One Person In Counseling Can Make A Difference
Individual counseling can be a great way to help your relationship. That can mean the one you have now, or the one you are looking for.
Why is that? Because you are fully half of every relationship you are in. Make improvements in 50% of a relationship, and you can make a huge difference in your own satisfaction.
Sometimes the other person refuses to change, or come to counseling. That doesn’t have to spell the end of your relationship. Even though I’m a counselor, I totally get the fact that many people think it’s weird. They don’t really know what goes on in a counseling office, and it may seem very threatening.
“Some lady I’ve never met is going to ask me about my feelings? And tell me how to live my life? Nope.”
Now, I know (and you probably know) that counseling is much more than that. I don’t tell anyone how to live their life. But some people have grown up with a notion that therapy means you’re “crazy” or whiny. For them, it can seem like almost a ridiculous idea to go plunk down your hard earned money to pour out your troubles to a stranger.
I get it.
But you deserve a great partner and a great relationship. That may mean you are the one to invest your time, attention and resources on yourself. This can be threatening to your partner. That person may fear you’ll find out you want things he or she doesn’t want to give. What they may not understand is that you already want these things. No amount of hiding from them will make your needs and desires go away, so they will impact your relationship anyway. Counseling is a way of taking control. It allows the two of you to actually look at these things and deal with them rather than having them affect you in hidden ways.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say one partner is very resentful about the other’s drinking. This dynamic can be incredibly destructive over time. If the resentful person gets counseling, they are probably at a point where things have gotten pretty bad and they might even be thinking about leaving the relationship. In a situation like this, counseling can help that person sort things out. They may still decide to leave, if that’s what’s best. Or, it might help them determine that they still want the relationship if they can create healthy boundaries for themselves.
Reasons People Resist Counseling
How about another example. What if one person sees every attempt to improve the relationship as evidence that they are being “attacked?” This is not uncommon. In a case like this, counseling can seem threatening because now they feel like the attack is even bigger. They may think they are headed for a full scale character assassination leading to the destruction of their relationship. This makes perfect sense, given the destructive cycle of arguments that many couples are stuck in. Counseling for even one of the partners can begin the process of examining and challenging these automatic negative assumptions to pave a way for growth and improvement.
But what if you don’t have anyone in your life right now? For between times, therapy can be even more beneficial. It can help you challenge your patterns before you get attached to a relationship that isn’t right for you. This can mean getting very clear about what has gone wrong for you in the past, and what you want your future to look like. It isn’t about finding the dream person who is perfect in every way. It’s about finding out whether you might be sabotaging yourself before you even go on a single date by bringing old baggage into new situations.
The point is this: if the only willing person you have is yourself, you can still begin a great relationship.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Springfield, Illinois. She helps couples build great relationships and repair broken ones.