- Is your beloved relationship plagued by constant bickering?
- Do you both have differences that you desperately need to resolve, but you just don’t know how to begin?
- Do you just wish you could revitalize passion and romance?
- Do you want to save your relationship, and dread the idea of abandoning it and starting again from zero?
The amazing truth is, what most struggling couples need is actually NOT Couples Therapy alone! Almost always, it’s that one or both partners needs Individual Counseling first!
That’s the astounding fact that most Couples Therapists in New York City won’t tell you: Marriage Counseling and relationship advice alone will almost never solve your relationship problems!
In my experience, 90 percent of the time the problem is that one or both partners has the following TWO challenges:
ONE: He or she is actually a great, loving partner, but has emotional health issues that are preventing him or her from being that wonderful partner he or she really wants to be, and
TWO: He or she lacks a bit of skills and knowledge of how to relate to the opposite gender and what his or her ROLE is in a relationship, and so he or she is incapable of fulfilling the partner’s and his or her own needs properly, and therefore dissatisfaction and conflict results.
Therefore, the ingenious solution to relationship issues usually is, to evaluate both members of the couple and their relationship, determining what INDIVIDUAL issues each partner may be facing. Then the affected partner or partners must undergo a moderately-lengthed course of Individual Counseling, but through the LENS of an experienced NYC Couples Therapist who will resolve the underlying emotional blocks, while at the same time teaching that great, ageless couples’ wisdom that every relationship needs to thrive.
Then only after do we consolidate our gains by putting it all together in Marriage Counseling, which bring our newly found emotional health and relationship skills into fruition.
I have seen this strategy work wonders with NYC couples who had been struggling in Couples Therapy without solutions for years!
The trick is to get a warm, wise and mature Marriage Counselor who understands essential relationship dynamics AND how to resolve individual mental health issues.
For example, commonly many New York City women experiencing difficulties in a relationship actually are suffering from low self-esteem,
caused by certain stressors in their past, and they are mistakenly using their relationship to try and fix those low self-worth issues. This however puts unfair pressure on her partner and asks him to do something that is impossible for a man to do, and is doomed to failure and to create conflict. Only good dynamic and cognitive psychotherapy can resolve self-esteem issues, and once she takes care of that she will be free to develop a healthy relationship where each partner is giving and taking what each is truly supposed to give and receive, without making any unreasonable and conflict-generating demands!
One further example, often a successful, high-functioning NYC man
may tend to be often irritable and angry at his partner, generating hurt feelings and conflict with a woman he truly loves. The underlying story is he is actually commonly suffering from an emotional issue called Perfectionism, where due to certain stressors in his past he feels poorly about himself and is trying to make up for those feelings by accomplishing amazing things and achieving near-perfect output in almost every aspect of his professional and personal life. When his partner inevitably makes normal and totally acceptable mistakes and imperfect decisions, this tends to threaten the plan for superior performance he feels he desperately needs, and unreasonable anger, irritability and criticism results. No amount of Couples Counseling can resolve this, only individual therapy involving cognitively reframing his values will help. This means learning to appreciate the beauty of mundane, average, ordinary achievement, and the liberty of shooting for modest, decent output and not pressuring himself to always insist on perfection. At the same time, he would need to go dynamically into his past to understand what is fueling his low self-esteem and defuse that to allow his self-worth to bubble back up so he will no longer feel driven to demand perfection.
I saw a New York City man who once achieved this in therapy who was amazed at the fountain of acceptance and love that subsequently flowed out to his partner in their new, healthier relationship!
What are the healthy roles in a male-female relationship that one needs to strive for through Couples Therapy here in NYC?
My view is that men and women have equally valuable and precious, but extremely different roles in a healthy couples or family relationship. It is critical to understand how each partner’s job needs to be kept in mind, and how each partner’s abilities and talents needs to be properly implemented and respected.
I like to compare a couple or family and their home to a ship at sea.
The man’s role is to be the captain of the ship, in charge of the overall executive functioning of the relationship, and the woman like the ship’s first officer, who is responsible for managing the many complex details of the day-to-day operations of the entire ship. She is freed from the responsibility of the big picture so she can focus on those ever important details that are in her sphere, and he is freed from micro-managing the details of the running of the ship, so he can focus on maintaining his executive inspiration. Someone wisely told me once, “The man may rule, but the woman governs.” Let’s examine this beautiful division of labor in detail.
What is a man’s role?
