roadINTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS PROVIDE SOME OF LIFE’S GREATEST PLEASURES AND MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGES. Perhaps you’re seeking professional help because an affair has rocked your marriage. Or you and your partner are stuck in a cycle of blame and avoidance that’s turned you into combatants or exhausted strangers who occupy the same space but live in different universes. Or maybe you’re just tired of feeling lonely and bored with a partner who’s kind, but preoccupied.

At some point in most relationships, the passionate intensity of first-blush romance dissipates and deeper emotional needs begin to clamor for recognition. One partner may exert subtle but constant pressure on the other to change the status quo; another may live stoically, holding onto growing frustration rather than express it and rock the boat; and yet another may express shock and disbelief that anything can possibly be wrong.

When anger and resentment start to flow, both partners feel threatened. They can retreat into separate, self-protective strategies that undermine intimacy and deaden desire: withdrawal and silence, criticism and pursuit, defensiveness, contempt.

Whatever life challenges bring you to therapy, a new awareness grows at the heart of a rekindled marriage: partners are the two people in the world best positioned to help each other heal old wounds and fulfill important longings. They occupy a privileged ecosystem where their words and actions — and inactions — have immediate consequences. They are the custodians of each other’s hearts.

quotes-red“Van is all about the down and dirty. He helped us figure out the deeper stuff that motivates and drives our conflicts, miscommunications, and less-than-ideal treatment of each other. He could explain what he was seeing to each of us in ways we could understand, and helped us learn to STOP in our tracks and choose differently to produce a different outcome — understanding instead of anger, intimacy instead of distance, connection instead of separation.”