As you might imagine, each distressed couple has its own unique issues. Each has its own way habitual way of dealing with those issues. Often, each person struggles – unsuccessfully – to be heard. And, of course, each couple is more or less skilled at resolving its conflicts.
Faced with this challenging variety of conflicts I’m planning to help resolve, I’ve learned that the best way forward is to design the first six visits in the following way:
Visit 1. We meet together. You both tell me what’s been happening.
Visits 2 & 3: Each person meets with me individually. I learn your point of view and what you’ve been trying to do about it.
Visit 4. We all meet together to agree on basic “rules of engagement” - how you’ll communicate with each other - verbally, non-verbally and in writing during the following week.
Visit 5. Assessing what worked and what didn’t during the previous week. Agreeing on “rule” modifications to improve communication results. Planning for the following week.
Visit 6. Assessing what worked and what didn’t. From each person’s point of view:
success at being heard,
degree of emotion control,
skill in conflict resolution, and
hope for the future.
I love doing this work. I love watching couples develop new understandings and behaviors that get them what they want and need. It’s not rocket science. And, it always works if individuals in the couple decide what they want and are prepared to go after it - skillfully. Your couple-hood, though unique, is no different!