Question: My partner and I generally have a good relationship and I think we have a future together. However, over time our disagreements have turned into arguments and our arguments are often hurtful. I think that going to couples counseling would help but I’m afraid my partner won’t receive the suggestion well. Without intervention, I am afraid that our relationship won’t survive.
Answer: Counseling or therapy – whether individual, couples or even group – is an extremely controversial topic. Culturally, therapy is not perceived as acceptable and that if you want or need it, you have a deeply-rooted problem.
In response to this controversy, I compare it to this analogy: if you discover you have cancer, it is risky because you can become very sick, very quickly or it can take a slower course and have a long-lasting effect on your health. Either way, what is guaranteed is that without treatment, you will likely die. (Sorry for the morbidity.) Simply put – if you are sick, you seek help to get better.
Enduring problems in your relationship that grow increasingly more aggressive require assistance from a professional; in this case, a counselor or therapist. If you knew what to do, you would do it and save your relationship but it’s not that crystal clear. Relationships are complex because people are complex. There is nothing wrong with you if you decide to go to therapy. It only means that you are making a responsible decision to get help to solve a problem and in this case, it’s your relationship.
I suggest first having a conversation with your partner about the issues you’re having and that you want to get help to save your relationship. It might not be easy to hear but if he/she feels similarly and acknowledges the issue(s), it’s a start. If they don’t feel the same, it could mean that they aren’t ready to acknowledge the issues or that their ideas about the future of the relationship may be different than yours.
Additionally, one of the most important factors that contributes to the success of the therapy is finding a therapist that works for you. All therapists are unfortunately not created equal. If you’ve had an initial conversation about your issues with your partner and are in agreement, look for a therapist together. You have to do your homework. Some therapists will give you information on their areas of specialty to help you make an easier decision. It could also mean that you have to visit more than one to find the right fit. Don’t feel obligated to see someone continually that you’re not sure is being helpful. You’ll know when you click with someone.
Whether talking to each other or if you do make it to the therapist, remember not to place blame. Remain open and honest and keep your ultimate goals in front of you – your love for each other and your desire to save your relationship. Good luck.
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