A man’s role is to be a giver to his partner and family. On a physical level, a man gives the seed and the woman takes what he gives her and, with his support, undertakes the detailed task of creating something good out of what he gave her. Similarly, a man’s job is to be a sort of a prime mover, to invent and create a new path for his family or relationship to take using constantly renewed acts of executive inspiration. Like a captain charting the overall direction and goals of a ship, the man tends to be in charge of molding the overall, big picture of his family’s destiny, of course taking his first officer’s feedback about the detailed needs of the ship into consideration.
This role gives a man great liberty and breadth to chart his family’s course, but it also gives him great responsibility,
as whatever happens to a ship is ultimately the captain’s complete responsibility, similarly a man is responsible for the ultimate and overall health and course of the relationship. This also means that he has more power to influence and effect changes in the health of his family. Therefore, it’s good to know that a man who is determined to improve his marriage or relationship is most capable of successfully carrying out that task, even without the cooperation of his first officer and the rest of the members of his family. This means that if a man is highly motivated for Marriage Counseling and the related individual work, he can overcome most every obstacle, and with proper counsel, can even charm a reluctant or uncooperative partner.
If the woman is motivated but the man is unmotivated to improve however, the task is more difficult for her and she will need the wise assistance of a NYC Couples Therapist who knows how to work well with a man.
Therefore something I do is to gradually get to know the reluctant man in a couple, and gain his confidence, inspiring him to take up his executive role and use his voluminous power to take responsibility and light a fire under his relationship’s growth towards health.
A man, as the initiator of change and development in a relationship, needs to carefully protect his source of executive inspiration,
without which the ship or family is lost without a leader! Therefore, at times he needs to retire into solitude and nurture his creative impulse. It is very important to remember that a man needs to be alone sometimes, and this may create problems as his partner may crave constant togetherness. A woman is in the middle of the chain of the command of the family and thus is suited to be constantly in contact with others, and thus may not understand why her beloved partner seems to be rejecting her in seeking solitude, but the key is to be patient and have confidence that he will come back! His desire to be alone is only temporary, he needs to nourish his decision-making impetus, and this must be done in the isolated womb of the captain’s quarters.
However later he will surely come back out, overflowing with new found creative generosity,
ready to resume giving boundlessly and selflessly to his faithful first officer who has been waiting patiently for his return. She will then be delighted to take his inspired material and create something wonderful for their relationship out of it.
Since a woman is built to be in the center of the chain of command of the ship, she functions almost completely in the interpersonal venue.
Therefore for her, all problems are resolved by reaching out to others, giving or receiving help, and especially by emotionally communicating. It can be challenging, but she need to understand that men are not always like that, they need to pull back at times and work on problems in solitude, and it will be the wisest thing for her to leave him alone in those times. He will love and respect her tremendously for doing that when necessary. Trying to offer help in those times threatens the integrity of his executive role and will be resented. Instead she needs to simply trust that he will come back later after finding his inspired spark. At the same time when he needs to be alone, he should reflect and validate her disappointment at those times, “I’m sorry I know it’s difficult and painful for you when I need to be alone. I promise I’ll give you all the time you need later.”
What is a woman’s role?
A woman naturally thrives on attention to detail. It is her job, and it particularly suits her abilities and talents, to micro-manage the critically important day-to-day workings of the relationship or family. She is particular skilled at multi-tasking and keeping on top of many different items at once. She tends to hyper-focus on the details, leaving no stone unturned in making sure all the thousands of little things go right. This can be a complicated, overwhelming task many times however. Therefore she needs the constant support of her captain, who gives her guidance, encouragement, inspiration and especially material to build with and to manage.
One of the most important ways he needs to support her is to passionately listen to her express her thoughts and feelings
about her experience of all the many details she is managing, and reflect back her experience. This is called empathy, where he lets her know he knows how she feels. This needs to be done on a daily basis, and it prevents her from being overwhelmed by the amazing task of running all the details of the family, and this empathy gives her the courage and stamina to persevere. He need not give her any advice at those times, he should just listen and reflect and she will be fueled up and ready to go back to her detailed administrative tasks. A woman needs to know that her man will always come to support her in this way when needed, as she is in need of constant contact and relating with others.
A man however needs to reserve his attention for the big picture, preserving his decision-making power.
Therefore he resents unsolicited advice or criticism from his first officer, as that advice would be a threat to her confidence in his executive ability, and therefore his own confidence.
