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The Biggest Problem In ALL Relationships with MFT Gayane Aramyan
We have Gayane Aramyan who is a marriage and family therapist. Welcome, Gayane. I’m excited to talk to you because I come from a psychology background. I studied psychology as an undergrad. Usually, when you study psychology, the next step is to get your Master’s and become a therapist or a psychologist. Although that wasn’t my personal dream, I enjoyed every second of learning about human psychology, relationship, children and all that stuff. I’m fascinated with it. I’m very excited to have you here. I have so many questions for you.
I’m excited to be here. Let’s get started.
The first thing I want to know is what inspired you to be a marriage and family therapist.
My story is a bit cheesy. I’ve been with my husband for many years. We’re high school sweethearts and at the time I took a psychology class and it was happening at the same time. I was very fascinated by psychology. It was interesting, but as I started going through my relationship, I realize how much it takes to be in a relationship, especially when you’re young. There are a lot of stressors and a lot of change happening. You grow together. Sometimes people grow apart. A lot has happened. Even though I’ve been with one person and he’s been my only boyfriend and now he’s my husband, I feel like we’ve learned so much about each other. It feels like ten different versions of us. We’ve learned a lot about each other and also learned how much it takes to be in a healthy, good relationship.
As I started going through the psychology path, I realized that this is something I want to do and I help other couples. I was doing what we all do as girls, helping friends. That’s pretty common for us to do, but there was something inside me that I was like, “I want more out of this.” At eighteen, I volunteered to be an admin assistant to a therapist. That’s who my supervisor is, Anita Avedian. I’ve been working alongside her since I was eighteen and I learned so much from her. I was like, “I want to this.” I want to become a therapist and help others with relationship issues. That’s what I do. I specialize in helping couples, but as well as women in their twenties and 30s who are figuring out how to be in a relationship, life choices and things that come in the way that they want to work on.
I’m a huge believer in therapy. I’ve gone to a few sessions myself. I went before I got married because I was nervous. The thought of marriage scared me and it was a dark place in my life. What do you do if you feel like you can’t talk to anybody? You go seek a therapist and I did. The one thing I want to touch on is how important it is to connect with your therapist and like them. I remember going in and immediately I had judgments about her. For some reason she looked very unhealthy as if she had an eating disorder. I don’t want to feel that way. As a layperson, I’m not even thinking from a psychological standpoint, I’m thinking how can somebody who’s maybe currently battling eating disorder help me? I ignored it and I went to her. I didn’t mesh with her. I didn’t like her. I was always fighting her questions. Eventually, I stopped because it wasn’t beneficial to me. Every time I suggest therapy to somebody, I tell them, “Make sure you like your therapist, you connect with them and you feel comfortable,” because I didn’t feel that with her. If I feel like I need to go to therapy, I’ll definitely go again, but I’ll be conscious of going to somebody. I’ll do my research and maybe try a few people out. Is that weird? Do people do that?
That’s a great point that you bring up because the success of therapy, for the most part, depends on the connection between the client and the therapist. Some people think of age. For example, I’m pretty young, so a lot of people might question that. My expertise and experiences, there are all these things, but it’s the connection between the client and the therapist.
I think that’s so much more important because it doesn’t matter how young you are, but it’s the connection. This person’s a professional at the end of the day. They are licensed to do what they do and give the advice that they give based off of research. I can understand how I made that initial judgment. For example, for you, people think that you’re too young. That’s important to have a connection with your therapist. My next question is what is the number one problem that always comes up in a therapy session with couples?
There are so many things that come up, but at the root of it all is miscommunication.The root of all relationship problems is miscommunication. Click To Tweet
I couldn’t agree more.
