Is your partner driving you crazy? Does he/she feel the same way about you? What happened to that couple you once were? You remember – the two people who used to have fun together, shared dreams, respected each other, and made love more often. You will never be the couple you were when your love was new because each of you has changed and grown individually over time. And maybe you have added children to the mix, which we all know changes everything! But if you are willing to focus on your “coupleness” and devote the time and effort necessary to nurture your relationship, Karen Brown can help you identify how you are standing in your own way, lower your defenses, resolve your disputes, and learn to love again.
Some key issues which if not dealt with properly can damage the love relationship:
What kind of help are you looking for? Are you trying to improve your relationship? Are you trying to save it? Or are you trying to end it in the most amicable way possible?
Karen strongly believes that couples counseling is not about “convincing” the partners to stay in the relationship regardless of the circumstances. It is about honoring each partner’s experience of things and trying to find common ground which is often the pathway back to pleasure instead of pain. Her number one goal is to help couples find healthy ways to deal with the problems they are currently facing and will continue to face throughout their lives and to stay in love – not run from the relationship when things get rocky. That said, Karen has dealt with just about every scenario you can imagine from high complexity and high conflict to low complexity and low conflict. The three most common situations she sees are:
WE CAN WORK IT OUT! Both partners are committed to doing everything they can to invest in the health of the relationship. Splitting up is not an option, and they realize they just need to get some professional advice and to change some behaviors.
In this case, after an initial assessment of the issues from each partner’s perspective, Karen will help you both identify unhealthy relational patterns that you most likely developed in your family of origin and are still using today. Without dwelling too much on the past, couples are challenged to address any unfinished business and any poor communication habits that may be affecting the quality of their current relationship. Karen will then teach you healthier ways of communicating with emphasis on productive conflict resolution. Through role-playing, instruction, and discussion, partners learn how to maintain appropriate boundaries while respecting each other’s differences. How couples deal with conflict is considered by many professionals to be the key factor in determining the quality and longevity of the relationship.
CAN WE WORK IT OUT? One or more partners is conflicted as to whether to fight for the relationship or possibly end it.
This is often referred to as “Stay or go counseling”. In these situations, Karen tries to help couples get out of their negativity spiral and take a realistic look at what qualities brought them together in the first place. Anger, disappointment, and resentment can build for years until one or more partners feels helpless to do anything about it. Partners may be blaming each other for their own unhappiness. Karen works like a detective to track the course of the relationship and the dysfunctional patterns that have been established. When and why did things go south? What part did each partner play in in the downfall? Is there betrayal of trust involved? Are the partners willing to be vulnerable and let their guard down, release resentments, and forgive in order to move forward? And should they? If there is a history of domestic violence, abuse, or substance abuse, with either partner being unwilling to get help, the answer could be no. And of course, if there are children involved, what is in their best interest must be a priority.
According to Karen, “After 21+ years of seeing couples in crisis, I am always optimistic that a relationship can be saved until clients tell me or show me it cannot. I have had numerous couples who were so far in the ditch that I questioned whether they could do the work to crawl out, and miraculously they did. These are the most gratifying situations for me. Yet occasionally, other couples who I felt certain could get things back on track did not, to my sadness. But I do not have a crystal ball or a magic wand. I am an experienced therapist who can help clients put tools in their relationship toolbox. And while I always have strong opinions and advice which I share with my clients, at the end of the day it is not my life we are talking about. It is theirs. I respect every client’s right to make their own choices without judgment”.
WE’RE OVER IT.Both partners feel they have done just about everything to make the relationship better and have concluded that ending it might be the answer.
Couples at this stage feel emotionally exhausted and counseling is seen as a last-ditch effort. Sort of a “check the last box” if you will. Sometimes they just want a professional to confirm that their situation is as bad as they think it is. In some cases, the partners have already separated or maybe even filed for divorce.
In this situation, if partners choose not to stay together Karen can use her mediation skills and help you navigate future challenges such as:
Karen is not an attorney. She is a trained mediator. And many family law attorneys refer their clients to Karen for relationship support and consultation in some of the most complex, contested, high net-worth divorce situations. While she doesn’t work with clients under the age of 18, if counseling for the children is appropriate, she has a network of very qualified and trusted professionals who do.