It’s a common problem. One or both partners realize there is a problem with a relationship, but one partner thinks it will just go away or should be handled in the home. Perhaps one partner does not believe in therapy. There is the issue of cost and time. Maybe one person is scared of facing relationship problems or concerned that it could make things worse. A partner may think they have done nothing wrong, and a counselor will simply side with their partner. Couples and marriage counseling can be hard at times. The prospect can be even more daunting for those raised not to express their feelings or seek help. Men, in particular, may be resistant unless they can find a male counselor. This could be a red flag of larger problems if you are in the pre-marriage counseling phase. Sometimes compromise means going even if you are not feeling all-in at first. All of the concerns about couples counseling can be justified, but most couples find that the process is much more rewarding and positive than expected.
“I shouldn’t bring an umbrella to a brainstorm.”Ted Lasso from Apple TV
But if your partner won’t go, there can still be benefits in seeking individual therapy related to relationship problems. Business Professionals may say they do not have time. You can work on yourself or on trying to communicate with your partner better. You can learn techniques to try on your partner to improve the relationship. You can discover if common conditions like anxiety and depression are getting in the way of a happy relationship. You can examine your major life roles to determine if any of them are getting in the way of a happy relationship.
And maybe you need to process some things in confidence before you are ready to share them with your spouse. Maybe you aren’t yet comfortable talking about your sex life in front of your partner (something that needs to change over time for the healthiest relationship). For example, perhaps you have been unfaithful or questioned if you want to leave the relationship. While secrets are generally not a good idea, you may need to talk through strategies to communicate what is going on in your life with your partner. You may also not be ready for couples therapy quite yet.
The ideal outcome is that you and your partner both decide that, at the very least, couples counseling is the last thing you want to do but the first thing you need to do. You may learn couples’ communication strategies that help you convince your partner that you need therapy together. This process may take some time. The average couple waits six years after realizing they have significant problems before seeking help. If you are interested in learning more, read more about individual relationship therapy (an oxymoron, I know).
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