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Should You Expect – Or Want – Unconditional Love From Your Partner?

Should You Expect – Or Want – Unconditional Love From Your Partner?

There is this believe about marriage and relationships that love is, or should be, unconditional. That when we have found our “True Love,” it means that we are with someone that should love us at all times. There is even a popular saying about it.

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

We can have unconditional love for our children. But with our partner, not only is love typically not “unconditional,” but it also shouldn’t be. There are many valid, positive reasons for love not to be unconditional. We should always have expectations not only of our partner, but of ourselves.

Why Shouldn’t Love Be Unconditional?

Life is not a straight line, and two people are not always the same people with the same positive, honeymoon like dynamic. Throughout life as a couple, you and your partner are going to be experiencing constant ups and downs. You’re going to be faced with challenges and setbacks. You’ll also be changing often as people. Most people change considerably in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.

In order to keep the love strong, a couple needs to also be motivated to change who they are and continually establish and re-establish their role in the relationship with their partner. Love has to be reciprocal and complementary in order to grow.

Unconditional love implies that, should someone make absolutely no effort, both partners should accept this openly and gleefully. It’s this assumption that your “worst” can be pretty much anything – crime, abuse, etc. – and you should put up with it, because you promised yourself and that person you would love them unconditionally.

Relationships that are unconditional provide no motivation for the other person to better themselves, and for both partners to put in effort in the relationship. Not only do truly unconditional romantic relationships rarely exist, the most successful couples are often the ones that feel a responsibility to keep the relationship going strong – the people that want to make sure they never lose it.

Couples Counseling and Growing as a Team

You can love your children unconditionally. But you and your partner benefit from feeling at least a little bit of pressure to evaluate your own behaviors and work on yourselves. The more you feel motivated to keep the relationship growing and thriving, the more you are putting yourself in a position to help it truly last.

Couples counseling is one way that both partners can learn to grow for themselves or each other. It provides an opportunity to help guide you as a couple into learning more about what your partner is thinking and what they need.

If you’re in need of couples counseling in Brooklyn, or anywhere in NYC, please contact Flourish Psychology today.

Couples Counseling After Divorce – Benefits for Couples with Kids

Couples Counseling After Divorce – Benefits for Couples with Kids

Most people are aware of couples counseling, often viewing it as a last resort for when marriages and relationships are on the brink of failure. We at Flourish Psychology in Brooklyn are trying to reframe the idea of couples counseling for what it really is: a way to learn how to better communicate and understand each other to grow a relationship.

Couples counseling is about skill building and creating better understanding between couples. It is about:

  • Learning how to communicate.
  • Learning how to manage your lives together and apart.
  • Learning how to parent together, and/or engage in activities together.

While these tools are going to have some of their greatest benefit to couples currently in a relationship that are looking for ways to address arguments or enhance their intimacy, they are skills that benefit people in ways far beyond the marriage alone.

How You Communicate Post-Divorce

In some cases, post divorce, both couples move on with their lives and never have any additional contact. But those situations are rare. Typically, with or without kids, the couple is going to still be in ongoing contact. They may share friends, they may live in the same area, they may still have a relationship in some form after the marriage is over.

If kids are involved, the likelihood of ongoing contact is even greater. Both partners are going to be tasked with coparenting and navigating the world as separate individuals with children in common. Anger, aggression, frustration, and sadness can all get in the way of that. That is why, even if a couple is certain that they are not right for each other, couples counseling may have many benefits.

Through couples counseling, we can work on many important issues that affect post-divorce couples:

  • How to communicate effectively about the needs of the children.
  • How to accept the other person’s life they have for the child.
  • How to make sure that issues relating to assets are navigated.
  • How to handle any conflict that may arise later.
  • How to cope with uncommunicated feelings that come up when alone.

Rarely does divorce mean the end of communication between both parties, and if there are children in the marriage, then that becomes even more likely that both of you are going to still be in regular contact. Not only will you be communicating regularly, but after a divorce, each partner is not able to police how the other partner acts, so you are likely to have disagreements with issues like parenting.

This is why couples counseling in Brooklyn and NYC can be so important, even after a divorce. Couples counseling is not only about saving your marriage. It is about gaining the skills needed to continue to function together in a way that is best for both of your mental health and happiness – and possibly that of your children as well. Learn more about couples counseling or get started with Flourish Psychology, today.

When an Amicable Divorce is the Goal

When an Amicable Divorce is the Goal

The ultimate goal of couples counseling is to try to repair and grow a relationship. Most people seek couples counseling in an effort to address communication difficulties, overcome challenges, and learn how to grow together. Through our sessions, we use techniques specifically aimed at addressing these concerns and helping you become a better, stronger, happier overall couple.

