Questions To Ask Yourself Before Entering Couples Therapy
Nearly half of divorced couples today tried couples counseling before calling it quits. In other words, for nearly half of divorced couples today, counseling didn’t work. Those couples were facing lengthy, emotionally and financially draining divorces and weren’t able to make couples therapy work for them, and save themselves the trauma. That’s something to think about if you’re going to attend couples counseling with someone to whom you’re not even married. I’m not saying couples counseling doesn’t work, but I am saying you need to be truly committed to it if it’s going to; couples with far more on the line weren’t able to make it work. Couples counseling is also quite expensive. Your insurance isn’t going to pay for it because it isn’t related to a mental illness or individual condition. These are all things to consider before making your first appointment. Here are questions you should ask yourself before attending couples therapy.
Am I willing to change?
If you had to change your habits and behavior drastically to make this relationship work, would you? Would it be worth it to you to have to make a conscious effort, throughout the day, every day, for months to behave and speak differently, in order to save this relationship? If this relationship isn’t worth that trouble to you, then couples counseling won’t work because you will almost certainly be asked to change.
Do all my relationships end up here?
One very important question should be addressed: are you a couples counseling addict? Have you had more than two relationships end up in couples counseling? Relationships need to be in pretty serious trouble to wind up in counseling so if most of yours do, then you have more of an individual problem: you choose the wrong partners. It is not normal to need therapy for most of your relationships.
When it was good, was it even that good?
What are you fighting for? Before there was turmoil, were you and your partner over-the-moon happy? Could you say you’d never been that happy before? Could you say it was total bliss and harmony? Or were things just, you know, fine? You should only fight for a relationship that was, at one point, incredible. If the best your relationship can be is fine, then you’re going to end it eventually anyways so don’t spend money on therapy.
Have we always fought?
Have you been fighting from day one? Here’s a bit of a jolting concept: relationships should be overwhelmingly easy for at least the first TWO YEARS! Some people are addicted to drama or just can’t find the right person and so they start fighting in their relationships from month one, or day one. If your relationship wasn’t able to be peaceful and happy for at least two years—fine, we’ll be generous and say one year—then you’re just with the wrong person. And you may need to do some personal work yourself in therapy alone.
Have I been to therapy alone?
Speaking of going to therapy alone, have you? Here’s the thing that therapists aren’t supposed to tell you but I will: sometimes you are the problem. You know this is true because you’ve looked at other couples objectively and seen so clearly that one person had issues and that’s what was messing up the relationship. Do your due diligence and go to therapy by yourself before going to couples therapy, just so you can make sure you don’t have individual issues muddying the situation.
Am I willing to apologize?
Will you be able to check your pride and apologize even if you don’t think you did anything wrong? Can you apologize for the feelings your actions created in your partner, even if you didn’t intend to create them? That’s what a lot of therapy is. It’s not about what your intentions were: it’s about what happened, regardless of intentions.
How long have we been together?
As already stated, it’s a bit counterintuitive to save a relationship that couldn’t even manage to be peaceful for a full year. With that in mind, you should at least have been together for two years—happy or unhappy—before seeing a therapist. If you walk into a therapist’s room and tell her you’ve been with your partner for nine months and already need therapy, she’s going to think you should walk out the door, break up, and find someone new.
Do I actually love this person?
Well, do you? Or are you just settling because you don’t want to be alone? Are you just trying to keep the relationship alive for the mere fact that you’ve been together for so long? Look, if you fell out of love a long time ago, what are you fighting for? Staying together simply because you’ve been together for a long time isn’t a good reason.
Can I spend my life with this person?
Before dedicating time and money to couples therapy, you should make sure there aren’t other factors that would naturally end this relationship eventually, happy or unhappy. For example, does your partner insist on living on the other side of the country eventually while you absolutely refuse to leave your current city?
Would I be happier without this person?
Imagine a life without this person. Would you be happier that way? Would you be happier without this person than you are with them even when you get along? That’s something to think about. If you are happier alone than you are with this person, even in good times, you’re with the wrong person.
Do I hate my partner?
Most couples therapists will tell you that if there is contempt in the relationship—name calling, eye rolling, accusations—it will almost never work out. So, do you actively hate your partner? You should know that that is very difficult to come back from.
Has the trust been broken?
Another problem that few couples can overcome is broken trust. If your partner has cheated on you—sexually, emotionally, financially or otherwise—you have to look inside yourself and ask if you think you’re capable of forgiving him. But not just forgiving him; trusting him again. Can you go that far? If you can’t, there’s no saving this relationship.
How much am I willing to devote to this?
You may need to take your precious lunch break to attend therapy. You may need to bail on your weekly lunch with your best friend. You’ll probably have to do homework—a lot of it. Are you willing to go all the way? Are you willing to make sacrifices to do all the therapist asks of you?
Do I think this will work?
If you’ve already decided couples therapy will not work then your relationship is dead in the water. And therapists can sense when you don’t think it will work—when you’re just sitting there, waiting for the session to be over.
How will I feel if it doesn’t work?
What do you feel about the prospect of going to therapy, doing all the work, and still losing this relationship? That could very well happen. Make sure you’re okay with that risk before jumping in.