COUPLES THERAPY. The very words can strike fear in the heart of a struggling couple. Too often it is a last resort. Nothing has worked to make your relationship better, so you start couples counseling with little hope and the thought that if things don’t work out at least you’ll be able to say you tried everything. Even therapy. And then with no big changes occurring, you bail after a few sessions. This is the formula for unsuccessful marital therapy. What to do?
Get the Most out of Couples Therapy
- Be fully committed to creating a lasting, happy marriage. Take the D word off the table for the duration.
- Be proactive. Seek help before your bond gets to the breaking point.
- Give it time. Patterns of communication – or non-communication – that have been in place for years need time and effort to change.
- Give each other time. A flourishing relationship requires time to be together, time to be a family, time to play, problem solve, nurture, plan.
- Risk sharing your deepest feelings, exposing your vulnerabilities.
- Create emotional safety for your partner by listening without defending or judging.
- Realize that you are part of the problem. Negative cycles that keep you stuck always involve you both.
- Focus on changing yourself rather than your partner. Accept that you will need to change how you think or feel about some problems and how you react to them.
- Commit to listening and being curious rather than defending or attacking. Speaking up rather than resentfully complying or withdrawing.
- Remember love is destroyed when self-interest dominates. The golden rule – treat others the way you want them to treat you – is the best rule for marriage as it is for life.
I am a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with 20 years experience in the field and many more years of life experience. I entered the counseling profession in mid-life after putting in time as a stay-at-home mom, a freelance writer, a journalist, and a United States-based missionary. I love walking alongside those who are seeking to find themselves, heal a relationship, or recover from trauma. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, and hanging out with my grandsons.