Relationship Counseling

When I talk of “relationship counseling”, I am thinking of counseling for problems a single person or dating couple is having, i.e., mate selection (who you choose to date), problems that arise while dating (problem resolution, communication, etc.), or post-divorce dating (living with loneness, deciding when to be sexual with someone you are dating, etc.)

This area of counseling, I believe, is growing.  People today are much more accepting of counseling as compared to 20-30 years ago and counseling is much more affordable and accessible.  Further, people are more aware when they don’t have all their answers and need outside assistance.

When we talk of mate selection, the first concept that comes to mind is past relationships and childhood family experiences and past sexual abuse.  Nothing has a bigger effect on who we select to date, I believe, than what we were exposed to previously, especially during childhood and adolescence.

After years of being a therapist, I believe people marry for familiarity as much as for love.  Using the analogy of dance, as children, we are taught a dance by our parents.  The dance is about how the world and relationships work.  We use that dance later in life when we get out in life and look for a partner.  Those that seem to know how to dance the way we do, we select.  This is all very unconscious.  Ever heard the saying that we tend to marry our mother or our father?  Same concept.

In therapy, I try to help the person or couples understand what dances they learned from their background and how they are playing it out in their relationship today.  Further, I explore how they would want to “dance” with their partner when it comes to decision making, being sexual, disagreeing, ore expressing feelings like anger or love.  It is an interesting phenomenon to see a person/couple act out one dance and yet verbalize another, healthier dance.  It’s critical for the person/couple to recognize these differences in dances and move toward the healthier dance.

Post-divorce dating is a particularly interesting area for me.  Never before in my life have I been able to see so clearly how powerful the emotions of loneliness, sexual desire, and fear are.  I deal with these emotions every day, not only as a therapist in my office but also as a divorced man, at home.  This, I believe, has given me keen insight about such that I then pass on those I work with.