Couples counselling is becoming more common and accepted, but for people who are very private or think relationships should be effortless, it is not an easy process. To discuss couples counselling with you partner, take it step-by-step and begin by clarifying some of the following concepts for yourself.
Creating A Loving Relationship is a Process
A loving relationship involves two people who make a commitment to the process of helping the relationship grow and succeed. A healthy relationship takes a lot of effort and regular, healthy communication. Relationships have difficult times and occasionally require tune-ups.
Unfortunately, most couples have never had the advantage of any formal training on how to work out problems or communicate openly. Resentments can build easily, so be careful not to let hurtful problems stew. The longer you wait to get help, the harder it will be to heal the relationship.
During difficult periods it can be very helpful to have third party assistance to re-establish the communication process. Couples counsellors are specialists who know how to be effective in creating a successful relationship. The therapist has learned techniques that can help you to make your relationship a loving one. Therapy is an investment in the success of your relationship.
Positive Reasons For Couples Counselling
Although at the moment you may be feeling angry and hurt, or you can only think of how you want your partner to change (or how you want to punish your mate), for the purposes of trying to get help it is best to think of your reasons for wanting counselling in terms of how you would like the relationship to be in the future. For example, “I would like to be more effective at working out our problems without hurting each other” and “I would like to be able to talk more intimately with you.”
Write down your reasons for wanting to enter into counselling and then alter any “I want you to change” statements into “I want the relationship to be (positive change).” Leave out the “You do x wrong!” comments – they will not help at this time.
If trying to sound positive feels too difficult, then talk with a friend or a therapist for support and advice. These suggestions will go a long way toward opening your partner to the idea that the relationship can improve.
What Not to Say About Couples Counselling
Don’t blame your partner, don’t yell at your partner, and don’t present a list of topics or complaints that could be overwhelming. Do not say anything if you feel that it would put you in danger of being physically hurt. You may choose instead to discuss your options privately with a counsellor first.
Choose Your Timing
Approach your partner by saying that you would like to set aside some time to talk about something important and, when would be good for you. Then, try to express how important the relationship is to you and the reasons that you feel you both could benefit from counselling (don’t say what your partner is doing wrong).
Listen carefully to the response you receive while trying to empathize with your partner s position (you may want to share some of your concerns about entering therapy as well). Try not to be triggered into negative habits and patterns. Do, however, stand firm in your desire for positive change for both of you.
Prepare for Your Partner’s Reaction
For a long time there has been a stigma associated with psychotherapy. Even thought this is changing, most people still feel some degree of uneasiness about asking for help. Your partner may experience shame, ridicule, betrayal, humiliation, inadequacy, or a fear that the “family secrets” will be revealed.
In addition, your partner may fear that the relationship has failed because you are introducing the subject (and that therapy will only accelerate the process). He or she may also be concerned that you and the therapist are going to “gang-up” possibly for the purpose of proving your mate is a bad person.
Your partner may feel that the situation is hopeless and that it cannot get better because you have tried very hard and things have not changed. If your partner says there is not a problem or that only you need help, gently remind your partner that all relationships consist of two people with actions and reactions.
If your partner will only agree to participate for your benefit, then say, “That’s fine, we’ll both go as a favour to me. You can provide important historical information which will make my therapy much more effective.” Once your mate feels more comfortable, he or she may decide to fully participate.
Despite all of the difficulties you are both experiencing, a part of your mate “knows” that things need to change. Hopefully you can face the challenge of entering therapy together as a team.
Make the Decision Simple
Contact several therapists by telephone who specialize in couples counselling. Briefly discuss your situation and ask the therapist for his or her reaction. Ask the therapist to outline his or her training and experience with the issues you present. If you feel comfortable, then talk further about financial arrangements (fees), cancellation policies and the times that are available for an appointment.
What If You Are Not Successful?
Despite your best efforts, your partner may resist to the idea of counselling. You may want to consider individual counselling to deal with the impact relationship problems are having on you and to help prepare you for the future.
As a couple or an individual, you can contact the Montreal Therapy Centre for online or in-person couples counselling, family therapy or individual psychotherapy.