Seven Commonly Asked Questions in Couples Counseling
The idea of couples counseling may seem daunting. According to Purdue University’s Couple and Family Therapy Center, getting your partner to agree to go is the most difficult part of couples counseling. Once you get over the first hurdle, you can start down the road to real healing. There are quite a few things that will likely come up in couples therapy that you and your partner may want to discuss beforehand. If they are difficult or quite possibly the reason that you are seeking couples therapy in the first place, then you may want to give your partner this list of questions so that he or she can think about them. You will want to take some time to think about them as well.
1. What are our biggest issues?
The things that are important to one member of a couple may not be the same as the things that are important to the other member of the couple. There is always going to some conflict when you are in a relationship, but agreeing on major points or being able to compromise on major points mitigates some of the potential conflict. During counseling, you will explore the biggest issues that the two of you have and try to find ways to work through them. In order to find solutions to your problems, you and your therapist will need to know what the problems are.
2. Are you going through a bad phase?
All relationships have good phases and bad phases. Sometimes both partners are having a difficult time or sometimes it is just one. Either way, think about the issues behind what you are currently going through. Are these issues that can be overcome or are they bigger than the relationship can handle?
3. How do you really feel about the relationship?
Dig deep and think hard on how you feel about your relationship. You may feel like it is too late and nothing can be done to save it, but your partner may feel like it is worth saving. Since you and your partner have made it to counseling, there is likely enough of a relationship left to work on. But you have to think about what you really want and you have to find out what your partner really wants out of the relationship. If you are on the same page, then there is something there to work on.
4. Do you trust your partner?
The strongest relationships are built on trust. It is one of the most important factors for being able to stay together in the long term. If you feel that you cannot trust your partner, or he or she feels that you cannot be trusted, there still may be hope. Whatever has causes this mistrust may need to be forgiven. If you cannot immediately say that you trust your partner, take some time to think about why. Think about what your partner may be able to do to win back your trust.
5. What are your couples therapy expectations?
Take the time to think about what you want to get out of counseling and encourage you partner to do the same. If you both go into counseling with the same hopes of making your marriage stronger and learning to connect on a different level then there is a good chance that you will come away with those things.
6. Are there past conflicts that need to be worked out?
It is nearly impossible to move forward if one or both of you carry anger and resentment toward the other one. The past will continue to come up in future arguments. It is very difficult to remain close to someone if you are still angry about something that happened in the past. Bring up these past unresolved angers in counseling. They will need to be worked out before you can move forward.
7. Do you feel accepted for the person that you are?
There are going to be things about you that you partner does not like. There are going to be things about your partner that you do not like. There is not rule saying that you have to like everything about someone all the time. However, to be in a solid relationship, you do have to accept your partner as the person that he or she is. Thinking that you are going to be able to control and manipulate him or her into being what you want is unrealistic. If your partner is an introvert, he or she is going to have different needs than if he or she were an extrovert. You do not have to completely understand his or her behavior or requests, but you do need to be accepting, loving, and supportive of the things that are in his or her nature.