Can Relationship Therapy Help A Couple Stay Together?
Updated June 03, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Nicole Gaines, LPC
When your relationship seems to be crumbling, the situation can seem nearly hopeless. Even if your relationship isn't on the verge of divorce, you might feel like the two of you are heading in that direction. Relationship therapy might make you feel better about each other. Will it help you stay together? For many people, the answer is 'yes.'
What Is Relationship Therapy?
So, what is relationship therapy, anyway? Is it like couples' therapy? Couples' therapy is one type of relationship therapy. Other types are marriage therapy, family therapy, and therapy between people who work together. It can be a romantic partnership, a family relationship, or a relationship between friends.
Relationship therapy is counseling that helps two (or more) people explore the nature of their relationship, identify goals for change, learn relationship skills, and decide whether to continue the relationship or not.
What Do the Stats Say About Relationship Therapy?
A look at recent statistics about the success of relationship therapy can give you an idea of what is possible. Although there are no guarantees that relationship therapy will keep your partnership from falling apart, 75% of couples who had it felt they were better off for having had the therapy. Further,65% of the couples said the improvement was significant. As many as 50% of the couples retained those improvements for at least two years.
What do these statistics tell us? Relationship therapy is effective in many cases, but not in all cases. The difference may be in the amount of effort the partners put into it. It could also be that the couple had already grown so far apart that they aren't interested in going back to who they were when the relationship was sound. Whatever the reason, you can increase your chances of success.
What It Takes to Succeed in Relationship Therapy
If you need to do something to make therapy work, what do you need to do? Many people have the misperception that you only need to show up, that being there is enough to make all the difference. However, you can take charge of things to improve your chances of benefitting from the process.
Commitment to The Relationship
If you want to continue your relationship with your partner, you need to be committed to that relationship. That means you'll do your part to make the relationship work. You might not know what to do. That's okay; your therapist will help you with that. The key is to focus on improving the relationship in any reasonable way and stick with the relationship even in difficult times.
Commitment to The Therapeutic Process
Sometimes, relationship therapy fails simply because one or both partners in the relationship see therapy as something done to them rather than something they need to engage in actively. This attitude can develop during the first sessions of therapy. However, if both parties don't eventually come to see therapy this way, it's unlikely that they'll be able to make much progress toward staying together.
By committing to the therapeutic process, you can get the most out of your sessions. You can face your problems together. Or, one of the partners can deal with their relationship issues if the other won't participate. If that happens, staying together may become a less attractive option to the active partner.
Being Open to New Ideas And Perspectives
Chances are, you don't have all the answers to your relationship problems. If you did, your relationship wouldn't be in a state that inspired you to seek relationship therapy. No one expects you to know everything, either. What you do need to do is to open your mind to new ideas your therapist might suggest. Be ready to see things from your partner's perspective. When you allow yourself to consider new ideas, you open up a new world of relationship help.
Willingness to Listen And Try To Understand
The very best way to find out about your partner's perspective is to listen to what they have to say. That doesn't mean listening while thinking about how to dispute or add your take on what they're saying. Instead, you need to listen with the intent to understand them.
You don't need to talk much at all when you're listening. All you have to do is say enough to let them know you understand, need further clarification, or appreciate their perspective. Your therapist can teach you listening skills and guide you as you practice them. All you need to do is to be willing to listen.
Willingness to Explore Options
Sometimes when you're in therapy, you think of a solution to a problem and decide that that is the one you need to sell to the counselor and your partner. Therapy isn't about selling a point of view, though. A part of what it's about is exploring problems and possible solutions. Certainly, you can offer a solution. However, you also need to be willing to explore that and other options fairly and thoroughly.
Willingness to Make Changes
Sometimes, people go into relationship therapy feeling that their partner is making certain mistakes. They expect their partner to make changes. If this is what you think, you may or may not be correct in feeling that your partner needs to change more than you do.
In nearly every relationship, both partners can contribute to the relationship's health by changing their behavior. Rather than concentrating only on how your partner needs to change, it helps to also think about what changes you can make.
