The poet Rilke says, “For one person to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult task of all, the work for which all other work is but a preparation.” Every couples is faced with learning how to recognize, integrate and celebrate their differences. Each partner must also learn how to balance their commitment to their personal creative journey with their commitment to cultivating a sense of openness, connection and vitality in their relationship.

Couples must become skillful in navigating many roles if they are going to develop and thrive. They must learn how to be lovers, good friends, practical allies in the business of running their relationship, and if they have children, co-parents. Doing all of this in the context of our highly pressured social and economic environment is challenging. It is no wonder that many couples lose a sense of enjoyment in their connection or develop dysfunctional roles and destructive patterns of communicating.

In my work with couples, I help you to develop healthy communication patterns both verbally and non-verbally. I also help you to be clear about what role you are in (parent, lover, friend), what the goals of that role are, and what behaviors will be most effective to reach your goals. In this process, you may examine the strategies and patterns that you have inherited from your parents and the ways that you have been socialized. I also help you to develop a creative and pleasurable connection with each role and to cultivate your capacity to attend to the playful spark of passion that drew you together in the first place. In this process you will learn how to be both separate and connected. You will also learn how to avoid the pitfalls of defensiveness, contempt, stonewalling, and criticism, and to take full responsibility for creating the kind of relationship that you want to be a part of. I bring to this work my own experience of 35 years of marriage and 27 years of parenting.

Michael Robbins, LMHC – Licensed Couples and Marriage Therapist providing Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy in Somerville, Cambridge, and Arlington, MA, Massachusetts