Many people do not have faith in the results of couple’s therapy. They hear the stories of other couples. Couples who in a last ditch effort, see a therapist to salvage their marriage only to end up in divorce court. Oftentimes, couples therapy is a last resort—just a pit stop on the way to the divorce lawyer. Herein lies the inherit problem. The couple’s relationship was not priority number one before considering couple’s therapy, and they don’t treat it as such during therapy.
The couple’s relationship was not priority number one before considering couple’s therapy, and they don’t treat it as such during therapy.
As a couple’s therapist, I see couples that attend marriage counseling as a means to check the last option off the list. It makes it easier to accept the doomed fate of their relationship by checking therapy off the list. “Oh, well we tried counseling and it did not work.” When on the inside they are telling themselves “now I’ve tried everything. I can move on now.”
There is irony in this situation. First, you are willing to pay, on a weekly basis, to attend or not show up to appointments that you do not fully invest in. “Wait a minute, you say. I’m paying, isn’t that an investment?” Yes and no. An investment goes beyond throwing money at something; it means making an emotional investment as well. If you are willing to spend money this carelessly, then it speaks to your issues with money, as well. If during treatment planning for your couple’s counseling, your therapist suggests individual counseling as well, you need to follow through.
Without hope and willingness to follow through, you may as well pull out the yellow pages and look for a divorce lawyer instead of a couple’s therapist. Until you are serious about looking at how YOU have contributed to the breakdown of your marriage, and stop pointing your finger at your spouse, therapy will be the equivalent of spinning wheels in a rut developed over years of bad habits.
Your reaction may be, “You don’t know my spouse. He/she is completely to blame in this. I haven’t done anything to make this happen.” It is this kind of denial that prevents progress in couple’s counseling. When you are willing to look at yourself and see why you allowed yourself to be with someone that behaves in certain ways or are attracted to certain unhealthy, then progress can begin.
It takes being humble for couple’s counseling to work. When you are willing to see your part in the breakdown in your relationship, you have made a powerful first step. Face your own demons; don’t persist in focusing only on your spouse’s demons. When you can get past the excuses–the finding reasons to not be with your spouse, you can start looking at your marriage from a team perspective. You have leapt over a major hurdle when you can look past the “I am right and you are wrong” attitude.
If you’re thinking “it’s easier said than done. He’s hurt me. I’m not willing to look past what he has done,” then you must face one of the most difficult parts of therapy: forgiveness. As a Christian counselor I look at forgiveness from the feet of the cross. If Jesus was willing to allow His human body to hang on a tree and die an agonizing death for all of mankind in order to offer forgiveness for all who would accept it, what does that mean? What was His motivation? Love.Love brought you two together. Love, hope, willingness, and forgiveness will keep you two together. Couple’s therapy can help to guide you through the process.