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If You Want to Save Your Relationship, Be Willing to Be Vulnerable

If You Want to Save Your Relationship, Be Willing to Be Vulnerable

Does your relationship feel like “groundhogs day?” If so, you are probably experiencing never-ending, repetitive conversations that create a vicious, repetitve and toxic cycle with no solutions in sight.

Conversations to create clarity usually lead to more frustration with little hope in sight. When you are in this place, it’s important to consider how you want to proceed. Is couples therapy an option? Will it be worth the effort? Or, should you just let the sparks die and move on? I’ve always believed that every serious relationship experiences one monumental, penultimate moment in which the couple has a choice: do you choose to work through it and stay together, or have you accomplished all you can as a couple and it’s time to go separate ways.

Lets explore the possibilities to give you some insight into the different roads you can travel down and what they look like.

Couples therapy is for the ones who are willing to give their relationship a fighting chance.

Arriving at the realization that it’s time to get help for your relationship is not an easy one. While couple’s counselling is becoming less and less taboo, the idea of seeing a therapist can seem dramatic. You may not think your relationship warrants professional help. Maybe you assure yourself that it’s “not that bad.” But remember there are expert relationship counselors for a reason. It’s important to know that choosing therapy is not a way to get someone on your side and convince your partner you’re right and they should listen to you. Rather the point of couple’s counselling is to better understand yourself and how you behave in a relationship, while also learning more about your partner. Through therapy, the two of you would address the interactions and patterns that have led to the problems you face and hopefully look for solutions to remedy them.

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Accepting you need help can be challenging when you are very close to the problem. In fact, when you’re in the midst of the issue, it can be difficult to realize there is an alternative, let alone identify what got you to this point in the first place.

Of course, admitting that you don’t have all the answers requires humility. Admitting that you don’t know how to move things in a better direction will inevitably open the door to change. Often, most couples get in the way of their own change – usually unintentionally. So, if you (and your loved one) are willing to be vulnerable, you will give your relationship a fighting chance.

You have to be willing.

Couples therapy only works when a couple is willing to be “raw and real.” Your job is not to make the therapist think you’re a great girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. but rather to be as honest as possible in a safe space while a neutral party guides the conversation. Therapeutic change requires an interest to make your internal conversation external. Yes, your secret thoughts and inner conversation must be revealed.

Therapeutic change happens when a couple is willing to leave the comfort zone. What this means is embracing an openness to act in ways in your relationship that are different that you know yourself to be. Many patterns can be very hard-wired over time. Long-term change only happens when the “lens” that you both use to see one another begins to shift.

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In couples therapy, weekly interventions and experiential activities can begin the process of creating shifts. At first, the change may feel awkward and uncomfortable because you are introducing behavior that is new. It’s like beginning to go to the gym for the first time. Feeling sore and having some aches and pains is normal. It means you are pushing yourself. You are growing. All change requires discomfort. If you are open to experiencing new ways of being in your relationship the possibilities for change in couples therapy are endless. It all depends on you (and your loved one).

Couples therapy is worth it when couples are willing to make changes.

Your therapist doesn’t exist to “fix” your love. Your therapist cannot promise that he/she will be able to solve your problems. But the therapist can provide the opportunity to delve into issues without the fear of starting a nasty fight. While it would be nice if there was a magic fix to broken relationships, it just isn’t so. Couples therapy requires much footwork, patience and determination.

Now, this is not to ignore the reality that a couples expert should be highly skilled in knowing how to create therapeutic change. Both during a couples therapy session and outside the session there are countless ways to help couples create change and positive shifts in their relationship. The part that the therapist can’t control is the couple’s willingness to invite change into their lives.

Just like the gym example earlier, you can hire a personal trainer to help you create the kind of body you like but you have to be willing to put in the work. Many times, people ask for change and are simply not willing to place the effort and energy forth required to create shifts. You and your loved one have to want the change badly and be willing to do whatever is necessary to introduce change into your relationship. Its a process you engage in together and its critical that you work as “one” in order to create deep, lasting change.

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Couples counselling can heal relationships through improved communication, revitalizing emotional connection and renegotiating commitments to each other. No relationship is ever going to be perfect, but counselling creates the opportunity to find balance.[1]

Even if you really think it’s time to end the relationship, a counselor can help.

If you (or your loved one) are not sure if you care enough about the relationship to seek help, seeing a counselor can still help you have a clean, healthy breakup. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to see a counselor to help you end a relationship, the truth is that healthy breakups are much more valuable than dramatic, toxic ones. A counselor can help you evaluate what didn’t work in the relationship, ultimately helping you find a relationship that will work in the future. And if you aren’t sure if you want to break up or fight for your love, a counselor can still be helpful in helping you to identify what you need.

Make sure the therapist you choose intends to help you.

While there are plenty of therapists out there who would be more than willing to take your money and listen to you talk about your relationship problems, you need to make sure your therapist has receives specific training and is experienced in marital therapy. Make sure they have the intention of helping you and your partner find solutions in an unbiased way, rather than immediately jumping to assisting you in ending things. You also need to feel supported, respected and comfortable with your therapist. Sure, it may be awkward at first, but once that passes, you need to feel like you’re with someone who cares.

Make sure to set goals with your partner ahead of time. What is it you are trying to accomplish? Don’t just go in and start venting. Make sure the therapist knows what you are trying to work through. This will make everyone’s life easier. The best way to find the right therapist is often word of mouth. If any of your friends are in counseling with their partner, ask them who they use and how they like them. Don’t worry, everything is confidential, so no one will be spreading rumors.[2]

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As for cost, on average counselors charge between $75 and $150 an hour. It is recommended to attend therapy for three months with one session per week. If you feel like you can’t afford it, but you truly want a specific counselor, call and ask if they offer any type of discounts. The worst they can say is no.[3]

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] Marriage & Relationship Counselling Sydney: How Can Couples Counselling Benefit Our Relationship?
[2] Psychology Today: How to Choose a Good Marital Therapist
[3] HusbandHelpHaven: What is the Average Cost of Marriage Counseling?

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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