Every model of counselling has a different view on couples therapy and there’s some truth in each kind of therapy of course:
Behavioural therapist Stuart states:
Successful marriages can be differential from unsuccessful ones by the frequency and range of reciprocal positive reinforcements the partners exchange.
What does that mean? There is a woman who needs to talk and share all her thoughts and emotions and therefore tries to call her partner all the time. And there is a man who doesn’t like talking very much and he hates sharing emotions. So his reaction to her calls is withdrawal and the more she calls the more he isolates from her and ignores her.
All Stuart wants to express with his statement can be put into one question:
How can both partners achieve the happy medium?
The necessary part that can’t be avoided is CONVERSATION and CONFLICT MANAGEMENT. And the solution is a CONTRACT between the partners saying for example: She promises not to call that often anymore and he promises to sit together with her to talk about the things that are on her heart and mind every day in the evening.
One exercise to develop a better understanding between the partners is called “the request list”: There are two columns, one for the woman and one for the man. On one side the woman writes what she requests from her partner like “Please share your emotions and thoughts with me” and on the other side the man writes down his requests like “Please respect it when I need some time on my own.” This is a nice way to get to know each other and even after lots of years there’s often an “AHA-effect” on both sides.
As a counsellor I hear a lot of excuses why a relationship doesn’t work out. The most famous one is “We are too different in a lot of ways! (sexual, multi cultural, religious and many more). I don’t agree because then there wouldn’t be couples who are married happily with all those differences for 25 years and suddenly start thinking about divorce; they would have recognized those differences earlier and either dealt or coped with them or split up after a shorter period of time.
I agree with the psychologist Howard Markman who stated: