Let’s Take it From the Top

Couples Therapy Bethesda, MD

One of the most frequent concerns I hear from couples seeking therapy is that they are unable to effectively communicate with their spouse or partner without the conversation devolving into an unproductive argument. Topics that seem neutral suddenly become fraught with tension, and before they know it, one or both partners are upset and the conversation eventually draws to an unresolved close. This pattern, combined with mounting responsibilities and increasing time demands, leaves many couples with little time to connect with each other in meaningful ways.

So when I sit across from couples for the first time, I am unsurprised to hear that communication is a primary concern. One of my initial goals as I get to know them is to help each partner clarify what brings them to therapy at this time. Many couples find, to their surprise, that they are unable to articulate exactly how or when issues began to crop up in their relationship. And that’s when I say “That’s okay. Let’s take it from the top.”

When I ask clients to “take it from the top,” I am inviting them on a journey toward rediscovering the trajectory of their relationship from a new perspective. I ask them questions such as, “How did you meet?” “What attracted you to him/her?” “What’s one thing that you remember about your partner from the first time you met?” “What was it like to meet his/her family for the first time?” By slowing down and exploring their years together, couples often find that retelling their relationship story is filled with many positive and joyful memories.

By taking it from the top, it not only becomes easier to understand when things became difficult, but also to note the wonderful times that kept both partners happy and motivated to remain in the relationship. By maintaining a balanced perspective, couples may begin to abandon criticism and contempt and reconnect over memories that only they share.

When couples invest time in “taking it from the top” with each other, they often are surprised at how much happiness some of the recollections may produce. The next time you have some downtime with your partner, take a trip down memory lane together. You may be surprised by the joy you both uncover.