Are You Ready to Start Couples Counseling?
Are you ready to start couples counseling? When intimate bonds fray, it’s typical for couples to tough it out without help for years.
Only about 19% of distressed couples ever muster the courage to enter couples therapy.
These are the brave souls who aspire to do better… for themselves, and for their kids. And many of these couples have been miserable for 6 years or more.
Despite these sobering truths, science-based couples therapy such as the Gottman Method are incredibly effective. Another evidence-based method, Emotionally-Focused Therapy, has impressive success rates of 70% to 90%.
Couples therapy can be expensive, exhausting, educational, and exhilarating. you might even want to prepare for it. If you’ve been kicking around the idea …how do you know if you’re actually ready to start couples counseling?
5 Ways You Know That You Are Ready to Start Couples Counseling
- You’re Ready to Fess Up To Your Part In the Conflict. If it’s beginning to dawn on you that you’ve also contributed to the marital mess you’re in… that’s a good start.
- Couples therapy will only gain traction when both of you see the demon dance you’re in. But if your sole focus on entering couples counseling is that you are essentially blameless, and your partner is the problem…well you’re probably not ready yet.
- One of the few exceptions to this are issues around domestic violence. Even affair recovery may eventually take you to the often uncomfortable subject of unpacking of how the two of you drifted apart in the first place.
- You’re Highly Motivated and Ready to Commit the Time and Money to Couples Counseling. Therapy isn’t easy. Motivation is critical. Painful stuff will be on the table. You may feel exposed and vulnerable in front of a stranger.
We Normalize Your Plight
But when you start couples counseling, a competent science-based couples therapist will take great pains to normalize your plight. They will be a steward of hope, and shepherd the promise of recovery… even when you neither of you can at the moment.
Many couples struggle with the notion of weekly therapy sessions because it’s just too time-consuming. That’s why working online by HIPPA compliant video conference and weekend intensives are becoming increasingly popular. If you’re ready to start couples counseling you might be able to do it from your living room!
- You’re Open to Accept Influence in Couples Counseling. Understand that both of you will be asked to consider what’s not working for your partner, and to accept influence without becoming reactively defensive. The ability to accept influence, particularly for men, is a very important skill in couples therapy. Accepting influence from your partner is vital.
- You’re Willing to Accept The Idea That It’s Time To Do Something Different. This is the last and the most critical idea to entertain. Improving your marriage requires taking action.
By the time you start couples counseling, you may have tried a few things on your own with disappointing results.
Your fights might be a sad inventory of scripted conflict that seems to repeat endlessly like Groundhog Day.
This is where science-based couples therapy comes in. A skilled couples therapist will form a strong therapeutic bond with each of you. They will deftly control the session, bring up fresh ideas, and specific suggestions.
These suggestions may at first sound scary, silly, frightening, or a waste of time.
This is where your willingness to try something new is crucial. You will learn a new way to talk, a specific phrase to say to your spouse to repair where you use to escalate, apply relaxation techniques, or take a time-out when you’re getting flooded.
A New Way of Engaging
These behaviors may not feel natural at first….but haven’t your natural reactions brought you into this mess in the first place? Your willingness to try new ways of engaging with your spouse is the only way things real lasting change will happen.
And deep lasting change is what couples therapy is all about.
Couples sometimes start couples counseling with unrealistic expectations of joining with the therapist to gang up on their partner or look for the therapist to tell them whether or not they should divorce.
That’s is not the role of a therapist, or of the therapeutic process.
- You’re Willing to Change for Yourself. Therapy is a process where each of you can learn new skills, gain valuable insight, and practice communication and conflict resolution in a nurturing and supportive process.
Your ability to focus on your own growth is a sign that you’re ready to change. It’s not unusual for couples to report that many of their other intimate relationships; children, siblings, or parents are positively impacted when they start couples counseling.