As a therapist, I often have a front row seat to relationship miracles. Well, okay, there are no miracles really. The fact is “fixing” a relationship takes work. It takes two people wanting it to work and then putting in the effort.
Having said that, I have seen couples go from nearly ending it to being back in love, and liking and respecting each other.
Couples therapy can be a powerful change agent, there is no doubt about it. But what allows some couples to make it while others don’t? The couples I have seen recover from marital issues and form an even stronger union have all had certain things in common.
Here are some ways you and your partner can get the most out of couples therapy and set yourselves up for success.
Many couples view therapy as a last-ditch effort, which makes it all the more important to go all-in and commit to the process entirely. And even if therapy is your first attempt to salvage the relationship, it’s important that both parties give it their best effort.
This means even if nothing else has worked, and even if you’re both at each other’s throats most of the time, you leave any Bottom of Form defensiveness, criticism, contempt, or stonewalling at the door. These will only impede any progress that may be made.
- Be Open Minded
It’s common to be skeptical of therapy if you have no experience with it. It’s also common to feel skeptical that your particular problems or issues are too big to be overcome. While there are no guarantees in life, my professional experience has shown me that most relationship issues are solvable. But if you believe that they aren’t, you’re setting yourself up for failure right at the outset.
Real change requires an open mind.
- Do Your Homework!
You don’t spend money and time on college to NOT do any of your homework. The same goes for couples therapy!
During your sessions, your therapist will help facilitate respectful and effective communication and give you tools to get the same results at home. But it is up to YOU to use these tools at home.
Your relationship will not be “fixed” every Tuesday from 4:15 to 5:00 pm, it will be fixed from the work you both do on your own time. The point of therapy is to learn how to navigate obstacles and conflict as they arise in everyday life outside of the therapist’s office.
Couples therapy is a wonderful resource that helps many couples overcome challenges. If you’re willing to commit to the process, have an open mind, and do the homework, you and your partner have an excellent chance of creating a healthy and respectful relationship.
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