Two Clinicians Offer Some Insight on Relationships

Are you experiencing a few hiccups in your relationship? Maybe feeling disconnected from your partner? Or maybe you’re just looking to continue growing with your loved one?  

Relationships can be difficult and it is easy to get discouraged at times. There are so many different opinions out there about how to make a relationship last, but do they actually work? Thankfully there are some very talented clinicians in the office who have worked with many couples throughout their careers.  Michelle Kane, PsyD. and Dortch Mann, LCMHC have happily shared some topics they have noticed during their work with couples.  

Have you noticed problems in communication or connection?  

Most couples Michelle meets with come in wanting to work on “communication.”  However, what she typically finds as the cause of their poor communication is actually a lack of connection. We, as humans, generally lack all the necessary information needed to fully understand what a person means when they are communicating, often causing it to be imperfect. If our connection is lacking with our significant other when this poor communication occurs, we will likely fill in the blanks with something negative. However, when we are well connected with our significant other, we are much more likely to fill in the blanks with something positive, assuming they have the best intentions.  

For example, when well connected with our partner, we may decide that “Are you cooking dinner tonight?” is a genuine, curious question. However, when lacking connection we might see it as a demand to hit the kitchen or an indictment of not cooking enough. 

You might be thinking, “Well how do I deepen my connection to improve communication?”

Connecting on a deeper level takes time and often times effort. Perhaps more simply, be mindful of small opportunities to connect on a more regular basis. This might look like checking in with each other regularly or finding small amounts of time to be present with each other during otherwise chaotic days. 

For more information on this, check out John Gottman’s work on bids for connection. He has a blog and many difference resources available on his website.  

Dortch Mann mentioned that the reason couples come to him is most often due to unmet expectations. These unmet expectations are usually viewed by couple as a “problem to be solved.” They come in thinking that something, from their perspective, needs to be “fixed” and they’re hoping he can help. 

Dortch loves to help couples see that, in many cases, they don’t need to “solve” a problem. Instead, they need to “outgrow” it. Many times, he finds that couples can simply outgrow the problem by focusing on this: 

What do we hope we will create (or nurture)?  

Through his experience he has found that hope is more motivating, more resilient, and much more sustainable than expectations. Hope grows. He finds that moving couple closer to “hope” and further from their “fix it” mindset fosters more fruitful and enjoyable relationships.  

Maybe this month, you prioritize sitting down with your significant other and looking at problems that you as a couple can “outgrow” instead of focusing on the need to “fix” them.  Ask them what they are hoping to create or nurture in the relationship. Then ask yourself what you’re hoping to create or nurture in the relationship.  

Michelle Kayne, PsyD  
Dortch Mann, LCMHC

You can find more about both these clinicians and others on our website!

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