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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io
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