I believe loving relationships just don't happen, the skills must be learned. This is the time for learning that intimacy is a skill-set. Not a static capacity so much as a daily practice. Not something one has but something one does.
Communication between partners is a multilayered process. In order for relationships to succeed and thrive, partners must lean how to speak their truth adeptly and relationally. Because of this many of us feel inadequate at our attempts to understand our partners and be understood. We need to shift our understanding that communicating clearly is not enough, we must also focus on communicating relationally.
There are many causes for stress in a relationship. Sometimes there are specific issues such as and affair, sexual differences, conflicts about child rearing, cultural differences, blended families. Other times there is a gradual fading of romance and connection, a lack of interest and caring, a case of two people growing more and more distant.
Couples counseling (whether you are married or not) helps couples rebuild a relationship by providing tools for better communication, resolving conflicts and differences and maintain connection.
If your partner refuse to attend couples therapy sessions, go on your own. You can benefit from learning more about yourself and your relationship. Change in one partner always affects the whole relationship. See webpage titled How One Person Can Make the Difference for the Two of You.
Reading How to Get the Most Out of Couples Therapy will help couples understand the most beneficial ways to do this work.
Pripo Teplitsky, MA, LPC
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