Over 20 years as a therapist, I’ve met many couples that are unable to work things out, even with therapy on their side. But it’s not the fault of therapy. Truth be told, I’ve met very few couples with truly irreconcilable differences.
The numbers of people who come to therapy as a last-ditch effort astounded me at first, but over the years, when a new client books an hour with me, I never know which group they’ll fall into… the committers or the quitters.
It’s about half and half, those two groups, but I believe the ratio of success to failure could be much higher if troubled couples sought out help sooner. Between the two groups, we’re actually comparing apples to oranges. The fact is that the people who fail at fixing their marriages and relationships are the ones who aren’t both giving it their all in trying.
They book an hour with me and drag in, just barely able to look at each other, and maybe they expect some magical spell to transform them, or maybe they don’t have the energy any longer to do any of the work. I now believe that some people simply come to therapy to confirm that their relationship is over. They spend the hour complaining about each other and then repeat the pattern for a few more weeks before they — or I — ultimately decide to stop wasting time.
For some couples, divorce is what they’re seeking; only they feel some need for confirmation from a therapist before visiting a lawyer. Even the ones who are trying, sometimes they’ve simply waited too long and there’s no pulling them back because someone can’t let go of resentment.
However, I know healing is possible in even the darkest hour. I’ve seen committed relationships come back from the edge of destruction due to one or both partners’ belief in the other to recreate a new relationship with the same beloved. In spite of pain, betrayal, boredom, general differences in personalities, and unrealistic expectations, couples who commit to one another can rebuild an even better relationship than they had before.
The main reason therapy doesn’t “work” (when it doesn’t work) in my view is that people wait too long before getting help. My experience proves that destructive patterns can be nipped at the stem if they’re caught soon enough. Small hurts can be patched before they become the black ice of resentment.
Here’s another interesting reality: Women are usually the ones who ones who initiate therapy. Incidentally, they’re the ones who file for divorce more often, too. Men tend to approach therapy only when there seem to be no other options, or when the woman issues an ultimatum. Perhaps from a sense of being the one who feels responsible for the happiness of the marriage, or from a go-it-alone, masculine, can-do attitude; men tend to be more reluctant than women to ask for help. However, once their backs are against the wall, many committed men learn new relationship skills, along with the woman that brought them into the therapist’s office. It’s a beautiful thing to see two people work together to regain love, rebuild trust, and experience love and passion again.
I honestly can say that any differences can be smoothed over, celebrated, or worked through if both parties are sincerely intent on success.
Commitment and resilience are the saving graces of any long-term relationship.
I’m committed to my clients and patients, certainly, and work with a belief in the human longing for connection and love. I also believe that most people can use tools to dramatically boost their enjoyment of their relationships and experience happiness with their partners – before therapy is necessary! I can’t stress that enough.
In fact I’m putting together a 6-week course teaching people (BEFORE they need therapy) the basic skills that deeply satisfied couples know. These practices, tools and ideas come up so often in my therapy practice that I decided to share them with as many couples as possible outside my practice – couples who are looking for a deeper relationship, better sex, more security, delight, calm and peace in their home lives. (In short, just about every couple!)
Please take a look and my invitation to work with me though this easily accessed group coaching transformation. I’d be honored to contribute my experience and teachings so you and your partner experience more enjoyment in your relationship. Click here to learn more
about the course “Connected Couples: Making Love Last a Lifetime”
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