Couples therapy is hard work.
Although this process is incredibly rewarding, the beginning of this journey can be especially challenging. Couples oftentimes start therapy in a state of crisis involving intense hurt and panic. Sometimes, they can carry with them fear and worry that talking honestly and vulnerably might make things worse. For many couples, the act of seeking couples therapy is perceived as an indicator that they have already found themselves in a “bad place,” that their relationship is at risk, or that it’s too late to save it. It is not uncommon to experience grief towards various elements within the relationship, even while holding hope and engaging in the process of improving and healing.
It is normal to feel grief for:
- Shattered expectations and dreams
- Broken promises to never hurt each other
- A sense of squandered efforts
- Loss of trust
- Loss of emotional safety within the relationship
- Loss of identity
- Loss of knowing how to reach each other
- Loss of a sense of partnership
While partners long to be loved and cherished, to be a priority, to be known, grief can be felt in the loneliness, sadness, feeling stuck, being misunderstood, and in wondering if the connection can be rediscovered.
Grief can occur alongside positive experiences – one does not negate the other.
Couples therapy is such a dance of risking and responding. Many couples experience discouragement and drop into their grief-influenced stories when these fragile and hopeful moments of trying to reach each other seem unsuccessful.
Many partners are hesitant to name their grief and may feel:
- As though their experience of loss or grief is inappropriate or unwarranted
- Like they shouldn’t tell their partner about these feelings because it may upset or scare them
- That they should work through it alone
Grief is the response to loss.
It is something to be honored, not something to be pushed aside and stuffed away. It is the result of someone or something mattering, and it begs to be moved from the inside out. Many partners actually feel soothed to know that their partner is also greatly impacted by emotional distance within the relationship. It lets them know that their relationship is important to their partner, that they are important.
Time alone does not heal grief.
It’s what happens within the time that matters. When couples take the risk of sharing and responding to each other, deep understanding and mutual restoration can unfold. Bring your grief to your therapist so that it can be given a voice and an entrance for your partner to join you in the darkness as you search for light together.
If you feel grief over your relationship, schedule a counseling session with one of our Greenwood Village relationship therapists today!