Couples Therapy can be really tough work, and often, the longer you’ve been married and not addressed the root issues, the tougher the work can become. I want to encourage you today that though the work can be difficult, it is not impossible. I want to share a few things that might be helpful to you and your spouse if you’re considering couples therapy.
Commit to the Work
First of all, effective couples therapy requires 2 individuals who both have their feet firmly planted in the process. It’s not unheard of to meet a couple where one or the other has dropped the ultimatum of “therapy or I’m done”. That might actually be a place to start the process, but very early on, and with the help of your therapist, the spouse who has been “dragged” to therapy needs to get some buy in to the process. For couples therapy to fly, both individuals need to be able to commit to the work.
Be Prepared to Own Your Part
Secondly, couples therapy can be a very humbling space. Stories and themes can arise that paint both individuals in not so flattering a light. Remember that your therapist is not there to play judge and jury. Your therapist is not a disciplinarian. Your therapist is working with you to understand the cycle of conflict and suffering that has held your marriage back from its fullest potential. Be prepared to swallow your pride and look at yourself squarely in the mirror. Couples therapy cannot be solely about all the things your partner needs to hear about him or herself. If you both arrive at therapy prepared to own your part, you can begin to experience real change in your marriage.
Identify the Process
Lastly, effective couples therapy will often focus on your process, and steer away from all the content. What that means is that while we may use particular content from a recent interaction, or a particularly painful conflict from the past, the focus is not on “he said/she said”, but on the movements each of you made to drive the dysfunction. In other words, the content will change, but the process tends to stay the same. Identifying the process is crucial to the work of couples therapy.
Some therapists call this process “The Dance”. You know it by heart. You aren’t thinking about what you’re going to do next. Effective couples therapy helps individuals become more conscious of their own emotional movements and therefore grow in their capacity to choose their subsequent movements in more functional ways.
Take your time choosing the right therapist. You and your partner need to feel really comfortable with this person if you’re going to be able to delve deeper into what drives your conflict.
If we, at Cedar Tree Counseling can be of any help in your search for the right therapist, please feel free to give us a call. We’re here to help.
Men & Couples Therapist | MA, LMFT
I help men and their families, who are hurting, angry, and struggling to find their way through life’s challenges, to create real and lasting change.
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