At times, a person with intense emotions may decline support or even deny that they need to get help. This can be frustrating and hurtful to those who want to have a healthier relationship. If we are finding that our partner won’t seek out help on their own, it may be time to suggest couples therapy.
A couple’s therapist can assist with communication problems and other unresolved issues.
Counseling doesn’t need to be a long process, especially if we feel we have a solid foundation and only need some clarifications and goal-setting. For some people who are a “higher conflict” couple or have deeper issues to contend with, the process could take a bit longer.
Relationship counseling is under-utilized. Studies show that the average couple doesn’t seek professional help until six to seven years have passed since the relationship started to go downhill. Sometimes a couple is on the verge of divorce before they begin working with a counselor and they always wish that they had started counseling sooner. Going to see a mental health professional even when we experience occasional signs, has value because if left unaddressed, they grow in frequency and intensity over time.
There isn’t one “right approach” to doing therapy as there isn’t one way to live. It is useful to emphasize the importance of forming a connection with our partner. This means there is an implied understanding of values, a common frame of reference, a series of shared experience and a sense that both on the same page. These connections form the bonds that foster trust and promote intimacy.
It is never too early to meet with a counselor. We can all benefit from a skilled psychotherapist who can see patterns emerge from subtle signs and apply tools to help us change. Most clients seek counseling when they come to realize that their way of moving through life is not working. They have begun to see that it wasn’t bad luck or someone else’s fault.
They have started to look back on a lifetime of lashing out at problems. Instead of using their adult judgment to find solutions, they have come to the realization that they cannot manage their problems by themselves anymore. They need a guide to continue their journey without scorching the earth behind them. They need a new set of choices, a new way of moving through life.
If our partner resists couple’s therapy, we may want to get help on our own. A therapist can help us sort out our feelings and develop ways to cope with being in a relationship with someone with exaggerated emotional reactions.