When two people who were raised differently have different filters on how they view the world, they come together and then they’re not able to talk the same language with each other, a lot goes wrong no matter how long you’ve known each other. A lot of people think it’s just because they’ve been together for a long time or maybe it’s in your relationship. They call it the honeymoon phase. It’s an actual thing. In your brain, there are chemicals being released during that first six months to a year. That’s why you’re very excited and you look at things differently. Once those chemicals go away, you’re like, “Now I see the true colors.” That’s when miscommunication starts happening. People start communicating with each other in a real raw way. Instead of turning to each other and being very vulnerable, they begin to turn against each other and they start miscommunication.
It makes sense. Sometimes you don’t feel comfortable enough. It’s only been a year and that might seem like a lifetime. I totally agree. The honeymoon stage is what messes people up. When that goes away, you’re like, “I want to be obsessed with you like I was when I first met you.” I had that same issue with my husband. I was like, “Why aren’t you obsessed with me anymore?” He was like, “What do you mean? I am.” I’m like, “No, I want it to be like when we were eighteen.” He’s like, “Yes, but that’s not realistic. This is life.” That was the hardest change for me personally to adjust to. I was listening to a YouTube segment or a podcast and it talked about these unrealistic romantic expectations women have and how it always screws themselves over in a relationship. That was me. I totally had these unrealistic expectations that we’re going to be obsessed with each other until the end of time. Yes, you’ll love each other like adults, but it completely changes.
Every step of a relationship changes.
We were together five, six years before we got married, then we got married and I was like, “This is so different. I thought I knew you. I thought five years was a long time.” I’m like, “You’re like another person. When I live with you, now I know you.” That’s a huge change in a relationship to go through and I think miscommunication is something all relationships have and go through including mine.
Including mine too. A lot of people think just because I’m a therapist, I have a perfect relationship. Both of us have changed 10,000 ways. It’s taken a lot to grow together and be with each other. It takes a lot of effort. It’s never easy. No relationship is easy. No matter how much knowledge you have about relationships in general, it doesn’t matter. When it’s your own relationship and your own emotions come up, you’re like, “What knowledge?
All that flies out the door.
I think the most important thing is what you said. A lot of couples instead of saying, “I feel that we’ve disconnected. We haven’t been obsessing over each other and there hasn’t been that passion.” Instead of saying that, they end up turning away. They end up either ignoring their partner or they start nagging or they start criticizing their partners.
What do you think is the right way to get that message across, that I want more out of you or out of this relationship? I feel that what we’re ideally asking for is more attention, more everything.
We’re just needy.
I feel like we’re needy emotionally. I want you to tell me you love me every second of every day. Am I asking for too much?
We want to connect and we want to feel our partner is there for us. I think at the core of all issues with your partner is that need and desire to connect. Instead of saying, “I want to spend more time with you,” we end up saying “You never take me out. You never do anything for me.”
I’ve been there, done that.
If someone was to ask me what’s the one thing that helps relationships be in a good place and be in a healthy place, it would be to change how you talk to each other. It’s the language.
I’ve learned that along the way because thankfully my husband has stopped me and said, “You’re asking it completely the wrong way. Because you’re asking it that way, I’m not receptive to what you’re saying.” When a man says that to you, you listen. I started to reword it in a positive way because I can only imagine if he came and said, “You don’t do this, you don’t do that.” I’m going to fight back. That’s your initial reaction.
You get defensive.The core of all issues with your partner is that need and desire to connect. Click To Tweet
That’s human nature, but instead if he comes and says, “Why don’t we go out on a date?” I’m like, ”You’re so cute. Let’s go.” You’re right. The way you word certain issues that you’re having is extremely important. One way to word it is how would you want him to tell you that? Would you want him to nag at you or would you want him to say, “I feel like we’ve been disconnected. Let’s go out on a date or take a day off this weekend and let’s do something.”
Because of society or how we were raised and the messages we were given, it’s hard for some people to get to that vulnerable place to say, “We haven’t spent the week together. I miss you. Can we do something?” Instead of that, we turn against each other and we put up this wall and we’re like, “He or she hasn’t even asked me to spend time together clearly.” We come up with this narrative. We assume.