Still, it is important to recognize that not all relationships are successful. Not all relationships are even meant to be. Sometimes, there are challenges that cannot be overcome, or there are relationships that – when you go back to how the relationship started – are not necessarily ones that were meant to be.

Even in these situations – situations where it is clear that the relationship has reached its end – there are goals that you need to complete as a couple. One of which is the idea of an amicable and uncontested divorce.

The Lifelong Value of an Amicable Divorce

Relationships, in many ways, never really end. We carry these emotions and memories with us each and every day. We think about that person often – maybe not as often as we did before, but they had an impact on our lives that we are unlikely to forget. If there are children involved, or if the person plays a role in our life that is likely to continue onward (for example, business ownership), then the odds are even greater that the person will always be a part of our lives in some form.

That is why couples counseling can – and often should – be considered even for those that may not necessarily want to keep the relationship together. Holding on to high emotions runs the risk of causing ongoing issues:

  • Ongoing stress when you have to communicate with your partner.
  • Ongoing anxiety when you’re dealing with family issues.
  • Ongoing relationship issues from broken trust or other struggles.

This idea that a divorce is final is not necessarily accurate. A person will continue to be in our lives in some form, either through memories or through interactions. Divorce itself can also be a difficult process, one that people are more likely to navigate in less emotionally healthy ways when they are feeling angry or upset.

It is in a couple’s best interests to try to work on their issues even if continuing the marriage is no longer the end goal. The long term value that it can have to your mental health – and the value that it can have to any kids involved – makes it clear that learning to better communicate and understand each other is always of value.

Even if you have decided not to move forward, it is best to consider still working through these issues so that you can divorce in amicable terms and come up with solutions that are in the best interests of both of you, along with any children or other interested parties. Contact us today to learn more about our couples counseling in NYC.

Individual Therapy For A Better Relationship

Individual Therapy For A Better Relationship

Love, trust, and mutual understanding are the cornerstones of a healthy relationship. But relationships, like people, are complex and multifaceted. They are built on the unique personalities, experiences, and struggles of each partner. A healthy relationship thrives when both partners can bring their best selves to it. But what if individual struggles are holding you back from being your best self?

At Flourish Psychology, we understand that the key to a thriving relationship often lies in personal growth and healing. That’s why individual therapy can be a vital component in strengthening not just you as a person, but your relationship as a whole.

The Connection Between Self And Relationship

The state of a relationship can often mirror the state of the individuals within it. If personal struggles, stress, anxiety, or depression weigh you down, these feelings can translate into the relationship, manifesting as tension, misunderstandings, or even estrangement.

How Can Individual Therapy Help?

By focusing on yourself and addressing the specific challenges you face, individual therapy can lead to significant growth in various ways:

  • Understanding Yourself – Therapy helps you uncover your inner thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Recognizing these aspects helps you communicate more effectively with your partner.
  • Building Resilience – Learning how to cope with individual stresses can reduce their impact on the relationship, making space for empathy and compassion.
  • Healing Past Traumas – Many relationship challenges stem from unresolved past traumas. Therapy offers a safe space to heal, allowing you to move forward with your partner without the burdens of the past.
  • Enhancing Communication Skills – Therapists can teach communication strategies tailored to your needs, promoting healthier conversations with your partner.

Therapy teaches you to understand and love yourself better while also helping you overcome distractions and stresses. Those improvements have a way of affecting a relationship for the better as well.

The Journey Toward A Stronger Relationship

Flourish Psychology offers individual therapy that acknowledges the unique context of your life, including your relationships. We believe that a stronger, more fulfilled individual leads to a more loving and supportive partnership.

  • Personalized Care – Our therapists work with you to understand your specific situation and develop a tailored approach that addresses your unique needs.
  • A Safe Space – Therapy is a confidential and judgment-free zone where you can openly discuss your fears, struggles, and hopes.
  • Expert Guidance – With the support of professional therapists, you will explore strategies and tools to enrich both your personal life and your relationship.

As a boutique private practice in NYC, we create an environment designed around helping you thrive as an individual, which in turn helps you thrive as a couple.

It Starts With You

Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship in your life, including the one with your partner. Investing in individual therapy can be a vital step in fostering a better relationship with yourself and, in turn, with the ones you love.

Talk to Flourish Psychology today for individual therapy in NY. We are committed to your growth and the flourishing of your relationships, offering services for anyone in the entire state.

