You’re experiencing relationship problems, you’re considering seeking professional couples counseling or therapy, and your partner doesn’t want to attend. If this sounds familiar, you’re far from alone.
One question I receive over and over again is, “Can couples therapy really be effective if only one partner attends?” After all, if you and your partner are at odds with each other, if you’re having communication problems, constantly arguing, or experiencing a lack of trust and intimacy in your relationship, wouldn’t it be best if both of you attended therapy together to work through the difficulties you’re facing?
The short answer, of course, is “yes.” Only by attending couples therapy together will both your partner and you learn to share your frustrations and feelings openly with one another, better understand each other’s desires and needs, and work together to build the relationship you both desire.
That having been said, professional counseling or therapy can still be tremendously helpful for you and your relationship, even if you end up attending therapy without your partner.
Why Couples Therapy?
As anyone who’s been in a relationship for any period of time has discovered, most relationships are anything but perfect. While they may be the source of our greatest joys, they can also be the cause of our deepest pain and heartaches.
We may dream of the ideal union, and our relationship may feel like matches made in heaven when they first begin. However, the reality is that we’re all unique individuals with our own ideas, opinions, thoughts, values, and beliefs.
Once the “honeymoon” phase has passed, it is not uncommon to feel like you’re really seeing your partner for the first time. You not only see the things you share in common, but also the things that separate you from one another and make each of you unique human beings.
It’s not uncommon for couples to think to themselves, or even say out loud, “You’re not the person I fell in love with!” or “You’re not the same person I married!” This is undoubtedly true, given that we’re all changing and growing all the time. However, the deeper truth may be the old adage that says, “love is blind.” When we fall in love we tend to downplay any personality or character traits that contradict our view of how wonderful we believe our partners to be.
Beyond the dawn of reality at the end of the honeymoon period, your differing values and beliefs can cause any number of relationship difficulties as time goes on, whether these differences manifest in parenting styles, how the two of you handle the loss of a job or the death of a loved one, how much time you spend together, or in any number of other areas in your life together.
Learning to cope with these realizations and realities, and working together to overcome them, as well as resolving specific problems, such as communication problems, intimacy issues, and infidelity are all reasons couples seek professional counseling and therapy. And couples counseling has helped countless couples overcome these problems and move forward in life with greater optimism and confidence in their relationships.
While this may make perfect sense, you’re likely wondering how couples counseling can possibly help an individual…
Relationship Counseling for One?
Unfortunately, many couples seek professional counseling and therapy far later than they should and they often approach couples therapy with unrealistic expectations.
It is not uncommon for one partner to want to seek professional relationship help long before the other considers it necessary. Just as often, by the time the second partner agrees to get professional assistance the first partner has already given up on the relationship.
Couples also commonly enter counseling with the hope of changing each other as opposed to changing themselves. However, in truth, the only person we can ever hope to change is ourselves.
Attending relationship counseling on your own avoids both of these problems. It can help you take action towards resolving your relationship issues without feeling stuck waiting around for your partner to attend therapy with you and it can help you understand the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that may be causing conflict in your relationship.
Not only this, professional counseling can also help you understand why you’ve decided to be with your partner, what drew you to him or her, what your goals are for your relationship, and whether or not you can achieve your goals with your partner.
If you feel your relationship is the main source of discontent in your life, it would obviously be beneficial for you and your partner to attend couples therapy together. But, if this is not an option, relationship counseling can still help you become more secure in your relationship with yourself. And becoming more aware and comfortable with yourself will benefit all of your relationships, both those you have today and any you have in the future.
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If you have any questions regarding the article above, or if I may be of any other assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 408-257-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to helping in any way I can!