When One Of Us Doesn't Want To Take Part In Therapy
It’s quite common for one person to have doubts about therapy and there are many reasons why one person might be reluctant. For example, some people feel threatened by the idea of entering into therapy and having marriage counselling sessions, believing it signifies the end of the relationship by revealing they are incompatible with their partner. Some simply find the idea of relationship counselling daunting, uncomfortable, or humiliating. Some people have already tried therapy sessions and had a negative experience. For instance they may have found it unhelpful, that it made their situation worse, or felt as though the previous couples therapist and their partner ganged up on them. All of these fears are understandable. However, it’s important to consider that unless we attempt to overcome such issues and get the right support, we risk stagnation and remaining in an unhappy, and dysfunctional situation.
When I Think The Problem Is My Partner
It’s quite common for couples to believe that their relationship problems arise because the other person is at fault in some way, and that the mental health professional should aim to fix the partner. However, it’s very likely that we play down our own role in the situation. A good therapist will aim to understand relationship issue(s) from both sides and show both partners the other’s position. They will also emphasise how each position makes sense to each person, with the aim of helping couples to empathise and understand the other’s view. A good exercise that therapists sometimes use in couples therapy is to ask each person what they themselves need to do to become a more effective partner. This is useful because it shifts the idea of being passive and expecting our partner to change, we can realise that there are also things that we can do to help.
When One Of Us Is More Committed Than The Other
It can feel worrying for individuals when they believe they’re more committed to the relationship than their partner is, and it may surprise you to learn that sometimes the less committed person is also bothered by their own lack of commitment because it indicates to them that something is not quite right, making them feel uneasy. However, according to Dr Wile, for the purposes of couples therapy it can actually be quite helpful to have one partner who is more committed. He argues that the enthusiasm of the more motivated person can be used to drive real change and help improve the situation, such that it can encourage the less committed partner and help the relationship overall.
When We're Focused On Different Issues
One of you may be more interested in working on the sexual relationship, while the other is focused on issues around managing the children, or chores. Therapy may help you help your spouse to understand what feels important to you, and vice versa. Dr Wile highlights that we should not wait for our partner’s motivation or level of commitment to catch up to our own, as this delays our own willingness to take the lead in change. It’s also important to realise that an apparent lack of commitment may not signify a lack of commitment to the relationship, but rather to the issue being tackled in therapy. Therapy can be incredibly useful because it allows couples to come to new understandings and compromise about things that at face value may seem quite discouraging.
Next In The Series...
Look out for Part III of this article (How Couples Therapy Can Help) which will discuss clarifies what couples therapy is, how it works, and what it has to offer, to enable informed decision making for those considering couples work.
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