Therapy Approaches and Methods

The biggest single factor in the soaring divorce rate in this country is disconnection, with 80 percent of divorced couples simply stating they "grew apart." Most of us don't need a formal study to bear out this fact. Whether a friend, acquaintance or a high profile couple in the news, the reason we hear most often for a couple calling it quits is that they simply grew apart.

While communication is certainly key to all relationships, it is a classic case of chicken or the egg. Are we connected because we have good communication? Or are communicating well because we are connected?

In the beginning of a relationship, couples communicate well - talking for hours on end. We're not afraid to expose our vulnerabilities. We support and empower each other. Why? Because we're emotionally connected. We fall in love with each other because of a deep emotional connection, not because we communicate well, and not just because we're attracted to one another.

The key to strengthening or saving a marriage is to regain the connection you had when you first fell in love. In fact, this is a continual, repeating cycle that healthy couples must go through, not just maintain their connection, but to deepen it to a level that transcends the early, romantic-love-fueled connection that brought them together.

We all grow and change, and our relationships reflect that reality. The key is to grow together, not apart. We all want the same thing - a connection that strengthens and deepens over time, not one that weakens and disintegrates. The key is to feed and nurture our connection and when we get lost, seek the help we need to find our way back. In small ways and in large ways, relationships will repeatedly die to their old self, be reborn, and resurrect to become something stronger and deeper. The key is to keep the circle moving and not to stay stuck in the past.

Marriage counseling can not only help you find your way back, but uncover the underlying reasons that keep causing you to push each other away, leading you to isolation and disconnection, even when nobody seems to be doing anything wrong. It can also uncover the roadblocks that despite your best efforts to connect, keep getting in the way. It can help you keep the circle moving.

Just as it’s easy to attribute lack of connection to poor communication, it’s easy to think that the path back to connectedness is as simple as getting your needs met in the relationship. It's not-so-distant cousin is the blame game and its accompanying list of "if only's" — if only she would do this and if only he didn't do that, if only he didn't act like a jerk and if only she wasn't such a nag.

The self-centered attitude these words represent feeds a sense of entitlement and resentment, not the connection we crave. It is an attitude that stands in the way of a basic tenant of human interaction - you must give what you expect to get. No matter how much we wish this not to be and no matter how right we think we are, the quickest, surest way back to your connection is to give to your partner what you want in return. If you want to be understand, be understanding. If you want affection, be affectionate. If you want compassion, be compassionate. If you want respect, be respectful and honor your partner. Not only will your partner like you more and begin to feel more connected, you’ll like yourself better too.

If you want to be right and continue the blame game, then be prepared for the disconnection that perpetuates. Once you regain your connection, then it will be possible to explore and address the unmet needs and behaviors that have been eating away at it. Talking about the relationship is important, but before you can really roll the sleeves up and get serious about that, you need to regain the connection.