If couples therapy does not work, what does work?
Mediation is not marriage counseling or couples therapy. Mediation is a short-term process designed to identify concerns and to meet needs in order to reach agreements that address the problem at hand. It is a problem-solving approach for resolving disputes and underlying conflicts that will lead to regained friendship and trust in the relationship.
I was a couples therapist for several years and in my experience it works when there is a need for understanding a symptom or a dynamic of the conflict.
In summary, in couples mediation I do not spend a lot of time going back to the history or the roots of the conflict. I do not need to understand the dynamics of the conflict. Mediation is not positive reinforcement. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that is not what I do. By openly discussing the conflict, expectations, and how to manage the conflict, the couple will have better communication. I will also include some communication skills that will lead the couple to regain a strong relationship and friendship.
First I need to identify the ‘perpetual’ problems vs. the ‘solvable’ problems. The big issues in your relationship that keep causing you a lot of pain and hurt are very likely to be perpetual issues. When we are gridlocked in an issue we feel betrayed, disrespected, hurt, frustrated and feel as if we never get anywhere with this problem. The consequences of this are loneliness and distance, wherein a couple may lead parallel lives and/or become emotionally estranged.
In general perpetual problems are related to needs and stages of life, and can not be satisfied by the relationship, regardless of who’s at fault. More than likely it is nobody’s fault, and in couple’s mediation we do not focus on labeling one person, but rather we focus on finding a common and positive way to deal with the perpetual problem. Call me to set up an interview and we can discuss this in detail.
Solvable problems are problems that reveal a different belief system, and different needs, generated by history, cultural influence and circumstances, that if left untreated will end up as perpetual problems.