People increasingly use couples therapy to address difficulties in their relationships. In long-term partnership, some difficulties are inevitable; it is how you manage them that matters and therapy can help with that. So if you are struggling, don’t put it off; problems may get further cemented in. Doing nothing is the biggest risk for yourselves and any children. If you both feel able to work on this at home see Improving Things, Six Steps .
If you are thinking of couples therapy, find a therapist with experience and qualifications which include working with couples. Some professional therapist associations provide information and guidance about people in your area. Agree about a male or a female therapist. Shop around and discuss what each therapist has to offer – initial meeting, phone discussion etc. The most important thing is that you both feel OK with this person; if there is any discomfort beyond that which you would naturally feel in this situation, go elsewhere. After choosing someone it helps to commit to four or six sessions to begin with. Be patient; give yourselves the time to solve complex emotional problems.
Studies have shown that people who know what they want from therapy, get most out of it. Be specific: not “I want to be happy”, but: “What problems do I/we want to work on? “How can I understand more about my partner?” “What vision do we have for a good future?” Etc.
Long-term relationship is one of the most difficult things we do in our lives. Compared with a job: it may last longer, involve far more hours, personal energy, resources and responsibility. It profoundly affects any children. Equivalent employment would demand education and training to degree level at least! So ‘unqualified’ couples often need help in getting unstuck and in maintaining harmony and loving feelings for each other. Therapy is an opportunity to learn how to do love and relationship better.
There is a bewildering variety of types of therapy. This site recommends Imago Couples Therapy*, while fully recognising that there is wonderful work done through other disciplines. Trusting your therapist matters more than anything else.
Some people wonder if therapy is worth either the effort or the cost; but ask yourself:
‘Is there anything in my life more important than my relationship?’
*An alternative might be a couples weekend or course such as Imago “Getting the Love You Want.” Or “Keeping the Love You Find” for singles.
With thanks to:
Imago Therapy and “Getting the Love you Want” by H Hendrix,
Keeping the Love you find by H Hendrix
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