A Positive Attitude
Have you ever worked with someone who has a severely negative attitude? Sometimes, people turn down every possible solution. It's easy to get extremely tired of hearing 'That won't work.' And, as long as they have that attitude, nothing will work because nothing will have a chance to work.
Go into therapy thinking, 'There's a good chance that this will work if we do our best.' Then, give it your best shot. If it doesn't keep the two of you together as a couple, at least you will have learned valuable relationship skills that will serve you well throughout your life.
How Can You Improve the Relationship Through Therapy?
If relationship therapy might help you, how does that happen? What can change in the relationship that would help it last through good times and bad? When you learn the following relationship skills, you can improve your relationship dramatically for the long term. If the relationship breaks up, you can transfer these skills to other relationships.
Learn Communication Skills
Learning how to communicate within the relationship can allow the two of you to face all your relationship issues as a team. You might learn how to phrase concerns positively, so they don't seem like personal attacks. You might learn how to use 'I' statements to own your feelings about what's bothering you.
Listening carefully and empathetically is a good way to help your partner feel you care about them. It also helps you understand the situation more accurately. Most people don't use good listening skills until they learn them. Some parents model good listening skills, but parents like that aren't in the majority. Therapy gives you a chance to learn how to listen and practice your listening skills at each session.
Learn How to Resolve Conflicts
At the heart of nearly every troubled marriage is an inability to resolve the conflict. Almost everyone could benefit from learning and practicing conflict resolution skills. Each person needs to present their position, and each person needs to listen attentively while the other is speaking. They also need to find ways to compromise without abandoning their position completely. A therapist can teach conflict resolution skills and help you refine those skills as you practice them.
Find Out More About Each Other
When you go to relationship therapy, you can find out a lot about each other you never knew before. As your therapist gets to know each of you, they'll ask questions. You may be very surprised at your partner's answers. This is beneficial to the relationship because the more you know about each other, the easier it is to understand each other.
Deal with Difficult Emotions
If you spend enough time with someone, you're bound to develop some emotions surrounding the relationship. Then, if you're struggling to stay together, those feelings can turn sour. Dealing with those emotions in therapy sessions allows each of you to gain outside support without giving up your privacy. You can express your emotions, no matter how intense they are, and your therapist will be there to help you and your partner make sense of them.
Find New Respect For Each Other
Couples' therapy usually gives you many opportunities to show your strengths. Even though you may feel that it's weak to talk about your problems, you can show your partner your good qualities if you face up to them. By approaching therapy positively and thoughtfully, you and your partner can come to respect each other more for the work you do in therapy.
Find Commonalities and Appreciate Differences
As you learn more about each other, you can learn more about the experiences, opinions, and attitudes you share. You may also find out that you don't agree as much as you thought you did. If you were exploring these similarities and differences on your own, you might not appreciate how wonderful it is to have an interesting blend of likenesses and differences. Your therapist can help you discover those hidden treasures.
Create A Stronger Connection with Your Spouse
Your therapist might use many different techniques to help you connect on a fundamental level. If you're in a love relationship, they might suggest that you look deeply into each other's eyes for several minutes. They might also give you a homework assignment of spending a half-hour just cuddling. Your therapist might suggest different connection techniques if the relationship is a family, friend, or work relationship.
Become More Grateful and Positive
Gratitude exercises are popular these days. Eventually, that trend will probably pass. Gratitude is something that can make a relationship better, whether it's in style or not. As you become more grateful and develop your positive attitude, you'll not only improve the relationship, but you can also become happier and more successful.
How to Get Started
Getting started with relationship therapy is easy. All you have to do is make an appointment with a qualified therapist and show up for your sessions. Regain.Us makes that easy with its online therapy platform. You can talk to a licensed therapist to start addressing your relationship issues right away.
If you approach relationship therapy positively and actively, you may very well be able to save your relationship. You may grow as individuals and grow closer as partners. When you choose relationship therapy over unending struggles, you have a fighting chance to stay together.
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