I hate that and we do this all the time. Is it the expectations that we grew up with that media has planted in our heads, the full Cinderella story we’re all searching for? What do you think it is and how do we stop ourselves from doing that? Because I know I have expectations and then I have to stop myself and be like, “That’s not reality. You can’t spend every waking second of every day together.” What do you think we do to screw ourselves over in a way?
It does come from what we saw at home. Maybe one parent needed the attention, the other parent was rejecting. It could be social media. We see all these perfect pictures and perfect couples and nobody knows what happens behind closed doors. A lot of that is expectations set, but the other part of it is it feels like we look for the right or wrong in relationships. We’re constantly like, “No, you made a mistake and I’m right and this is the way it is.” Instead of saying, “I’m curious to know what happened there. I noticed you walked in and you were upset.” Instead of that, we immediately put that defense wall up and we’re like, “How could you even look at me like that? You’re giving me attitude for no reason. You’re wrong.” It becomes a competition with the person who’s supposed to be the closest person to you. The second you start shifting it from that perspective of it being a competition or putting the blame even on your partner and switching that to, “How did I contribute to this situation?” Because it takes two people. A conflict is created by two people.
Nobody’s perfect. Even the wife has things to work on. I don’t know if you saw, I don’t know which late-night show where Michelle Obama was on. She was talking about therapy that she and Barack Obama went to. She said, “I thought I was taking him to therapy. Little did I know I was the one who needed to work on myself as well.” That’s a big eye-opener because it’s true. We are not perfect and we think all these things that our partner does is being done to us. What would you suggest to a couple going through infidelity issues? I feel like besides miscommunication, infidelity might be another issue that comes up a lot, unfortunately.
Infidelity might happen from the miscommunication.
I never thought of it that way, but you’re right.
If I could think about it, the actual core of it is miscommunication and so many different things happen from that. Infidelities are not always because of that, but it could be. I feel I always sound like a broken record. I’m like, “The answer is going to therapy.” Therapy is one way. Another way is if both partners want to work on their relationship and they want to continue their relationship, it takes a lot of effort and work. You have to get super real and raw with each other and super vulnerable and figure out where something went wrong. Infidelity is when there’s a disconnect between two partners and instead of turning towards each other, they looked the other way.
Do you think it’s a sexual disconnect or a disconnect emotionally?
Infidelity is probably defined differently by different people. Cheating means different. For some, if it’s emotional, it’s the end of the world. For some, any type of cheating is the end of the world. It depends on the person and I think the root of it is if it is a betrayal, if it’s something secretive.
I think it’s how you perceive it.
One way to work through it is to talk about it and have a conversation and figure out what happened. One great resource is Esther Perel.
After we spoke on the phone, she did a TED Talk with Jada. She blew my mind.
Her books are the first thing I recommend to any client going through infidelity.
After listening to that, I started to watch her TED Talks and all her interviews and I was like, “Tell me more.” She’s so interesting.
She has a great point. The society and what we’re used to hearing, the second any sign of cheating happens, it’s like, “Leave him, leave her, get out, run.” It’s a little more complicated than that. When two people want to work on their relationship, things are a little bit different as well.Any type of cheating is the end of the world. Click To Tweet
Do you think couples therapy is a necessity for everyone or do you think it’s just for certain couples with certain issues?
It depends on the individuals. Sometimes I might see a couple and I will recommend for them to seek individual therapy because they have traumas and issues that are coming up from their childhood and past relationships that they haven’t worked through. If two people have a lot of insights and they’re very good at communicating, they might benefit. You can always benefit from any type of therapy, but it might not be necessary. Anyone who’s having any type of miscommunications or they’re not getting their point across and they need someone who’s not in the relationship, doesn’t have that bias and has knowledge about how to make things work, they definitely have to try couples therapy in that case.
