Most people think couples counseling is only used to try to save your relationship. But if you’re in a position where things feel too good to leave but too bad to stay, couples counseling can offer an impartial guide.
Couples counseling can help you make up your mind about whether you should stay or break up—and about how you can handle either situation with maturity.
Lay Your Cards on the Table
The unknowns are part of what makes the decision to stay in your relationship or leave it so difficult.
Keeping feelings secret from your partner does not help and often makes things worse. You can’t fix your relationship unless you know the real issues affecting each of you.
Similarly, you need to be honest with yourself and your partner if you’re still harboring resentment about past wrongs. You can then resolve to forgive them, or decide that you don’t think you can.
Getting all the truth out in the open is like ripping off a bandage: It will hurt in the short term, but will ultimately help you heal.
Why You Need a Counselor
The closer we are to a situation, the less objectively we can view it. A counselor is a neutral, unbiased third party who can help you get some clarity and perspective. Communication skills can be taught and improved upon, too.
In addition, a counselor can help you sort out when some issues are deal-breakers. If you want kids and your spouse doesn’t, that difference is hard to resolve. You may also feel like you’ve already given up on the relationship but don’t want to admit it to yourself. A counselor can help you recognize if you want to save the relationship or if you really want to end it.
Marriage counseling always has the potential to help, but timing matters. Counseling is less likely to be helpful with a given relationship if you wait too long. Hostile communication patterns can destroy a relationship. If you put it off and put it off, by the time you finally decide to go to a counselor’s office, your relationship may be too far gone to save.
When possible, your best option is to seek counseling early in a relationship. You’ll learn healthy communication techniques that can help you avoid a lot of hurtful mistakes. You can also discover basic incompatibilities that may only become harder to accept over time. The help of a third party really can’t be overstated.
It’s All About Your Motivation
Love can conquer all, right? That’s certainly what our culture seems to buy into. Indeed, love can solve a lot of problems, but it also takes deep commitment. A couple that is highly committed to each other will be more likely to get positive results from counseling.
If you and your partner are equally committed to counseling, you will also be more likely to put in the effort to save your relationship. Counseling will also reveal if one or both of you lacks the motivation to work on your relationship. You can’t force yourself or your partner to feel something that’s not there.
And you both need to face the truth if the motivation really isn’t there. Motivation and commitment will make or break your relationship.
Conflict Isn’t Always Bad
You can’t avoid all conflict in a relationship. While disagreement may be unpleasant, the process can help you and your partner grow closer. Even if you go through a period of painful honesty about your relationship, it can be a good, cathartic experience.
Maybe you’ll decide to stay in your relationship and keep working on it, or perhaps you’ll realize it’s time to leave and start over. Either way, counseling can help you make that decision. When you make the decision in a peaceful frame of mind, you’ll be able to move forward with confidence.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to take a serious look at your relationship and figure out what needs to be done to get unstuck and off the fence, I would like to help. Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT