It may sound idealistic to the layman’s ears, but when I ask couples what they are hoping to experience in their relationship, the answers I hear are sometimes harrowing.
“I just want to be in love.”
“I want a soul mate.”
“All I know is that I don’t want to end up like my parents’ marriage.”
“I want a partner who is my best friend and lover.”
“I just want to know they will never leave me.”
“I’m a person of very few needs. I just want to be happy.”
Beautiful statements, to be sure. But what actually makes love last? How do we know when we’ve found “The One”, and what certainty can we rely on to know they will never stray? How can a couple make sure they don’t repeat the patterns of the past and create a relational environment where they both feel nurtured, supported, autonomous, yet a deep and vulnerable intimacy?
Couples in the millennial generation have the hope and belief that such a relationship exists, yet many lack the skills, understanding, and personal development to actually attain it.
Being in a successful, long term relationship is not easy in today’s world. In fact, it never was. As therapists, helping couples rise above the challenges of growing apart, falling out of infatuation, losing jobs, dealing with death or caretaking ill parents, feeling imprisoned to financial debt, experiencing a plummet in sexual satisfaction, or navigating the impact of social media and technology on intimacy and trust will take an understanding of how our culture functions.
Due to the advancements of today’s dating culture, we are forgetting- or never really learned- how to commit. The reality that a person has infinite partner options in the palm of their hand (or smart phone) has led to a rampant plague of choice paradox, and an anxiety defined by self-doubt and fear of regret. Monogamous couples are up against great challenges in today’s consumer culture, where the belief of the grass being greener on the other side can often run individuals out of relationships as quickly as they ran in.
If you are a clinician who sees couples in your practice today, you are working with a couple impacted by the trends and advances of the Information Age. Do you know what it means when your client “swipes left”, “Netflix and chills”, or gets “catfished”? As therapists, it is our due diligence to understand the framework of our clients’ lives. Even more refined should our awareness be when it comes to couples. Relationship dynamics are constantly changing and reforming as our culture and generation grows. The expectations that individuals and couples have of themselves and of their intimate relationships are greater today than ever before.
Join us for a webinar presentation on millennial couples and relationships with Liz Higgins, LMFT. The webinar will focus on the unique implications to consider when working with couples in today’s culture, and will explore clinical considerations while working with these clients in your practice. Whether you work with engaged, newlywed, or long-term couples, there will be something to gain from this presentation. Register here.
Liz Higgins is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Dallas, TX. She is the creator of Millennial Life Counseling, a practice focused on helping couples and individuals with the challenges of dating, engagement, and marriage in the context of the millennial age. Liz’s relationship blogs have been featured on The Huffington Post, Today, The Gottman Institute Blog, Prepare-Enrich, and more. Liz has a publication in the AAMFT Magazine, and continues to write and speak on millennial trends related to couple dynamics.