Physical Therapy for Your Relationship

[ 0 ] June 3, 2011 |

Marriage expert Rachel Sussman gives tools for preventing a couples fight down the road …

After a recent trip to the ballet, I read a fascinating article about the tremendous amount of knowledge and science that goes into keeping professional dancers in top form. Dance is so demanding on the body and a serious injury can be a huge set back for a performer resulting in a lengthy recovery. Today, highly skilled physical therapists help dancers know the limitations of their bodies and give them tools for preventing injuries. PTs also teach dancers to make accurate assessments because catching an injury early can dramatically improve the outcome and prevent a more serious injury down the road.

As a couple’s therapist, this wise philosophy really resonates with me. I try to teach individuals and couples to identify potential problems and create lasting solutions before the problems become embedded in the relationship. When troubles are caught early on and worked through in a mature solution-focused style, this can be a real “teaching moment” for a couple. They prove to themselves that they have the skills to work through any difficulty, and that becomes a model they can use for the duration of their relationship.

Relationships run into trouble when problems go untreated and are left to fester over a prolonged period of time. This pattern will eventually erode the love bond and create an unnecessary layer of strain in a relationship. Once that occurs, the littlest argument can turn into a monumental battle. And, when you are in these unchartered territories, finding your way back home becomes quite the challenge.

I think it makes a great deal of sense for all of us to use the same assessment tool that benefits professional dancers; be very aware of your patterns and catch potentially destructive behavior before it takes a lasting toll on your relationship. In other words, to keep your romance on track a) be accountable for your own behavior, and b) to make a commitment to perform in a way that is conducive for a healthy partnership.

Here’s how to create a spectacular Physical Therapy plan for your relationship:

Rachel Sussman

1) Become extremely familiar with your own “personal limitations.” For example, I’m someone who needs good quality sleep to function optimally and if I’m sleep deprived, it will negatively affect my mood. What may your limitations be? Are you over (or under) sensitive? Might you be a bit selfish or too selfless? Could you be a better listener or more empathetic? Do you struggle with tardiness or organizational difficulties? Could you be more responsible with your finances? Do you need to eat and/or drink with more moderation? Remember, no one is perfect and it’s strength to admit your weak points. Plus, it gives you something to strive for.

2)  Create awareness about how your behavior impacts your relationship. We all do things that irritate our partner and it’s key to understand what that “something” is. Many people will say to me when their relationship is ending, “Well he complained to me about that for years, but I never took him seriously.” Please listen to your partner’s gripes without being defensive – this is good information and you can learn and grow from it.

3) Make a plan to change your problematic behavior. When you are able to identify a problem in your behavior and then ameliorate it, it is such a powerful feeling! This will make you a better person, and it will prove to your partner that you really care about how you behave and are perceived.

4) Give yourself a big hug. It takes courage to look at ourselves in an honest way and hard work to make changes. You’ve done a huge service to yourself and your relationship. Great job!

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Category: Dating, Marriage, Relationships

Rachel Sussman, LCSW

About Rachel Sussman, LCSW: RACHEL A. SUSSMAN, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and is the founder of Sussman Counseling, a psychotherapy practice specializing in treating couples and individuals with relationship dilemmas. Rachel is the author of the forthcoming book [...]
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