My Adult Relationship: why isn’t it working? Should I find a therapist?

Adult Therapy often focuses on relationships, but there could be other issues at play.   Carol (names are changed) was worried that her connections with  Michael were growing thin.    They had been living together for two years, at first happily. But now something had changed and….

She felt like giving up.

She wondered if she expected too much.  At first she thought their love for each other could lead into marriage.  But neither of them had made a commitment yet.  She felt that Michael got angry too easily and yelled at her too much.  She kept hearing her father’s angry voice as she did she was a child.  But she was now an adult.  What was going on?  Should she end their relationship?

In doing adult therapy, I try to help someone gain more understanding of how their past echoes back and gets triggered by what’s happening in the present.   In Carol’s case, I asked her about how she felt and thought in the moment Michael was yelling at her.  Did she feel safe telling him this?  Could Michael “own” his anger?  She admitted that he didn’t “get” her; he felt it was her problem.   What were her expectations of a partner?  What did she experience as she grew up?

Many individuals are unaware that they often live on automatic pilot.  In Carol’s case she closed down when she heard Michael’s angry voice.  We explored her reactions and her past history.   If she zoned out when Michael “got that tone”, he might feel unheard.  What was really going on inside her?  Would he be willing to come in for a session with her?

Adult Therapy is also about assumptions and communication.

As we grow up we develop our own beliefs and values.  But underneath those, we may harbor old hurts and rejections that we are not aware of.  A caring friend can help us uncover them but sometime these explorations are best done in some meaningful, in-depth therapy sessions.   We all have fears that can first surface in a serious relationship.   We can also learn to self-medicate with alcohol or another substance to keep the fears away.  Or we may assume the other’s meaning and act from that perception.  We can also fling a harmful “dart” without asking  the other person what he or she meant.

In Carol’s case seeing a therapist can help her challenge herself and her partner and determine whether she should move on or get both of them involved in the process of CHANGE.  This can be scary or lead to something deeper for both of them.