Life stressors affect a couple. Financial stress, job pressures, burnout, children, taking care of older parents all can create tension in a relationship that has not previously had problems. Arguments turn into blame, and blame extends into hurt. You forget how to communicate.
Most of the couples I see come to me because they want to get back on track together. They realize that some things have gotten in the way of staying close and they want to do something about it.
I start by understanding the system. People usually are a couple because they have something good together. They build a system around that, and communication is built into it. When stress comes into the picture, they forget some of the good things. They most often forget how to communicate.
After identifying the nature of the problem that has caused the current stress, I focus on what brought them together in the first place. I then teach them a system to help them communicate again.