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This cartoon is playfully illustrating the ways we can get stuck in our relationships. While being in a relationship can be profoundly rewarding and fulfilling, it can also be really painful and downright hard.

Why is it so hard? 
One reason is that, for all of us, being in a couple

elicits feelings of 'dependency.' We come to rely on our partner for support, comfort, love, attention, and even practical needs such as financial stability and co-parenting. The stakes can feel quite high when it's difficult to see eye to eye. There is so much that needs to be negotiated in a couple, such as: my needs vs. your needs, separateness vs. togetherness, similarity vs. difference.

In addition, being in a couple, and being dependent on another reignites the ways we may not have gotten enough support and love as young children. We can sometimes confuse our partner with our disappointing parents and replay old patterns of hurt and disappointment. Given that there are two people feeling this way, it can become quite difficult to sort out the past from the present; especially since we were likely drawn to our partner, in part, because they may have felt comfortable in some ways that already repeated our past experiences. The fact that we are feeling hurt or disappointed or misunderstood, then, is not only a product of each person's past, but also a very real experience in the present. The work of couples therapy is to sort all of this out. 

Mel Calman

In couples therapy each partner has the opportunity to learn about why they came together, what they saw and wanted from one another and how they may have gotten off track. Old hurts from the past can be brought forth, thought about (sometimes for the first time) in the context of the difficulties of the present. As your therapist, I help you learn or relearn how to use the couple as a source of strength, by reinforcing the bond, communication, and the sense of security. 

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