If your relationship or marriage has run into problems, and all attempts you have made to reconcile with your spouse have been unsuccessful, then you may be considering couples counselling as a last resort to stay together. There are many reasons why a relationship may get to this stage, and counselling is often the final step before a divorce becomes inevitable.
There are many people who are able to undertake couples counselling; whether you choose a medical doctor, a psychologist or a religious adviser, you must both be comfortable speaking to the person in question.
Otherwise, your sessions will be a waste of time and money even before you begin, as you are paying for something that you will be unable to truly use as it was intended, and it will not be able to help you.
Regardless of whether your relationship problems are related to your finances, family issues such as children, a lack of intimacy in your marriage, or infidelity, couples counselling may be of use to you. All of these are common reasons to seek professional help regarding your relationship, and your counsellor will not be shocked by anything you have to say on the matter – they will have heard it all before, many times.
What if I’m not in love any more?
You may be feeling that the romance has gone from your relationship and the two of you have simply drifted apart over time. This does not necessarily mean that you no longer care about the other person, but you are no longer in love with them in the way that you used to be.
If you are no longer feeling the spark of attraction that was there in the early stages of your relationship, then you may think that there is nothing you can do to fix it. It is normal to find that the romance and attentiveness decline during a relationship, as you have to deal with all the real life issues that occur. The effort you would have put in when you were dating simply cannot be maintained for ever.
This is the sort of situation where couples counselling may be of use to you in helping to put the romance back into your marriage, enabling you to avoid a divorce.
This may help to rekindle the feelings you thought had been lost over the course of your marriage, and you may decide that you want to try again, rather than simply give up.
What about infidelity?
If one of you has been unfaithful, then this may have been a result of feeling lonely, from arguing too much within the relationship, or a number of other reasons. Trust has been betrayed in this situation, and if you are going to be able to save your relationship and learn to trust again, then you may find couples counselling a useful step in the process. Infidelity is often the one thing that people say they would never be able to forgive, but when it actually happens, the betrayed spouse or partner will often be prepared to work at saving the relationship.
A couples counsellor may help here because it allows the two of you to meet somewhere that is not your house, but is not in public either. You will be able to talk about what led to the affair and what you can do now. The counsellor will also have some valuable input and advice that you may wish to try following.
How to make counselling work for you?
Focus on what you can change. Yes, if you are going to save the relationship, both of you will need to put in the effort. However, the only input you have control over is your own, so focus on what you can do to improve the situation. Think about what it is that you want from your relationship and be able to communicate this to both your spouse and your counsellor.
Be honest. If something is bothering you, then say so. Not expressing your feelings is partly what led to this situation, so now you need to learn to say what you are really thinking. If you cannot do this during the counselling sessions, you will be wasting your time as the relationship will simply fall apart again.
Be independent. You do not need to rely on your partner for everything, and you don’t need to go everywhere together. Develop some individual interests and start enjoying the time spent apart. This will give you something to talk about when you get home at the end of the day and you may find that you begin communicating more easily as a result. Couples therapy isn’t just about what goes on in the counsellor’s room, it is important to continue that work between sessions too.
When counselling will not help
If you think that couples counselling will be beneficial in your relationship, but your partner is either not convinced or is even downright opposed to the idea, then it is not the right option for you. It requires both of you to be committed to the process, and to be prepared to work on the suggestions and ideas give, even if you think they are ridiculous.
Attending counselling when you are against the idea is likely to do more harm to your relationship, making the divorce you are trying to avoid even more likely to occur.
Saving a marriage or long term relationship is possible to do, whatever the reasons behind your current difficulties. However, both of you need to be committed to the idea of trying to stay together – if one of you is determined to leave no matter what, then this may be the best option for you both. If, however, you both agree to go to couples counselling, then be prepared to talk openly and honestly, about any problems, you have been experiencing, and what you can do about it now.
Couples counselling will not be easy, for you or your spouse, but approaching it with an open mind will enable you to benefit more from it than you otherwise would.