The Couples Counseling Multiverse: Communicating Across Realities

The Couples Counseling Multiverse: Communicating Across Realities

Relationships are made up of two completely different people. It does not matter if you have similar opinions, dealt with similar life traumas, or agree on everything. You are two different people that experience the world two completely different ways.

On some level, we know this. We recognize that our partners are different from us. But what we often fail to realize is that they are not just different. They have a completely different reality. Understanding this can go a long way toward helping you communicate with each other.

You Are The Protagonist of Your Own Reality – and So Are They

No one exists in this world except for you. If you think about consciousness as a concept, the way our minds see the world is the way only *our* minds see the world. As far as our consciousness is concerned, the universe only exists as long as we can perceive it. Our brains are what create reality.

But while our brains create our reality, our partner’s brains create their reality. They process emotions differently when they do. They experience events differently when they do. Their mind works differently than ours.

There is a word for this in the field of philosophy: Qualia. It is the idea that many or all of our experiences in life are subjective, and so two people – even if they are looking at the same color or seeing the same event – are actually seeing it the exact same way.

A more modern example might be to consider it like a multiverse. Our partner exists in our universe, and we exist in theirs, but we are not in the same universe, because we are not perceiving the world the same way our partner is, and vice versa.

Communicating Through Our Different Experiences

Once we understand that our partners are experiencing a different reality, we can then understand why it is often so hard for us to understand their point of view and see why they feel the way they do.

Most of us do not spend nearly enough time trying to see things from our partners’ perspective. But even when we do, most of us try to understand our partner by picturing our partner in the world as *we* see it. We do not take the time to imagine their reality. We only imagine our reality and try to figure out how our partner feels based on the way we see them.

Couples Counseling Improves Perspective and Communication

Part of the couples counseling process is to address exactly this: to know our partner’s feelings, beliefs, and perspective so intimately, that we can actually rethink how our partner sees the world and truly live in their shoes. We try to understand each partner’s emotions, traumas, needs, and experiences so well that we can actually see our own world and reality differently.

We may never really be able to see the world the exact way our partner does, but if we can at least understand that they have their own reality and take steps to learn more about what that reality is like, we can start communicating with our partners in ways that are more emotionally healthy and with greater love and care.  

Bids, Attention, and the Gottman Method of Therapy

Bids, Attention, and the Gottman Method of Therapy

The Gottman Method of couples counseling has many interesting concepts that address some of the ways that our behaviors play a role in relationship satisfaction. One of those concepts is called “bids.” Multiple times throughout the day, a partner uses these “bids” with the other partner, and how the other partner responds to these bids plays a key role in how happy both partners feel about each other.

What Are Bids?

“Bids” is shorthand for the need for some type of positive interaction with a partner. When a person makes a “bid,” they are typically asking for something like attention, love, support, affection, or intimacy. Examples might include reaching for a partner’s hand or asking the partner to cook with them. Sometimes, the bids are not necessarily a request, but the beginning of something, like asking a question to them when they walk into a room like “how was work?”

Bids occur many, many times during the day, often by both partners.

What Are “Bid Responses?”

When one partner makes a “Bid,” the other partner is tasked with responding. According to the Gottman Method, bids may receive the following three response types:

  • Turning Towards – Turning towards the bid is the act of responding to the bid at all. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person engages with each bid, but it does mean that there is a positive acknowledgment, gesture, or some type of interaction that indicates that the bid has been received.
  • Turning Away – Turning “away” in this case means ignoring the bid or not responding positively. For example, not moving when someone reaches to hold hands or staring at their phone instead of responding to a question. Turning “away” is not necessarily a hostile gesture, but showing disinterest or not prioritizing the response to a bid.
  • Turning Against – Turning “against” is actively rejecting the bid. These have a bit of a hostile component, such as purposefully moving a hand away, negatively responding to a question, or pushing someone away when they move in for a kiss. 

Turning away or turning against are both potentially damaging to the relationship. But it should be noted that these actions are not always conscious or designed to be hostile. Sometimes, it is an action taken because they do not have an awareness that their partner is making a “Bid.” 

How Responding to Bids Can Improve Relationships

When a couple is having problems, the therapist may look at examples of these bids and work with the couple to teach a higher frequency of positive bid responses. The goal is to teach the idea of “turning toward” more often. Couples that “Turn Toward” and respond more positively to bids are more likely to feel positive and more connected in their relationship. By improving this intimacy, the couple is more likely to feel happy and satisfied with their partner. 

If you’re interested in couples counseling and/or the Gottman Method, please contact Flourish Psychology, today.