It is my job to help couples become clear about their issues and to help them understand where their issues stem from. This can be anything from sex to money, or even minor habits or problems that are being blown out of proportion.
When you have an experienced counsellor such as myself, I will make both you and your partner feel heard. Your mental health is important, and if you neglect the problems in your relationship it will become compromised. Not only will your emotional state suffer, but your partner will likely notice their mental health deteriorate too. Repressing your problems in a romantic relationship can lead to resentment, anger and potentially a break up. Couples counselling is the perfect way for you and your partner to resolve your differences and lead a different path to a happier and brighter future.
If you are struggling to converse with your partner then here are a couple of benefits that may help you understand if couples counselling is for you or not.
You will learn how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. In couples counselling, you will learn communication skills that will help you not only listen to your spouse but, to also process what your partner is saying.
You will learn how to communicate more effectively. When you voice your needs clearly and openly without resentment or anger, your relationship will prosper.
You will learn how to be assertive without being offensive. Both participants need to be able to talk about their issues without fear of hurting the other spouse. In couples counselling, you will learn that you can get what you need without having to make demands and engage in conflict.
You will learn to process and work through unresolved issues. Couples counselling offers a safe environment for expressing any unhappiness you feel. Getting your feelings out into the open with the help of a trained professional may be all you need. You may find that your partner is more than willing to work together to solve the problems in the relationship.
You will develop a deeper understanding of who your spouse is and what his/her needs are. Better yet, you will learn more deeply who you are and what your personal needs are. You may end up finding that those needs can be met inside the relationship.
Are you thinking, “there is no way he/ she will agree to couples counselling!” Well, you’re not alone. If your partner refuses to partake in couples counselling, it may be that they are feeling vulnerable. Below is the process of change, and how couples counselling can help you move forward.
First, begin with cultivating clarity.
You must be clear about what it is you need changed. Sit back, perhaps with a trusted friend, and note what you can no longer live with. Is it his temper that you can no longer tolerate? Perhaps her lack of empathy? Get clear about the changes you need.
Second, be consistent with yourself and them.
A little change is not enough. Stop telling yourself that you can live with something you cannot live with. Deceiving yourself will not serve you in the long run. Arguing and bargaining with them only leads to more conflict and less change.
Third, armed with conviction, let them know what must change.
Prepare to take a stand, and be ready for resistance and greater consequences as you let them know you must have change. Do not engage in argumentation. Do not try to coerce or manipulate them into change. Let them know that you wish for them to be engaged in counselling with you and this is the acceptable path for change. Do not be manipulated into thinking a little change is enough progress, or that you can do this without expert help.
Fourth, determine the consequences.
A boundary without consequences is not a boundary—it is simply a hope or a wish. Wishes and hopes have not garnered respect. Begin with something simple, and lead in to something more severe. Your partner will determine how harsh the consequences need to be—you simply affirm based on your own needs. Have your list of consequences ready and rehearsed and follow through with a sense of calm.
Knowing that what you want—their complete involvement in a change process—is reasonable and healthy, you must follow through. While this will likely be met with anger, resistance and even counter-threats, they will ultimately respect you and likely agree to counselling.
In summary, couples counselling is a challenging journey. You will need emotional support as you make changes that threaten you and your relationship. In the end, the aim is that you will both be thankful you took the necessary steps to bring about healthy change. I hope that I can be the person to help you on your journey.