Let’s face it, every couple, regardless of whether the couple is a heterosexual or a same-gender pair bond, experiences squabbles and differences of opinion from time to time. And, if they say they don’t, they're lying, or they do not trust one another enough to express a contrary outlook on the situation. Sometimes these differences can be settled in an equitable fashion, and other times, they can cause a huge rift in the relationship that can actually lead to separation and/or divorce.
In the beginning, both individuals enter the relationship filled with hope for a "happily-ever-after." However, each comes with a unique set of backgrounds, cultural influences, and family-of-origin values that were instilled in early childhood that may get in the way of fulfilling this dream. Furthermore, in monogamous marriages (whether heterosexual or same-gender), there is an implied set of expectations that differ from cohabitating relationship arrangements that may not have been clearly defined from the outset of the relationship. From a legal standpoint, there are a special rules governing married couples (such as those relating to property ownership, divorce, and inheritance rights, to name a few) that don’t apply to unmarried couples.
Unfortunately, research has demonstrated that non-marital cohabitation is correlated with greater likelihood of unhappiness and may lead to greater incidence of domestic violence even if there is an implied "commitment" of monogamy between the couple. In addition, several studies have shown that cohabiting couples report lower levels of satisfaction in the relationship than married couples and that women are more likely to be abused by a cohabiting boyfriend than by a husband.
While many couples seem to manage working through the tough times regardless of the pair-bonding arrangement and living situation, others many need help learning to navigate troubled waters. Couples therapy is aimed at validating each unique viewpoint while at the same time, helping them negotiate patterns of interacting that will work for both. In Dr. Karen's Marriage Repair Kit: It's all about Respect (2015), (found at www.drkaren.com) there are a myriad of topics that cover relationship struggles that MANY couples face in the course of a lifetime. Some of these suggestions just might answer your questions before attempting to seek professional help or marital therapy!
Sometimes however, when boundaries have been crossed for the last time, or there is instance of abuse, domestic violence, or emotional terrorism, the only solution may be to help the couple part company without creating a civil war. This can be accomplished by couple's therapy which is a therapeutic intervention based on psychological theories and evidenced-based techniques; by Individual Therapy which may be used in conjunction with couple's therapy; by Mediation; or by Relationship Coaching which is NOT therapy. This difference is explained in the RELATIONSHIP COACHING section of the PRACTICE OVERVIEW section of this website.
In the heat of battle, threats of separation or divorce are disruptive, wounding, unsettling, and can wreak havoc on a person's sense of equilibrium, especially for the one who is being "dumped." Thus, Individual Therapy may be necessary to bolster the person's self-esteem and sense of SELF as they wade through the oftentimes torrid waters of divorce. Furthermore, division of property can also be mitigated by using "mediation" as a means of settling heated disputes over possessions and childcare. Relationship coaching can also provide a safe, but non-therapeutic solution to couple struggles and disputes. The skilled clinician should not have an agenda either way. Our job is to assess each situation and help the couple devise the best course of action for their unique set of circumstances. Don’t hesitate to call for an appointment (954-779-2855) to discuss interventions that will be beneficial for your situation.
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