This means that a man needs to know his partner trusts, believes in and accepts him, and allows him to find his own executive inspiration to resolve the family’s problems without any criticism or advice that may usurp his power and responsibility. If someone is having difficulty driving you don’t help him by grabbing the steering wheel. A woman needs to let the captain lead and support him by letting him know that she has confidence in him and will accept his lead.
What are some great relationship tips that you can learn from a good New York City Marriage Counselor?
One common source of relationship difficulties is when a woman is hyper-focused on the details of her present feelings, and she needs to be listened to and validated by her partner, but since he is thinking about the executive tasks of the relationship, he thinks she is calling to his attention a global problem, and feels criticized and that his lead is not being accepted.
For example, she may exclaim, “You don’t love me!”
Here, she doesn’t really mean to complain that he doesn’t love her in general, she’s only saying that for certain reasons that may not have anything to do with him, she feels unloved at the moment. It could be because he is preoccupied with some executive task and she feels left out, or it could be that she has some insecurities that need to be reassured. She is only saying, “I need to feel more loved right now, I need to be reassured that I am cared for!” But he mistakenly thinks she is making a global complaint of his executive functioning, that he is generally not being a good partner and is failing in his responsibility of leading the ship. The truth is he probably loves her generally very much and shows it often, so he is shocked and hurt by a statement like “You don’t love me,” therefore he gets defensive and angry as he feels unappreciated and not valued.
The solution is for him to realize that she is only complaining about a detail of the relationships’ health that is presently overwhelming her,
because it’s her job to micromanage every detail. He need not feel she is complaining or criticizing his executive competence, she is only expressing a feeling that needs to be supported and validated in the moment. So instead of getting defensive and trying to prove her wrong, that he does love her and she’s wrong to feel that he doesn’t, he needs to accept and validate that she presently feels unloved, and then make her feel loved in that moment. Reflect, “Oh you’re feeling unloved right now! I’m so sorry you feel that way, it must be painful like you’re feeling abandoned.” Then reassure, “I love you honey you’re the best, come here give me a hug, let’s sit down and have some quality time. You know I was thinking of you at work just today! I was thinking I’m so lucky to have a lady like you!”
A woman can prevent this problem
by making it clear to him, “I know you love me and you’re a great husband always, but I’m just overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity right now, and I’m afraid of losing your love! Can you please reassure me that you will always love me? That would make me feel much better!” This way he will understand that it’s only a temporary feeling that needs to be heard and validated, and she’s not criticizing his job as a man, and so he will not get defensive or upset, he will be inspired to give her what she needs in that moment.
Another common problem may be when a woman says, “This house is always a mess!”
He may pay for a cleaning lady 3 times a week and helps her every day on top of that, and so he gets insulted, and feels angry, unappreciated and criticized. He feels like she is saying he is failing in his responsibility of running the ship by not supporting her in her tasks. But he needs to understand that what she is really saying is, “I am so overwhelmed by the task of running all the details of my life and our relationship, that the responsibility to clean feels in this moment just more than I can handle! I need support and validation of my feelings in this moment, and reassurance that you will always be there to back me up when I feel this way!” She can also say, “I appreciate all the help you give me, but I still feel emotionally stressed sometimes and I need you to give me emotional fuel in the moment!” He should also remember that a woman’s house is more than just a place to live, it in all its details is a reflection of her personality and her very self, and if it’s disorderly, even only temporarily, she feels her very being is way out of harmony.
The solution is not more cleaning, but empathy, understanding and validation of her feelings of being overwhelmed that will inevitably be there regularly.
Let’s say he came home late and didn’t call and she is upset. He should not try to explain his good reasons for being late and why she shouldn’t be upset, as that will not help at all. He should instead validate her feelings, “Oh, you must have been so worried when I didn’t come home on time, I’m so sorry, I promise I’ll call you next time. Wow you must have been imagining so many upsetting things!”
If she’s upset that he’s rushing he should say, “I know you’re upset that we’re rushing. I don’t like rushing either. I wish we could slow down. I’m sorry you feel rushed. Maybe we can slow down later.” This will validate her and make her feel better.
If a woman feels she needs to be listened to by her partner,
she should make it clear to him, “Honey, I have had a hard day and I really need to be listened to, understood and cared for for a little while. Please do not offer me any advice, just listen and it will be very helpful and I will feel much better.” In this way the man will know what he needs to do and will gladly listen and support her.
Men think that people need help only when they ask for it,
but women are not that way, they expect you to anticipate what they need and offer help, support and kindness without being asked. Therefore a wise man performs many small acts of kindness to his partner on a constant basis without being asked. It is not enough to do just one or two huge things like bringing home a 7-figure salary and being faithful. She needs the little things, especially kind words.
