Marital therapy is available for couples having difficulty in their relationship or when the identified patient is their child who is in therapy with another doctor. The preferred approach of treatment with couples is a solution focused, short term and evidence-based therapy that improves communication and solves problems within family.
Some of the more prevalent problems that couples face are when there are unrealistic expectations or faulty causal attributions (Blaming the partner as a person rather than focusing on the problem behavior). Both research and our experience suggest that marital problems can often develop when a person may have unrealistic expectations about the other spouse which usually turn out to be quite different from actual behaviors of that individual. This, in turn, often triggers thoughts and ideas that then prompt intense emotional reactions such as rage or despair (or both). In response to this, the relationship changes once more which only sets the cycle in motion again and again in a vicious cycle. Examples of common unrealistic expectations are: 1) disagreement should always be avoided because it always is destructive, 2) if the other is truly in love they should know their partner’s needs without me having to say anything, or 3) my spouse cannot change, and 4) men and women are so different they cannot find common ground.
Causal attributions are another common pitfall in a marriage which often results in dissatisfaction. This occurs when a distressed couple develops a pattern of blaming their spouse for the problems. This always perpetuates feelings of unhappiness over time. Blaming unchangeable characteristics of a spouse for his/her negative behaviors and discounting any positive actions defeats any problem-solving steps. This is because it forces the only possibility of a solution to be outside themselves (or the marriage) and therefore external to the real problems. This dead ends the discussions since change and improvement are not possible. One of the goals of therapy is to guide couples away from self-defeating patterns so that progress is made.
Complimented by teaching couples good communication skills and a positive relationship with the therapist, marital therapy is effective and a opportunity to make meaningful and lasting improvements in the marriage as a more rewarding partnership.