So much of traditional couples counseling focuses on the couple. But a couple is also made up of two individuals. One of the challenges that many couples face is that they have lost their “I.” They become overly enmeshed in their significant relationships (e.g. their marriage or their family of origin), and have lost their ability to both work on their own issues and appreciate their own strengths.
Seeing the Individual in Couples Counseling in Long Island
This is one of the reasons that I strongly believe that couples counseling shouldn’t always be exclusively about the couple, and that individual issues must be addressed. I often suggest periodic individual relationship counseling in the context of couples counseling. This type of therapy has many benefits including:
- Understanding Our Own Needs
If you have been following the blog recently, you will have seen that we have often spoken about unresolved needs, and the frequency with which we choose partners to meet those needs rather than because of the partner’s strengths. For example, “my mom always said I’m the best, so I chose a partner that also felt like I’m the best. If they ever doubt that I’m the best, they are not meeting my needs and are not a good partner.”
Until we can explore your own needs, it’s difficult to know exactly what you may be depending on your partner for, and thus how to address it.
- Outside Issues Affecting Relationships
Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, stress – there are countless issues that can affect your relationship as a couple. Even though these issues affect the relationship, they are also your own personal issues, and thus benefit from being addressed separately.
- Talking it Through
Often in couples counseling I find that some couples are afraid to share all of their thoughts – which could be because they don’t want to tell their partner what they think, or they don’t want me to take their partner’s side in front of their partner, etc. They worry that it will detract from their own issues. So meeting individually gives more of an opportunity to be comfortable to speak without their partner being present for the discussion, which can then be addressed more effectively in future couples counseling sessions.
- Learning Relationship Skills
Finally, some people have their own relationship skills they need to hone and improve. Meeting to talk about these skills individually can thus be very beneficial for learning how to better handle the relationship – and all relationships – in the future.
Every couple has their own unique challenges. That is why couples counseling is so valuable. But a couple is also made up of two individuals, and sometimes it’s working on yourself as an individual in the context of the couples work that will have the greatest impact on achieving marital satisfaction. If you’d like to learn more about Long Island couples counseling, please contact me today at (516) 732-0237.