25 Jun So Your Partner Thinks You Need Couples Therapy
We love working with couples in therapy!
Our client’s relationship with their partner is often their most important relationship, and we’re honoured to have couples sit with us and trust us with their most sacred, tender, and vulnerable moments. Working through issues within marriages and relationships is both emotional and rewarding. We’re grateful to get to witness couples strengthen their connections and become better communicators—all in the name of better relationships.
Navigating couples therapy can be tricky if one partner is less than excited, or completely against the idea. One partner might be eager to get to work on their relationship, while the other isn’t convinced that anything needs to change. Sometimes, people may have had a negative experience with another therapist in the past, leaving them feeling as though they’re on shaky ground, wanting to avoid counselling at all costs. On the other hand, some may have never visited with a therapist before, and the fear of what might happen behind closed doors is enough to leave them running in the other direction.
Maybe your partner has said, “We should talk to an expert about our relationship,” or mentioned visiting a couples therapist. We want to emphasize that this is usually a good sign—your partner values your relationship and is willing to try things out to make it work.
Let’s begin with squashing a few myths that might help you feel more at ease.
If your significant other has dropped a hint or two over the years about wanting to seek counselling, please try to understand where they may be coming from. Bringing up the idea of couples therapy with a partner is a vulnerable move. By approaching the subject, they’re saying that they’re not okay with the way things are going in the current relationship. They may be hurt, and want help working through it. If you’ve heard your partner mention this, it’s usually because they desire to repair a connection. However, the common reaction for the partner hearing this is to assume that they’re not good enough as a partner or person. Usually, that’s not the case. When your partner musters up the courage to suggest couples therapy, they’re admitting they’re ready to feel closer to you, and need a little help to figure out how.
On the other hand, if your partner has mentioned counselling in the past and it’s been radio silence on the topic ever since, don’t assume this means that everything is going just fine. It might not be okay, and your partner may have taken your initial lack of excitement as disinterest.
If you’re unsure, you can bring up the conversation again. Tell your partner you’re circling back to something they mentioned a few months (or years) ago to see how they’re feeling today. You can say you didn’t realize it’s significance until now, and let them know that you’re willing to explore the idea of couples therapy further.
If you’re concerned about couples therapy, here are some important things to know:
1. A therapist will not blame you. An experienced couples therapist helps partners understand their communication patterns and triggers that come up. Therapy is a safe and judgment-free zone, so a skilled professional won’t point the blame in any direction.
2. Even if you’re content with your relationship, therapy can be beneficial. If your partner is unhappy and you don’t see the problem, you might wonder, “What’s the point, can’t they just go on their own?” While it might be true that your partner has some stuff to work on, if your partner feels that their needs aren’t being met and they don’t feel as though they’re part of a healthy relationship, approach the event with curiosity and seek to understand where your other half is coming from.
3. It can be uncomfortable. Couples therapy can be hard because it may trigger lots of emotions. A therapist is skilled in helping you navigate your feelings—you don’t have to do it alone.
4. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Visiting with a couples therapist doesn’t mean that you’re not a good partner, or a good human. Often our relationship and communication skills can use some beefing up. Not everyone enters a partnership with a full set of relationship-building tools. Sometimes counselling is a space for you and your partner to learn things about yourself, the other, and how to create more communication and trust in your relationship to help take it to the next level.
5. We know you’re worried. You might be afraid to visit a therapist because of fears that it might not work. We get it; and this is a tricky one. Sometimes couples therapy helps to end partnerships because a therapist learns that some relationships have barriers too big to break down. This is an unfortunate and hard reality for therapists and partners. While it’s a risk to take a critical eye to your relationship and yourself, you’re taking the path to figure out how to get unstuck, and ultimately live your best life.
Couples therapy has it’s stressful moments and can temporarily increase relationship tension as part of the process. As you each learn how to communicate with more vulnerability, you’ll learn how to say the hard things and express your desires, you’ll stretch yourself further and can end up with a more profoundly satisfying partnership.
Written by Bliss Therapist Kelly McDonnell-Arnold. Learn more about Kelly and get her secret “Tips From the Couch” here.
Has your partner mentioned therapy? It’s not too late. You can dust off the topic, take a deep breath and bring it up again. Learn more about relationship therapy and book an appointment today.
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