Couples Counseling

Couples & Marriage Counseling

Whatever the case, and no matter the shape of your relationship, marriage and couples counseling gives you a chance to open up about your problems and explore how you and your partner can grow, reconcile and fall back in love.

I’m Alayna Baillod, LCSW and owner of Self Care Impact Counseling.  Our team of professionals specialize in Couples and Marriage Counseling and we’d like to help you!

Are You And Your Significant Other Feeling Stuck?

Is your relationship going through a rough patch? Do you and your partner feel trapped in the same negative cycles day after day? Maybe your conversations—once so pleasant—are now full of nothing but name-calling, bickering, and passive-aggressive criticism. You might feel like you’re walking on hot coals with your spouse, always bracing yourself for the next shouting match. Or perhaps it’s more subtle; you’re not fighting 24/7, but you just don’t feel “in love” anymore. Maybe there’s simply an unexplained lack of affection, communication, or even trust.

Relationships—yes, even the most loving and committed ones—can grow stale for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s due to the underlying stress of financial issues, busy schedules, or child-rearing. The loss of a loved one can also cut into the fabric of a relationship, distracting you from the romance you once had. Other times, the reasons may be more obvious. For instance, maybe one partner has a substance abuse problem, or even a history of cheating. Then again, maybe you can’t even pinpoint why your relationship’s grown stale. You might feel like you and your partner are just sleepwalking through life together, like you’ve simply faded out of love over the years. 

Whatever the case, and no matter the shape of your relationship, marriage and couples counseling gives you a chance to open up about your problems and explore how you and your partner can grow, reconcile and fall back in love.

The Couples That Struggle Together Stay Together

There are many, many reasons why relationships dissolve, but according to relationship theorist John Gottman, there are two major causes. The first is called stonewalling. Stonewalling is exactly what it sounds like: when a couple is fighting, one member shuts down, or withdraws. They build an invisible “wall” between them and their spouse, refusing to address the conflict and reconcile their differences. This allows the problems at the heart of their relationship to fester, and leads to serious breakdowns in communication.  So, if you and your partner can’t communicate, you can’t understand each other’s feelings. And if you can’t understand each other’s feelings, you can’t understand what the other person wants—most importantly, how they want to be loved. 

The Role of Contempt

The other major contributor to separation and divorce is contempt. Rather than a breakdown in communication, contempt is essentially a breakdown in respect. Contempt is one person telling another: “I’m superior to you.” It’s deliberately putting someone down—teasing them, critiquing their every move, and using humor as a tool of hostility. Contempt manifests itself in body language—lots of eye-rolling, snickering, and mocking smiles. When two people lose respect for each other, they no longer see each other on equal footing.   As a result this makes love between them nearly impossible.

Good News!

Where’s the good news in all this drudgery? Well, the good news is that in order to grow, every healthy relationship has to endure conflict. Though your Facebook feed might suggest otherwise, the couples with the strongest connections are the ones who have struggled together. The selfie-happy husband and wife who flaunt every moment of their romantic daydream all over social media probably aren’t as content as they seem.  So, in order for love to deepen, it has to experience pain. The question is: are you actively trying to work through the pain together, or withdrawing from it? Are you trying to understand your partner’s feelings, or putting your partner’s feelings down? 

As couples therapists, we understand it’s hard to work through the pain alone. By ourselves, we tend to become fixated on our own subjective reality, our own little world. We often expect other people to behave as we behave, to think as we think. That’s why having a third party with a fresh perspective is so vital to reconciling differences in a relationship. 

Couples Therapy Can Help You Reconcile Your Differences And Fall Back In Love

Marriage therapy gives you a chance to understand the negative cycles your relationship keeps falling into. It gives you the opportunity to recognize where these patterns come from and how to break out of them. For instance, in an argument with your spouse, you may seem angry on the outside, but feel anxious on the inside. Your anxiety may stem from other negative cycles in your life, such as past trauma, heartbreak, or betrayal. My practice aims to get to the root of your feelings so you can express them in place of your anger, ensuring healthier communication.

Our First Session

Our first counseling session will be a 90-minute meeting with you and your partner or spouse. Here, we will assess the relationship’s strengths and target the areas for improvement. Afterward, there will be two 60-minute follow-up sessions where I’ll meet with you both individually. Both of you will also complete a little preliminary online evaluation. This assessment (it won’t take long) asks questions about your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses and overall level of satisfaction. When this preliminary work is done, we will return to standard two-on-one couples counseling to focus on building greater communication, trust and affection. 

We offer counseling services to any couple—straight, gay, lesbian, trans, married and unmarried. We are well-versed in a number of different therapeutic approaches, but the two we most commonly use are Gottman’s theory of relationships and Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT). Gottman’s theory is a very skills-based approach to relationships that focuses on playing to your strengths to resolve conflict. The EFT approach digs a little deeper. It looks at how understanding a relationship’s negative cycles can prevent them from unconsciously happening again and again.

Our hope is that, by focusing on your strengths, understanding negative patterns of behavior, and learning to reconcile your differences, you really can fall in love again. We don’t mean you’ll never face conflict, or that your marriage will turn into some starry Hollywood daydream.  We simply mean you’ll be more prepared and equipped to face conflict when it happens. When we work together, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

You may have some concerns about couples counseling….

Doesn’t going to marriage counseling mean we’re about to divorce? 

If relationships grow by working through conflict, think of couples counseling as just another step in that continual process of growth. Far from a sign of giving up, going to therapy is a sign of commitment. It shows you’re actively committed to saving your relationship. It shows you love your significant other enough to invest time and money in preserving your love for them. That being said, if you do want a divorce or break up, we offer separation and divorce counseling. We will wholeheartedly support you either way. 

Can going to marriage counseling really help?

Yes, it absolutely can. Studies have repeatedly shown that couples therapy, using a Gottman-centered approach, leads to greater marital intimacy and satisfaction. The beauty of Gottman’s theory is that it gives you specific skills to utilize in the midst of conflict. On our own, we tend to resort to the same old behavioral patterns and ways of thinking. Gottman’s approach focuses on giving you techniques to replace these entrenched habits. 

What if my partner had an affair or has a substance abuse problem?

As devastating as an affair can be, therapy can still help. No relationship is ever beyond the point of healing. You’d be surprised how many couples rebound from a cheating problem. Likewise with substance abuse; the real issue is not the drinking or drug addiction itself, but failing to address the underlying problem behind it. With the right communication and awareness of negative cycles, we are confident you and your partner can rebound.

Helpful Reading

Marriage Counseling Can Save Your Relationship

We offer counseling services in Lakewood, Colorado. If you’re ready to contact a marriage therapist, we invite you to call our practice owner, Alayna, at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation.  Alayna will match you with the appropriate person on our team. You can schedule your appointment via email, phone, or the scheduling system on our website. Right now, because of COVID-19, we offer both online and in-person marital counseling. We look forward to hearing from you!