What To Know Before Entering Couple Therapy
Updated March 17, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn
Couple therapy is a bit different from individual therapy. While individual therapy generally focuses solely on you, your needs, and how you can improve, couples therapy is about you and your partner. This form of mental health treatment helps you and your partner learn about yourselves, each other, and how you can strengthen your relationship. Even the best of couples can benefit from couples therapy; this manner of therapy is not only available to couples who are in crisis.
It involves you and your spouse doing the thing that you may be having trouble with-communicating. Even just selecting a counselor together requires a bit of teamwork. So here are some tips to help you on your way to entering couple therapy.
What To Know About Couples Therapy
Whenever you're going into something new, it's always important to be as aware as possible. Facts and information makes a difference and can help you avoid feeling overly anxious, nervous, or otherwise uncertain. This is true regardless of which type of therapy you choose to take. For this reason, keeping the following advice in mind will help you to enter couple therapy with your best chance at repairing or improving your marriage.
It's Not Up To The Counselor To Save Your Marriage
You do not hire a marriage counselor to fix your marriage. That's not exactly their job. Their job is to guide you to fix your marriage. So, you have to put in the effort to follow their suggestions and improve your marriage.
Of course, you're going to ask, "What about my partner? Shouldn't they also be putting in the effort?" Of course, they should. But you don't have control over what your partner does. The only person whose actions you can control is your own. And someone has to take the first steps.
Unfortunately, believing that the counselor is responsible for saving the marriage is a common misconception amongst those who attend couple therapy. As previously stated, your counselor's job is to serve as a guide. This means they can observe your situation, provide feedback, and offer suggestions and possible solutions. However, at the end of the day, you and your partner have to be willing to fix your marriage and remain receptive to feedback. This is often easier said than done. Sometimes in couple therapy, one or both participants can get feedback which they don't necessarily like or agree with. It is times like these were listening to the counselor and swallowing feelings of annoyance or resentment matters.
Most Of The Work Is Done Outside Of Sessions
Don't expect to leave a couple of therapy session feeling like your relationship has miraculously improved. Marriage counseling provides you with guidance. You then have to leave the session and put that guidance into practice. It's all the work you and your partner do outside of the sessions that determine how well your marriage will do in the future.
It's easy to do the work when you and your partner are sitting in the room with your therapist. Doing the work when you're at home, feeling frustrated with one another, and just finished having a bad day is something else entirely. In so many cases, this is easier said than done. However, this is when doing the work is most important. Remember, you and your partner are the ones responsible for fixing and maintaining your relationship, not your therapist. This means you have to do the work even when it's not the easiest or most comfortable thing in the world. Push yourselves now and reap the benefits later.
It Only Works If You Both Want It To
You or your partner may be resistant to couple therapy. That's natural. But what is required for therapy to work, at a minimum, is that both of you want the marriage to work. The reason why you want it to work, however, does not have to be the same.
People can have many reasons for wanting to be married at any given time. You may want to preserve your marriage for reasons regarding family or children, for the shared financial life you've built together because you still love this person, or for any combination of these or other reasons. You or your partner's reason for wanting to keep the marriage intact upon entering counseling may be different from the reason for getting married in the first place. And that's okay.
Another critical detail to remember about couple therapy is that both you and your partner have to not only want to save your relationship, but you also have to want it just as badly as the other. If you are fully committed while your partner is only partially committed (or vise versa), then things probably aren't going to work out. Some relationships can be saved and preserved, while others can't. The success or failure of your relationship will depend on whether or not both you and your significant other are equally and wholly committed to one another and bettering your union.
As long as some form of motivation is there for improving this relationship, then there is a chance that your reasons for wanting to be together, and your feelings for each other, can align in the future.
Don't Wait Too Long
Many couples wait far too long to try counseling, and the initial problems or complaints have become numerous. The gap between the partners has become too wide and it is more difficult than it has to be.
Many couples don't realize it, but waiting too long to deal with certain matters can sign a death warrant for the relationship. When matters are not properly addressed, they tend to fester and become worse than they were in the beginning. Negative feelings went unaddressed and lay dormant, only to explode at a later date. By this time, it's likely that damage has already been done. You and your partner may be shocked that you need to take this step, but in the long run, you both will be thankful that you acted proactively instead of waiting and allowing matters to worsen.
Couple therapy is much more effective when you seek help as soon as you recognize a problem the two of you can't solve. Now that you understand more about how relationship counseling works reach out to a marriage counseling professional who can help you and your partner.
It's Not A Guaranteed Fix
One of the most important things to remember about couple therapy is that it's not a guaranteed fix. The truth of the matter is that not every couple, which goes to therapy together can salvage their relationship. As a matter of fact, there are cases where couple therapy leads to significant others, realizing that they're better off being apart from one another. In certain cases, the best way to save a relationship is to end it.
A therapist can work with you and your significant other and serve as a guide; however, you and your partner are ultimately in charge of whether your relationship succeeds or fails. As previously stated, therapy only works if the two of you are willing to put in the time and take the hard steps.
Open Communication Matters
When going into couple therapy, you have to willing to openly and honestly communicate with your therapist. Believe it or not, this is something which many couples struggle with. Sometimes shame and embarrassment are factors. Sometimes, one or both parties have issues which they would prefer for others not to know about. This is understandable, but couple therapy simply doesn't work if there are secrets and details which you and your partner are not sharing.
Honesty and communication are critical parts of relationships, but they are also paramount to the success of therapy. How can your therapist help you as a couple if you and your significant other are not open and honest, even when it's not the most comfortable thing in the world? Integrity is everything, and being cognizant of that matters when you're working with a professional. Put aside shame, doubt, guilt, and other negative feelings. To truly get the most out of couple therapy and improve your relationship, you have to be willing to deal with the tough stuff.
When it's all said and done, couple therapy is a mental health service which has helped millions of couples improve their relationships. Couple therapy can also help people recognize patterns, understand areas where they need to improve and learn about what truly contributes to a successful, loving, and healthy partnership. Life can sometimes be challenging, but the ability to lean on one's spouse during tough times is important and makes a significant difference.
Tough times are guarantees of life. Regardless of your income, relationship status, geographic location, occupation, etc., you are bound to encounter tough times at some period in your life. What defines us is not how many times we fall, but how many times we can get back up and keep pushing forward. The ability to stand and not crumble in the face of adversity is what makes us stronger in the end.
Regain understands that this can be a tough journey, and we want to be of service to anyone who needs it. This is why we offer a variety of counseling and therapy services, which can be of value to anyone in need of them. You can contact us at any time simply by clicking here.