Are you reading this page because you are in a romantic and committed relationship, and you have begged and begged your partner to go to counseling with you, but your partner still refused? Or, perhaps, you are quietly hoping for a better relationship, but you don’t know how to talk to your partner about that…
If so, please keep reading.
I often receive phone calls from individual clients asking me what to do or say to convince their spouses to come in with them and start couples counseling.
I also often work with individuals who wish and hope for a different relationship, but they have no idea how to go about that without starting a fight or hurting their partners.
You might be feeling angry, frustrated, hopeless, helpless, stuck, and discouraged. I don’t blame you! I would feel similarly if the one person whom I care about the most didn’t want to work on the relationship with me. That can be also a very lonely feeling… As if you were in the relationship solely by yourself.
Perhaps you started loosing sleep over this topic or you find yourself more and more thinking and saying: “If you only went to counseling with me, everything would be better between us.” Or “Why are you so difficult? What is wrong with you? Why don’t you care as much as I do?” Becoming more critical of your partner, as difficult as it is for your partner to hear, is only a sign that you haven’t been heard or even acknowledged… We all need to be heard and seen! If we’re ignored, our nervous systems go into panic mode. You might be getting desperate because no matter how hard you try to talk to your partner, you find your partner disappearing and distancing away from you.
Perhaps you are less vocal about your struggles because you don’t want to start a fight with your partner only by mentioning couples counseling. After all, what if you do mention that you would like for you and your partner to seek help in your relationship, and your partner starts getting upset, “Here we go again, you are unhappy with me, and I must have messed up in some way.” Even though it is very common and understandable for our partners to go into their “shame spirals,” what they often don’t realize is that they are leaving you alone with your feelings and needs. That is difficult, especially when you got into a relationship so that you don’t have to be alone with your feelings and needs. You might be getting tired of loneliness, and you’re dealing with it in various ways… Working more, checking out to electronics, excessively exercising, or even starting to fantasize about “stepping out of your current relationship.”
You Don’t Have to Wait for Your Partner… You Can Start Individual Couples Counseling and Learn New Ways of Communicating!
Because I work with so many couples, only by you telling me what your partner usually says, I can help you understand your partner better, and, therefore, teach you how to approach your partner differently.
I know and believe that you don’t mean to be angry and critical or shut down and withdrawn from the relationship. I also know that there might have been so much hurt in your relationship that your critical pursue or your defensive withdrawal are just your ways of showing your partner how lonely you are or how intimidated you are by your partner’s responses. That makes sense. Individual Couples Counseling can help you feel more “resourced,” and, therefore, more open to finding a different way of getting your points across.
… But How Can Individual Couples Counseling Help if My Partner Doesn’t Work on Him/Her-self?
That is a great question. In Individual Couples Counseling, we are going to be working only with you, not your partner. Even though I will inquire about your partner and your relationship with him/her, I am here to help YOU! Help you get more understanding and organization around your own feelings, perceptions, triggers, and behaviors. Help you experience yourself in your relationship differently, just by engaging with you in a conversation about it. Finally, I am here to help you change your steps in a dance with your partner so that we can experiment how that changes your partner’s moves, and, therefore, your relationship.
… But I Am NOT the Only One who Needs to Change!
You are right! It does take two to tango. You can be the most self-aware person and you can even change your steps in the dance, BUT, somehow, that will not change your partner. Then what? Well, then we can have a discussion what else might be getting in the way of you and your partner having a fulfilling relationship. We will brainstorm together and find you more resources.
… But What If Individual Couples Counseling Helps Me, BUT It Doesn’t Help Our Relationship?
Partners, usually unconsciously, develop a pattern of interactions. When one does A, the other one does B. It happens automatically. If, thanks to counseling, you start doing C instead of your regular A, your partner, for a while, will continue doing B because of family homeostasis where people “resist change” and strive to maintain stability. However, with time, your partner may start changing. That is when you will need extra support from me to actually notice these changes because, at that point, you will still remain “programmed” to expect the same.
Importantly, what might also happen is that despite you doing C (instead of your regular A), your partner will keep doing the same old thing. That will be not only discouraging, but also threating to your relationship with your partner. In that case, we might have to discuss and talk what other options you and your relationship have.
… But What If My Partner Thinks that I Am Only Going to Counseling Because I Want to Talk Badly About Him/Her?
That can happen, and, in fact, it happens all the time! In that case, I want to help you find ways to describe to your partner WHY you’re doing Individual Couples Counseling. Also, I want to reassure you that Individual Couples Counseling IS NOT about you venting to me about how horrible your partner is. That is not productive. This is about something else, something that can actually make a difference.
…But What If My Partner Agrees to Start Couples Counseling? Can I Continue Working with You?
In that case, if you want, we will invite your partner to your session. I will NOT start doing couples counseling with you (since, at that point, I will be YOUR individual therapist), but I can spend up to 3 sessions with you and your partner talking about what YOU and I worked on. In a nutshell, we will get your partner up to speed. I had some cases where that is all that was needed for the relationship to change. In other cases, I would simply provide a referral to a couples’ counselor who you both can start seeing.
In my Individual Couples Counseling sessions, clients might often say: “I understand myself more, AND that helps me understand my relationship.”
I don’t know about you, but when I have a better clarity about myself, then my level of clarity also improves with the people I interact with. From that clear space, I feel way more equipped to handle the challenges of being in a relationship. Now, that feels empowering and inspiring to approach a relationship with that sense of emotional intelligence.
Why Should I Pick You Out of All the Other Therapists?
This one is easy—because I am a couples’ therapist, so I know how relationships work and how they fall apart. Often times, individual therapists don’t have training in couples’ counseling, and they simply don’t know enough about love. They know a lot about “self-love,” independence, and they will be promoting that by saying things like “You cannot depend on him/her! You just have to make yourself happy. Maybe you should leave him/her.” Importantly, an individual therapist who is not trained in working with couples might start “taking sides” and possibly add to your negative view of your partner. That is not helpful. My goal is to advocate for your relationship, even though I am not seeing your partner! (Well, unless you are coming to me with a completely different goal feeling uncertain about your relationship or needing encouragement to leave your relationship).
If you would like to chat more with me about Individual Couples Therapy, please call me or email me.