Couple Counselling / Relationships
How to Talk to Your Partner About Couples Counseling
The decision to go to couples counseling is difficult. Although you may find it necessary, admitting that you need a professional’s help can feel like a personal failure. Couples might avoid the subject because it officiates the haunting feeling that things aren’t going as they should in the relationship.
But the only way to get better is to be honest. Bringing up the idea of couples therapy to your partner can be even more intimidating. You may not have talked about it, or you may fear that suggesting counseling only leads to greater confrontation and distance.
Although it is difficult, addressing the need for therapy when the need arises is always best. Waiting to get help only causes problems to continue and create a greater barrier between communication and intimacy. Couples counseling could be the step you and your partner need to rebuild and reconnect in your relationship.
Starting the Conversation
You should sit down with your partner and let them know exactly why you want to go to counseling. This requires a great deal of vulnerability and honesty, which can be hard to muster. But taking the first step can demonstrate to your partner how committed you are to them and the relationship.
Someone has to make the first move, though going to therapy is a mutual decision. Let your partner know that you love them, and explain what problems have led you to seek therapy without being accusatory.
Rely on I-statements to express yourself. Rather than saying, “You never talk to me anymore,” try, “I feel a disconnect between us, like we don’t talk as much as we used to. I don’t quite know how to reach you, and I’d like to work on that together. I miss sharing things with you.”
It’s important to explain how issues and actions on both sides impact you. Recognize your own partner’s feelings as well. A couples counselor will be there to honor both of your perspectives and your shared bond.
The conversation should also be centered around a goal that you can work toward together. Counseling is not a place to “fix” anyone, because none of us are broken or damaged. Instead, it brings greater awareness to problems and helps people find solutions using their unique strengths.
What Will Happen in Couples Therapy?
We will work with you to identify key issues in the relationship. We do not take sides, but instead opt to build greater trust and respect through mutual empathy. You will both be encouraged to listen with an open mind and heart and take accountability for your own actions.
To avoid falling into the same patterns of conflict, disconnect and avoidance, your therapist will guide the conversation to help you both learn to recognize and value each other’s side of the story. Unifying that story into a healthy, harmonious relationship is the ultimate goal.
Benefits of Couples Counseling
The greatest benefit of couples counseling for many is the opportunity to speak openly. It can be hard for couples to express themselves clearly in a relationship when there is anger, fear and anxiety clouding the connection between them. Therapy gives each person a place to be present, express themselves openly and discuss rather than judge and defend.
Couples from every age and walk of life can benefit from working with a counselor to improve their communication and build upon their strengths as individuals. It can be the stepping stone a couple needs to reach a deeper level of trust and intimacy that only comes from overcoming challenges together.
Couple Counselling / Relationships
The number one factor in satisfying relationships is appreciation. I know. It sounds too simple. If you think about it, though, every one of us knows how good it can feel to be appreciated! When we were children, we loved to be noticed for who we were and what we did. If you have children, it’s true for them, too. And it’s true for you and me today. Appreciation tells us that we are noticed and that we have something of value to offer others.
But appreciation is, seemingly, not easy. Somehow, we are uncomfortable with it. We resist giving it and receiving it. Why? Several reasons come to mind. Perhaps it feels somehow exposing. Maybe it feels like a set-up for disappointment or failure. Or does our thinking go something like this?… “No need to say thank you, it’s my job.” Or, “Why should I be appreciated for what I should be doing anyway?” Or more contemptuous, “So now you want praise for just being an adult and doing what needs to be done? Grow up!” These are all things I’ve heard from couples when talking about the desire to be appreciated.
We are missing the point. Just because we do something out of necessity or responsibility does not mean that we can’t appreciate a person’s willingness and action! I love it when Betsy says, “Thanks for packing the kids’ lunch’s,” or, “Thanks for vacuuming, for making the beds, for putting the kids’ down, for making dinner, for doing the dishes, for working so hard to make money for our family, for taking a risk tonight going out with new neighbors, or for…” The possibilities are endless!
If you were a fly on the wall in my house, you would probably think we were ridiculous. Over time, appreciation has just become a regular part of our daily interaction. It’s motivating and pleasant, and creates a positive energy that is deeply satisfying; that often “cuts through the sludge” when any one of us is less than excited to do some task that needs to be taken care of (which is also a daily occurrence in our family!).
John Gottman researched what he termed the 5:1 ratio. Five compliments to every one criticism. The 5:1 ratio has been shown, across time, to be predictive of satisfying relationships. Less than the 5:1 ratio and you are in trouble in your relationship (statistically). It’s kind of common sense, isn’t it? But we forget.
What works against the 5:1 ratio? The human brain! The human brain, it seems, is wired to pay attention to the negative – that which is not working, that which needs fixing or improving, that which needs changing, that which is missing, and/or that which is not pleasing. It’s survival, I suppose. But relationships don’t thrive when we are in survival mode. And in our daily lives, we don’t generally need to be operating out of survival mode.
So, why not give something different a try? Why not try highlighting that which IS working? That’s called APPRECIATION! In some ways, it’s simply positive reinforcement. It works with children. It works with dogs. And it works for you and me! Simple? Yes. Easy? Yes and No. The simple truth, though, is that it works. And your relationship is worth it.
If you are struggling with creating a culture of appreciation in your relationship, or if you are having relationship challenges of any kind, one of our therapists can help. Give us a call at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we can help you take the first step to improving your relationship.
For more information about relationships and relationship counseling, give us a call at 303-429-5099.