Sometimes two people have to fall apart to realize how much they need to fall back together. And the need to fall back together oftentimes drives people into couples counseling. Not every relationship can—or should—be reassembled but working with a relationship therapist will help keep couples moving in some direction, rather than spinning their wheels dealing with the same old issues.
Throughout the couples counseling journey, relationship therapists are oftentimes able to gently facilitate discussions between the two partners. Other times, well, we gotta give you that “tough love” advice you probably don’t want to hear… but that will undoubtedly help your relationship or marriage.
Here is some of our favorite couples counseling advice that you probably don’t want to (but probably should) hear:
1. Pay up. If you or your spouse has a tendency to let your temper flare or engage in any one destructive behavior that is causing problems in your relationship, pay for it. Pick a charitable cause that is against your beliefs and give your partner five checks written out to it in $20, $30, $40, $50 and $60 denominations. For every outburst, your partner will mail in one of the checks, starting with the smallest and working up to the biggest.
2. Deal with your personal issues, too. Couples counseling is most effective when each partner, individually, is in a good place. If one partner has significant issues – think an affair, alcohol or drug abuse, depression, sexual abuse, codependency, etc. – those issues need to be addressed as well, either prior to, or in addition to, couples counseling.
3. Forget about being “right.” When you focus only on being right, you deny your partner her or his perspective. Focus on validating your partner’s experience and trying to understand where her or his feelings of pain or frustration are coming from. Right, wrong – it doesn’t matter when fixing your relationship is the priority.
4. Admit you’re having an affair. Admit, at least to yourself and your relationships therapist, whatever it is you’re doing behind your partner’s back. If you’re not being honest, couples counseling can’t help you. Hopefully your relationship therapist is observant enough to recognize the signs that one partner is having an affair, and bold enough to call that partner out. Only through honesty can a relationship therapist actually help a couple fall back together.
5. Stop all contact with an “affair partner.” Stop texting, emailing, calling, and/or seeing him or her, the person with whom you cheated on your partner. Your marriage or relationship deserves the respect of cutting all ties with this person and, in fact, your marriage or relationship will not survive if you stay connected with this person. It’s as simple as that.
6. Get a life. Your partner shouldn’t be your only friend, and you both need time away from each other. Rediscover your hobbies and outlets for fun and find balance between time spent together and time spent alone.
7. Go your separate ways. Some relationships just aren’t meant to be and that’s okay.
8. Do you want to live in ambivalence for the rest of your life? In couples counseling, we see it all the time: fear of long-term commitment and an inability to use the word “forever.” And that’s okay. Not everyone is programmed to be “all in” when it comes to a relationship. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your partner or want to be with him or her. It just means you have a fear of commitment! If “forever” feels like a 4-letter word, ask yourself if it would feel comfortable being ambivalent or “on the fence” about your partner for the rest of your life.
9. Stay or go. But choose! Are you on again, off again in your relationship? You can’t stay stuck in an endless cycle of “it’s over… but no, I think we can work it out,” or “I don’t want you…oh, but I can’t live without you.” This is unfair to you and your partner, not to mention children if they are on the sidelines. After a certain amount of time, you have to make a decision and never look back.
10. Don’t waste your money. If you just go to couples counseling to fight, or to appear as though you’re making an effort, you’re wasting your time and money. Relationship counseling is for working out problems, finding solutions, and gaining new skills. You can fight for free at home.
No relationship is exempt from a few rough patches here and there, but when the patches are so rough or so often that they stop the relationship in its tracks, couples counseling can help get the relationship moving again—in whatever direction makes the most sense. In most situations, couples emerge stronger and more resilient after investing their energy into marriage counseling.
Contact Creative Counseling Center
If you need relationship or marriage help, our team of relationship counselors are here for you. We offer some of the best couples counseling services in the Denver area. If you’d like to schedule a free phone consultation to tell us about your relationship or marriage woes, and to learn more about how we can help, just complete the brief form below. We look forward to helping you and your partner work through your issues and find your way back to happiness.