Couple embracing – How to Create a Healthy, Vibrant Relationship Without Couples Therapy

How to Create a Healthy, Vibrant Relationship Without Couples Therapy

Don’t you wish there was a class to take in high school or college that taught you how to be a good partner in your intimate relationship?

That your parents talked more openly and taught you more about what constitutes healthy, sexual relationships?

And that your parents modeled how to effectively resolve conflict by how they engaged in differences with each other?

Sex education in the Dutch Culture

If you were raised in the Netherlands, you would have had, as part of your formal education, classes about intimate relationships and sexual relationships.

Because parents in the Dutch culture talk more openly about sex and intimacy, you also would have had parents who offered you a more informed and less shame-based approach to sex.

Sex education in the American Culture

But since it’s likely that most of you reading this have been raised in the USA, it’s also likely that you did not have classes in school teaching you about healthy, intimate relationships.

It’s also probable that your parents did not talk openly about sex because our culture tends to be much more reserved and uncomfortable talking about the intricacies of sexuality.

And perhaps you were not even fortunate enough to see your parents model a healthy, happy, effective marriage.

If we are not privy to a model of healthy relationships and never took classes to learn how to create and sustain healthy intimate relationships, then how are we to learn how to navigate, conduct, and participate in complex intimate relationships?

We tend to buy into the preposterous idea that once you fall in love, you automatically are granted access to some secret knowledge that is not available to those not yet in love.

Love and Marriage Myths

The approach in this country is to pretend that these skills come naturally once you fall in love; that loving someone is enough to motivate and guide your words, actions, and decisions to create healthy relationships.

That falling in love will, all of a sudden, results in you “just knowing” how to do the work of maintaining and nurturing intimate relationships and how to build a strong marriage.

We tend to buy into the preposterous idea that once you fall in love, you automatically are granted access to some secret knowledge that is not available to those not yet in love. And this secret knowledge will naturally inform you to be a healthy partner in the most challenging kind of relationship to have.

The myths we hold onto around marriage and romantic relationships in our country create a false sense of ease about navigating complex emotional, sexual, and relational issues.

They also leave us grossly unprepared for the work, effort, and commitment required to build a strong marriage that will stand the test of time.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Without formal classes teaching us skills to navigate the reality of marriage and/or the modeling of healthy relationships by parents who have marriages that are thriving …

  • How are we supposed to know that practicing emotional awareness can inform us about the best time to approach a difficult conversation and ensures that difficult conversations will go better and result in us feeling closer to our partner rather than farther apart?
  • How are we supposed to know that reminding our partner of all the ways we see their innate goodness will build trust and secure attachments?
  • How are we supposed to know how to talk about our own sexual desires, fantasies, and expectations when we do not even give ourselves the permission to think about these things without guilt or shame?

And the answer to all these questions is that most likely we will not know how to do the things that are essential to creating healthy, vibrant, and strong romantic relationships.

Couples On Their Own

The reality is that most couples try for too long to figure these things out on their own, and are not willing to admit that they don’t have the skills.

Expecting that we should have skills when we never took a class or had a skilled teacher doesn’t really make sense. But when it comes to intimate relationships in our country we tend to have that expectation.

Most couples try to navigate complex relationship issues and dynamics far too long by themselves. Unfortunately, this can create even more damage as couples go along because it can result in insidious patterns of interactions that reinforce negative feelings, mistrust, and feelings of hopelessness about the relationship.

Waiting Too Long to Start Couples Therapy

And once couples decide that they are really struggling together and start to consider the option of couples therapy, they already have waited far too long.

If couples wait too long, the already challenging process of therapy becomes even harder; years of deeply embedded patterns of interaction that reinforce negative feelings and experiences are much harder to address and replace with new, more positive and loving interactions.

When it comes to couples therapy, timing is everything.

Expecting that we should have skills when we never took a class or had a skilled teacher doesn’t really make sense. But when it comes to romantic relationships in our country we tend to have that expectation.

My Mission as a Couple’s Therapist

I am writing this post today in the hope that I can help.

My mission in life is to help couples create romantic, sexual, and intimate relationships that thrive while understanding that this goal can be daunting.

How I strive to help couples is through a few different venues; one is the therapy process; the second is through my blog posts.

Reaching Couples Through My Blog

My blog posts are opportunities for me to educate and reach many more couples than I can through therapy.

My writings focus on teaching people how to heal from past hurts, how to envision the kind of relationship they truly desire, and how to transform a troubled relationship into one that thrives. 

And while therapy is an excellent opportunity to enrich, strengthen, and transform one’s relationship; I do believe that if we all had a toolbox of relationship skills that we acquired early in life, we would all have a better chance of creating healthy, vibrant relationships without the need for couples therapy.

Through my writing, I hope to educate my readers on how to build a strong, healthy marriage and/or significant relationship.

Peaceful Home, Peaceful World

At the heart of my desire for us all to create healthy, vibrant, thriving relationships is my belief that peace starts within our own hearts and home.

When so much of what happens in today’s world feels violent, scary, unloving and far from peaceful, we can easily feel overwhelmed and out of control in obtaining and sustaining loving, safe and peaceful experiences.

Recently I witnessed my daughter marry the love of her life. Part of their wedding vows was the promise to each other that the peace they desired for the world will start in their own home, within their marriage. I love this so much because it is a great way to begin to create more peace in this world.

I believe it is possible to create tiny pockets of peaceful, loving communities that start within our own homes, within our own intimate relationships, and extend outward into the larger world.

The more adults model love, peace, respect, kindness, and healthy interactions, the more children will grow up knowing how to love well, how to face conflict respectfully and kindly and how to integrate differences between people into positive relationships that thrive.

Build a positive, strong and thriving relationship by taking the initiative with five simple practices easily done in the comfort of one’s own home. 

Improve your Marriage Without Therapy bookHow to Improve Your Marriage without Therapy

My guide, How to Improve Your Marriage without Therapy, was my attempt to provide my readers with a simple, hands-on way to begin today to improve one’s relationship.

This guide was written as a way to help you build a toolbox of skills that do not require you to participate in couples therapy. It teaches readers how to build a positive, strong and thriving relationships by taking the initiative with five simple practices easily done in the comfort of one’s own home. 

By downloading my guide, How to Improve Your Marriage without Therapy, you will receive five simple steps that you can do at home that will make a positive impact on your relationship.

The five simple practices I outline in my guide are:

  • Gottman’s 5 to 1 ratio
  • Bader/Pearson’s Question of Attunement
  • Learning how to practice emotional self-awareness
  • The ineffectiveness of having solo conversations in your own head
  • And holding up a mirror to your partner

If couples could practice these five practices consistently at home, it may not heal all hurts and address deeper issues, but it will definitely set a strong foundation for positive interactions, building trust and increasing the possibility to create a secure attachment.

And once couples create a strong foundation based on trust and secure attachments, it is much easier to address issues that carry more depth to them.

Peace in the Journey,
Jane

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Jane Ryan

Jane Ryan, M.A., LMFT, is a Licensed Couples and Family Therapist with twenty years of clinical experience. She specializes in intimate relationships, sexual challenges, sacred sexuality, and helping clients embrace their true erotic nature. She supports women in discovering their most radiant, vibrant and powerful feminine essence.