Saving Your Relationship: The Definitive Guide to Couples Therapy and Tips to Get Started
Maintaining a strong and healthy relationship is not an easy peasy, it can be as difficult as maintaining stable mental health. And in both cases, it is hard to know when it is necessary to ask for help. Many doubt whether they should go to couples therapy, mainly because they do not know what it is about. Marriage counseling can be the difference between happily ever after and “my lawyer will be calling yours soon.”
Relationships are like driving a car, only this time you are both driver and co-driver. The car will go as fast or slow, as far or as close as both of you drive it. The direction also depends on the both of you, and it can turn out that sometimes the road is bumpy and rainy and you don't see where you’re going and neither of you knows how to read a map. Couples therapy is like a voice-assisted GPS that can guide you.
Sometimes it happens that you refuse to guide yourself by GPS because you are sure you can get there without asking for directions. The next thing you know, you took east when you were supposed to go west and now you both sleep in separate rooms.
Ok I know I'm not the best with analogies but you get the idea.
If you have doubts about whether you and your pilot should get a GPS, here are some things to know to get rid of all the doubts about marriage counseling. Read on...
What Is Couples Therapy All About
It's like any therapy, only this time, you go with a therapist specialized in group sessions for families or marriages. The theoretical orientation (which method they'll choose to help you) chosen by the therapist will vary from one to the other, in addition to the techniques and methods they prefer. Regardless of what the couples therapist decides to do, everything must be aimed at having a better understanding of the functioning of the couple, solving the conflicts that exist and having tools to cope with them.
The style of the session should be suitable for both of you, and you should feel comfortable with the setting and the therapist's practices. Don't be afraid to try more than one until you find the right one.
Do I Really Need Marriage Counseling?
In a perfect world, you go to couples therapy before there is a real problem. But just as we don't go to a dentist until a tooth hurts or go to the mechanic until smoke starts coming out of the car, this almost never happens.
Until something is on fire, we tend not to dedicate time or effort. If the idea of going to therapy with your spouse barely crosses your mind, consider going right away, before there is a conflict.
If there is already a problem, don't worry, there is still time. The signs are always there, you just have to know how to recognize them. No one knows your relationship better than you and your partner do, when you know that something is out of place, something feels different, it is probably time to go to marriage counseling. Don't wait until you're throwing vases at your spouse or even putting holes in the walls with your fists to accept that it's time to ask for help.
How To Prepare For Couples Therapy
Research, research, research! Make sure the therapist you choose is certified. You really don't want to end up with a love guru recommending spiritual drinks and going to Burning Man (your relationship is doing plenty of burning).
Before you even step into the office, you lovebirds must talk and get on the same page. Therapy alone will not be effective, it needs attention, openness, participation and interest from you both. You must understand that it is not a fight between you two, it's you vs. the problem. If you both have the same mindset, resolving the conflict will be much easier and couples therapy will be much more effective.
What To Do If Your Partner Refuses To Go
This happens in almost all cases, it is perfectly normal. Even if you both agree to go to therapy, some of you may not be so sure or convinced of what is discussed in the sessions. This is when communication is key, let your spouse know that therapy is an opportunity for both of you, not just for you. Also, make sure your partner understands how important it is to you that both of you attend and are comfortable.
If you have already convinced your partner to attend therapy, it is an important advance, since the counselor also has the responsibility of letting you two know the importance of counseling. Basically speaking you are not alone in this.
What Results To Expect From Couples Therapy
You must understand that the family therapist's job is not to keep you together and happy. At the beginning of the sessions, some goals should be established, such as resolving conflicts, whether they are about communication, sexuality, coexistence, etc.
A good couples therapy ends with both of you reaching a point of agreement where you are pleased, even if that point is the end of the relationship. The idea is that both of you have the tools to cope with problems, come to terms with each other, and be comfortable with yourself feeling emotionally healthy.
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