As a couples therapist, I sometimes get a front row seat to relationship miracles. Well, not miracles, but you get it. The fact is “fixing” a relationship takes work. Real work. Not the “just show up once a week and complain about your partner” type of work. If you’re looking for ways to succeed in couples therapy, then you’re in the right place. But if you think one of them is going to be: find a therapist who will take my side so they can tell my partner their wrong, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Having said that, I’ve seen couples go from nearly ending it to being back in love. Sadly, I’ve also seen things go in the other direction. However, there are usually common denominators when couples fail in couples therapy.
Couples therapy can be a powerful change agent. But why do some couples succeed while others fail? I have seen recover from marital issues and form an even stronger union have all had certain things in common.
3 ways to succeed in couples Therapy
1. Commit To The Process
Many couples view couples therapy as a last-ditch effort, (WAY wrong approach by the way) which makes it all the more important to go all-in and commit to the process entirely. Even if it’s your first attempt to salvage the relationship, it’s important that both parties give it their best effort.
This means even if nothing else has worked, and even if you’re both at each other’s throats most of the time, you leave any defensiveness, criticism, contempt, or stonewalling at the door. These will only impede any progress that may be made.
2. Be Open Minded
It’s common and understandable to be skeptical of couples therapy if you’ve had no experience with it – or if you’ve heard horror stories from friends, family, or god-forbid, the internet. ????♂️
It’s also common to be doubtful that your problems are too big to be resolved. While there are no guarantees, experience has shown me that most relationship issues are solvable. But if you believe that they aren’t, then you’re setting yourself up for failure right at the outset.
Real change requires an open mind.
3. Do The Homework!
If you’re smart, you don’t spend time and money on college to NOT do any of your homework. The same goes for couples therapy! If you don’t do any of the work outside of the session, you’re wasting your time and money.
This is the number one reason why couples fail in couples counseling.
During your sessions, your therapist will help facilitate respectful and effective communication and give you tools to get the same results at home. But it is up to YOU to actually use these tools at home.
Your relationship will not be “fixed” every Tuesday from 4:00 to 5:00 pm, it will be fixed from the work you do on your own time.
The point of therapy is to learn how to navigate obstacles and conflict as they arise in everyday life outside of the therapy office.
Couples therapy is an invaluable resource that helps many couples overcome challenges. If you’re willing to commit to the process, have an open mind, and do the homework, you and your partner have an excellent chance of creating a healthy and respectful relationship.
Life is too short to be in miserable in your relationship. If you’re struggling to connect, find common ground, or support each other, find an awesome couples therapist you like and trust to help you rekindle the spark and reconnect.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.