We must remember that a man should delegate detailed administrative tasks to his partner,
and not get overly involved in micro-managing the details, that’s her sphere. She should let her choose the color of the couch and how to decorate and organize the house, honoring her by respecting her decisions on all those important details. He should only step in and use his authority for big, global, executive decisions like which stocks to buy and where to send the kids to school, and the like. If he tries to micromanage details and does not respect her right to control those things, conflict may result.
Conversely if a woman expresses a lack of confidence and trust in her husband’s executive lead, and criticizes,
shows a lack of approval and acceptance, or offers unsolicited advice, he will feel his authority as a captain is being undermined, and he will get defensive and there may be conflict. If he is making mistakes or she would like things to change, she can motivate him to fix those things not by criticizing, but by showing dedication, devotion, trust in his leadership, admiration and appreciation. This will much more effectively inspire him to be a better husband than criticism will! After showing him that unconditional support and praise, she can ever so gently and subtly hint at things she needs him to do differently, and he will gladly respond, because he feels his executive authority is being respected.
A woman is a first a receiver, then she gives back.
Similar to on a physical level, a woman needs to constantly receive kindness, material, values and direction from her partner, and she uses what he gives her to build a family and a relationship. She needs to be constantly refueled and resupplied by being loved, cherished, respected, cared for, listened to and supported. He must first initiate the giving. He needs someone to receive his boundless generosity, and to appreciate and do wonderful things with the precious material that he has created with his executive inspiration. He needs to know that she will faithfully help him bring his creative dreams into fruition.
There are countless gems of advice that I can offer in Couples Therapy in my New York City Office.
In addition, I use a technique called Socratic questioning, where I guide my couples with well-placed questions until they have developed their own creative, ingenious solutions to their issues. Such self-generated ideas are much more likely to be cherished and followed through on.
Practical advice along with individual resolution of underlying emotional health issues, is the amazing double tool which NYC Marriage Counselor can use to resolve almost any couples’ conflicts!
But you still may have concerns about Couples Therapy or Marriage Counseling…
Couples Counseling in New York City can be expensive, and I’m not sure it’s worth the money…
Relationship Counseling is an early intervention. By nipping the problem in the bud with 6 months of therapy now, we prevent it from ballooning into a much bigger problem down the road, requiring then years of therapy. You have many decades of potential to live happy lives together. A few months or a year with a NYC Couples Therapist now is actually a very small investment. In fact, the benefits to your relationship and overall happiness is so great that Marriage Counseling is actually a steal!
My partner will never agree to come to Couples Counseling. It’s probably useless and there’s not much I can do myself…
There is actually a tremendous amount of things that an individual member of a couple can do in Couples Therapy, even attending sessions just alone! There is much golden advice to discover, and since a relationship or family is a system, when any one element, or person, in that system gets more emotionally healthy, the entire system improves and experiences more harmony! In addition, your partner may see the benefits you are both getting from your solo attendance and may later be willing to attend. Furthermore, I have a knack for gaining the confidence of men who are at first reluctant and unmotivated to come to Marriage Counseling. There are many things I can tell you to tell him that will inspire him, and if I can meet him, a warm relationship will often ensue!
I don’t feel either of us have any underlying emotional issues to work on. It’s only our relationship that needs work…
A minority of couples do not need individual therapy for either partner but just need relationship skills and a communication forum. If you feel that fits you, I am happy to provide Couples Therapy alone and you will likely experience much benefit and improvement.
I have been working as a NYC Therapist for couples for years!
I have been happily married in New York City for nearly 20 years, and have been through many challenges keeping that critical relationship healthy and rewarding. I have the experience, patience, relationship advice and especially the boundless kind heart to help you sort out your relationship’s thorny issues. In addition, I know how to treat many common emotional health issues if need be, or I can refer out to the right NYC therapist for you. I have been working with children and families for years and can usually anticipate exactly what personally tailored medicine you and your partner need.
It is my greatest pleasure to help people find joyous, satisfying relationships and a life of emotional health!
Feel free to peruse my interesting blog, or the other specialties on my website. If you feel I may be the right fit for you as a Couples Therapist here in NYC, you may chat with me in the chat box, or call me directly at 646-681-1707 for a complementary 15-minute phone consultation. I try to make myself available to clients especially during the mornings or early afternoons, and more often than not I pick up the phone myself right away. I look forward to speaking with you!