RELATIONSHIPS are very central to our personal sense of satisfaction, and we may even find that they at least partially define who we are. When our relationships are healthy and strong, we can derive much happiness and feel better about ourselves. Positive relationships can also provide us support in our efforts to pursue interests or achieve success. Each relationship has its problems, at least from time to time. However, when they are significantly problematic, we can wind up feeling undermined, depleted, trapped, deprived, insecure, resentful, and/or overwhelmed. This is especially true in relationships that are destructive or abusive. Harmful relationships can damage one's self-esteem, and can foster the view of oneself as a victim.
Seeking solutions and ways of repairing damage done within a long-term or very significant relationship is often a primary focus in MARITAL/COUPLES COUNSELING. In therapy, a couple can find the opportunity to work on the issues which threaten the integrity of the relationship and cause suffering to one or both parties. This is particularly the case when the couple recognizes that the same issues seem to arise repeatedly, or that they need to learn more effective ways of resolving conflicts. Improving communication and understanding can often lead to improved health of the relationship. In therapy, couples can learn better ways of speaking and listening to each other, and can observe the patterns that affect the relationship in positive and negative ways. In this manner, a couple can make intelligent choices regarding the relationship together rather than taking on adversarial roles. A mutual commitment to the improved health and stability of the relationship is the key to success.