That’s an important thing. You’re a person who’s not invested in this relationship like a friend or a parent. That’s where therapy can become beneficial because you can call them out like, “No, you’re not right.” Girlfriends are always like, “You’re right. He’s wrong. Tell him how it is.” Your mom might be like, “I can’t believe he did that.” As a therapist, you’re looking at it from not only a professional scientific point of view, you’re looking at it as a layperson who has no idea and is learning about this couple. Instinctively, whatever comes up you’re like, “I noticed you’re doing this.” I think you’re right, it’s important that if there are issues that have nothing to do with the relationship, people should seek therapy for themselves alone.
It comes up a lot. Sometimes I’ll even say something like, “I want you to get individual therapy before we can continue this.” Because sometimes it can be so heavy and not processed. It’s still sitting there and your partner can heal you from a lot, but not everything. You have to do your own work before going into a relationship.
What does a typical therapy session look like? How does one start the process of therapy?
It’s important to find the right therapist for you. If you have friends who go to therapy, ask around if they know a therapist. Another way is through social media. There are a lot of therapists on Instagram, Facebook and you get an idea of what they’re like. PsychologyToday.com is a great resource. It’s a directory for therapists. You can find out what their specialties are, what their experiences and what school they went to, all of this information. The last step is to call and do a consultation with a therapist. Most therapists offer free consultations so you can get a feel. It’s hard on the phone, but you can get an idea. If after the first session you feel like it’s not the right fit for you, don’t push it.
Find a different therapist because that’s going to be something that’s so important in the process of you receiving the help that you need and being open to it. What does a therapy session look like? Every therapist has a different approach. The way I like to start my therapy sessions is going all the way back to childhood. I want to get to know who you are. I want to connect with you. I want to learn about you. Sometimes people come in with presenting issues like, “I’m in a very toxic relationship and I want to work on that.” They might want to talk about that and focus all the therapy sessions on that specific issue, but I want to know who you are. I want to go all the way back and I want to know who your parents are, how you’re raised, what messages you were given as a kid.
Believe it or not, when that therapist asked me that, I was annoyed with her because I felt like I had a great childhood. I need to talk to about this specifically. That turned me off about her because she wasn’t getting to the point, but in hindsight that’s extremely important. How were you raised? What was your parents’ relationship like? Was there abuse involved? It’s so important, but at that time I was like, “I don’t want to talk about my childhood. I’m fine. I had a great childhood.”
It could be that you already had this judgment beforehand.
I was blocked off. My experience was not the ideal one and it was my fault. I’m on a whim found somebody. I also want to mention, you can call your insurance companies and they can list people that accept your insurance. That way you’re not paying maybe full price and you have options where you can pay a co-pay of $45 or whatever your insurance policy is. You made an excellent point. It’s important to go back because then you might remember something and be like, “I didn’t think this might affect me in the long-term.” The therapist gives you all this scientific knowledge and you’re like, “Is this why this has been happening?” If you’re like me where you’ve ever gone to a therapy session and you feel weird or you don’t want to talk about it, just let go of that fear or any fear you have because this person is a professional and everything is confidential, but it’s scary.
I’ve gotten that before, they’re like, “We get it. I either had a good childhood or didn’t. What does that have to do with anything?” The truth is our life is all about patterns. The way we do things, the relationships we get and the people we associate with, it’s all patterns.
It’s what you’re conditioned to respond to. In your own conscience, that’s something some people don’t think about. That’s just how it is and your childhood has a lot to do with it. How did your parents react when you got in trouble? Did they hate you? Did they get mad? Be open and finding the right therapist is important. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Tell people where we can follow you, how we can book you if you want to if we’re in LA.
Thank you so much.
- Gayane Aramyan
- @TherapyWithGayane on Instagram
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- YouTube– Gayane Answers Your Relationship Questions
About Gayane Aramyan
I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University. I continued my education and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage & Family Therapy from Pepperdine University.
I am passionate about helping individuals, couples and families achieve a well balanced life. Together, we can work through the roadblocks that are in your way.
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