About Lu Ann Ahrens
My first job out of undergraduate school was at a large medical center in the Midwest where my job was to help hospitalized children adjust to their hospital experience. I also provided supportive counseling to the parents. It didn’t take long to notice something interesting about the parents of these very sick and sometimes terminal children. Having a very sick child took its toll on the parents’ relationship. My informal observation noted that probably half or more of the parents who started the hospital experience as an intact couple actually ended their experience still intact. It was far too often that the parents ended up either divorced or separated. I started asking a lot of questions about “Why?” Why could one set of parents make it and another couple, that was in similar circumstances, could not survive this ordeal? I have carried that question with me for a very long time. Only recently did I find answers.
Since my years at hospital my husband and I have gone on to have three children of our own. We’re now empty-nesters. Watching three children grow into competent adults, who can contribute to society, is extremely rewarding. Raising children does not happen by accident. You have to parent on purpose from Day One. This takes energy and commitment. Many couples sacrifice their marriages in order to raise their children. But, the truth is that the relationship that created the children cannot take the backseat. A marriage has to be nurtured right along with the kids and it has to be nurtured after they leave. A marriage is an investment. When a couple can make a marriage work, a legacy is left for the children. There’s just too much at stake to just let a marriage die on the vine, so-to-speak. I put my own career on hold until my oldest child left for college.
When I returned to college to pursue a Master’s Degree in Counseling, I also wanted to find answers to my early questions about couples. My goal was to work with couples, especially those who were stuck in their relationships. I learned a lot about techniques to help couples fight better, communicate better, and even how to make their marriage more of a priority. But, precious little made a difference. The best theories boasted at best a 30% chance of improvement. Those numbers are abysmal.
I happened upon Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT or EFCT) in 2007. Not only did I feel that I was “home” as a therapist, but I found answers to the questions I was seeking. Improvement rates with EFT are around 80%! EFT provides a theory of love that helps to explain why couples become disconnected and derailed in their marriages. All of us have a universal need to know that there is at least one other person on this planet, who has our back. We enter a marriage believing that our spouse will be that person for us. When that doesn’t happen, we are rocked at the very core of our being and we react. Unfortunately, our reactions often send our spouse in the opposite direction as our spouse misreads our cues to reconnect. If this sounds like your experience, you will benefit from couples therapy. If you’d like to know more about EFT, www.eft.ca is the official website about EFT.
I love working with couples. It is a privilege to be a part of the rebuilding of a marriage. Don’t throw your marriage away without looking for answers and trying something different. After all if you’re stuck in your marriage, the old way hasn’t been working. It’s time to change the old patterns!
By: Lu An Ahrens, Marriage & Couples Counseling Riverside, San Bernardino County