, what can you do differently? How can you start to connect with your partner in a more tender way? What forms of communication seem to get you what you want?

It’s difficult to have engaging heartfelt conversations with a partner when you are in your child self and so is your partner. Are you tired of yelling or crying? Do you not even feel your emotions anymore? You are just totally out of touch with them? Where there is anger on the surface, hidden beneath is sadness, disappointment and much pain.

Therapy can help. Even if you decide, I need to stay in this relationship because we have small children. Or, I need to leave even though I don’t know the practical details and how it will all work out. I will help you isolate these factors and create a solution you can live with on a daily basis. Our emotions serve functions. Emotions are never bad or wrong. They are there to serve us and provide information. Especially the negative ones.

How can we use our emotions to create a more manageable life?

Life is hard and there is pain but suffering is a whole other level. When we stop blaming our partners for their faults and start to look at ourselves and our own issues we can understand the relationship dynamic. Maybe we picked a partner who really presses our buttons? Maybe that’s what it means to be truly intimate and close with someone? Perhaps you have had your boundaries crossed so many times you cannot trust your partner. You know it is time to leave. Or is it?

I will help you to make huge decisions and I will encourage you to take your time. Relationships, truly intimate ones, are challenging no doubt, but they are worth the fight. I have met with clients who say they married their husband because he was stable and now he is unstable and now not only are they married to someone they are not attracted to but who is also not stable. What a dilemma! I still contend that you picked that partner in an effort to work out your issues. It’s better to stay than leave most of the time. If you do decide to end the relationship, it helps to have guidance during that process.

julie-berman-therapy-and-counseling-in-portland-or-call-pictureWe all want a secure base, an attachment that is steady and meaningful and reliable and safe. We also want thrills and excitement and flirtation and banter. We don’t get both and we don’t get everything we want in life. I have worked with lots of people struggling with compromises. I encourage you to ask yourself this: Is it enough? As in, is my relationship enough? It may not be that he or she is my soulmate but it what we have enough or satisfying to me? Our life together?

I cannot make these decisions for you. I can only support you and reflect back what I hear you saying and the emotional world that lives below your words and in your body language. I reflect back to you what you truly want and what will create more happiness and fulfillment for you.

I work with a good number of partners of addicts. For these populations there are specific questions like: how can I trust you again? What if you act out again? Why do I even have to do treatment, you are the one with the problem? I also work with addicts who ask: when will he trust me again? How many times do I need to repeat my story? I have so much shame, why doesn’t the shame stop me from seeking these thrills?

Childhood trauma – big T or little t – is most often the culprit. Big T would be molestation and other significant impactful traumas. But what gets less press are the little ts like complex divorces and neglectful parents, bullying experiences, sibling relationships. Many people experience many little ts and do not connect those experiences to present day problems. But they will keep presenting themselves (popping up!) in patterns until the issues are dealt with in therapy, in relationships, until these raw spots receive some healing and are integrated.

Most often partners who have an anxious style of attachment pair up with a partner with an avoidant style. The two styles perpetuate problems and go around and around until both partners are exhausted, miserable and either fighting a lot of not speaking to each other. I recommend the books, Attached by Amir Levine and Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson. Both books supply lots of examples of the pain that ensues with this attachment style match. I help partners isolate the sensitive important issue and I translate what you are saying to each other. This is a painful process but I know it helps. I have been there!