The theme for my sessions today seems to be, “this is hard,” but not just the couples therapy, but also the part about working out being a couple outside of couples therapy. Multiple couples have come to that conclusion today, and I have agreed with them. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy to not do the hard work. Oh, in some ways it is easier to not work on something, but what is the cost?
It is normal (that is, it is what most people do) to get in to a long term partnership and get busy with life, and work, and children for those who have them. And it is normal (again, what most people do) to let most of the other issues, problems, events in their lives overshadow the couple, take precedence over the couple. The partners are the ones doing a lot of the work (away from home and in the home) and trying to get other things completed (exercising, socializing, shopping, etc.). So it just happens that the partners focus on other issues a lot and the couple not so much.
Just because it is normal, because it happens a lot, doesn’t mean it is a good thing. It is not a good thing for the couple, for the partnership, to be left behind. To keep most couples going, they need at least a bit of quality time with each other. And they need to be able to do some of the things they used to do that got them together (have fun with each other, go to a movie together, have sex with each other, relax together, talk to one another, have fun with others, to name a few). There are a minority of couples who devote themselves to their children and that is enough, but that is a small minority. Couples need quality time together to keep the partnership going, and the family going.
So now is the time to work on the relationship, today, maybe tomorrow, certainly this week. But it can be easy to do something else, to fall into old patterns of taking care of everything else and neglecting the couple. It can be difficult to talk intimately with anyone at all, even with your partner. Not doing it (talking about important things) doesn’t have to be destructive, but often is. Talking with one another when done poorly (without resolution, too much yelling, name calling, bad fighting) is destructive also and warrants couples therapy. Make time now for the couple, and if you can’t do that, make time for the couple to go to couples therapy to see why they are not making time for each other.
Dr. Robert G. Kraft is a career psychologist in Omaha, NE. He earned his doctorate, as well as his bachelors and masters before that, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and has practiced in Nebraska ever since.
As well as maintaining his practice, Dr. Kraft is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Creighton University School of Medicine, where he teaches residents about psychotherapy.