It happens all the time (perhaps as often as 50%). A couple signs up for counseling and then gets cold feet as the first appointment approaches. Here are five common reasons for this phenomenon.
- Perhaps one partner only reluctantly agreed to sign up in the first place.
It is pretty common that one partner wants to be in counseling or sees value in giving it a try more than the other. While relationship issues are usually best handled with the couple together, there can still be value in one partner getting help with relationship issues. The critical thing to remember is if these sessions intend to bash your partner, you are more likely to break up or divorce due to this counseling. On the other hand, if the intent is to work on yourself in ways that will lead to a better relationship, this format can be beneficial.
- The Couple didn’t communicate about the appointment
Maybe one partner scheduled the appointment without talking with the other (communication problems almost always exist with couples in counseling). Regardless of with whom you schedule, please speak to your partner first. Electronic intake forms go to both people when a new appointment is scheduled with Cardinal Point Counseling. Few things can be more upsetting to the other partner than learning via email that their partner scheduled them for an appointment.
- Someone is afraid counseling will make things worse
Couples often talk about a significant hesitation in signing up for counseling is because it could make things worse. Some topics may indeed come up that may not be comfortable to discuss. Cardinal Point Counseling tries to make these topics as comfortable as possible without avoiding the issues. Others fear that a counselor will tell them they should break up or get divorced. This topic is only broached if you choose, and the decision is ultimately up to you. Most people who have apprehension report that they were glad they gave counseling a try, and it was much more pleasant than they feared.
- Things seem to improve between signing up and the appointment time
Things may seem to improve, and they may have improved. Perhaps the appointment was scheduled after a rare big fight, and things have calmed down. Of course, I am biased, but I believe anyone who considers couples or marriage counseling could benefit from it, even if it is brief. Was that fight a one-off that has been resolved, or is there more to it? Whether you choose Cardinal Point Counseling or someone else, most people who consider couples counseling can probably benefit from it. The healthier you are when you start, the fewer sessions you’ll need, and the more likely you will have positive outcomes.
- There is a stigma or assumption that if you go to counseling, you have a bad relationship
This comes up a lot. Couples say they were reluctant because they didn’t want to admit that they “needed counseling.” Most couples wait six years following serious problems before seeking help, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Who says you have to “need counseling” to benefit from it? You may not “need” an annual physical, but it’s an excellent preventative measure. Couples counseling can be preventive and doesn’t mean you have to be in a terrible relationship to give it a try.
If you do get cold feet, please make sure to cancel instead of just not showing up. It takes work to set up your appointment and holds a spot that others can’t fill. It also takes time to prepare and wait for you when it’s uncertain whether you will show.
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