“Do we need couples therapy?”
That’s the question we started to address in Part One of this two-part series. If you haven’t read that yet, by all means give it a look.
To sum it up, what did we learn in the first “session?”
You should seriously consider going to couple’s therapy if:
- One of you is having an affair (or both are)
- You’re constantly fighting
- You are at loggerheads and want different things
- The spark is gone
We also covered a reason not to go – at least not yet: You just had a fight. One fight won’t break your relationship. If it’s a series of arguments and ongoing stress, well, that’s a different story.
Let’s delve further into four more reasons why couples counselling in Ottawa would be a good idea.
“We barely even talk anymore!”
Is your relationship stalled, seemingly going nowhere, to the point where you don’t even talk anymore?
If so, this is a bad sign. In fact, it’s a potentially more serious situation than if all you did was fight. Couples who constantly bicker and argue are at least engaged in a dialogue. That would mean that, on some level(s), they care.
NOT talking, on the other hand, may very well have a lot to say about the underlying problems in your relationship.
If you’ve got nothing left to say, you may feel like it’s all over but the paperwork. Maybe. But give yourself some credit and faith. You’ve come this far, after all. Something brought the two of you together… once upon a time (even if that feels like it was a different lifetime).
What are some possible reasons why you’re not talking?
- One or both partners is going through other stress or trauma in his or her life
- Both partners are focused on child rearing, work and other life issues – and have somehow stopped paying attention to each other
- One of the partners has a physical illness (which they may or may not have disclosed)
- One or both of the partners is going through other mental/emotional health issues (depression, anxiety, etc.)
- One or both of the partners is having an extramarital affair (more of a symptom in and of itself than a reason, but it’s all intertwined)
- Both partners have become fearful of talking to the other, since everything became negative and/or stressful somewhere along the way
Again, something once brought you together. Aren’t these possibilities worth exploring? Whether you have children and want to do what’s right for them, or it’s just the two of you, your relationship is worth making the attempt to save. Counselling can help.
A trained couple’s therapist or marriage counsellor will work with both of you, getting each of you to engage in dialogue through a series of exercises and conversations.
Do we guarantee success? No, of course not, nobody can. But our commitment to you is to listen, to create a safe environment, and to foster a spirit of open communication between you and your partner. If nothing else, you’ll know that you tried your best to repair your marriage, relationship or partnership. And if it works, you could experience years if not a lifetime of better communication and a healthier relationship.
“We live in the same house – and nothing more.”
Do you no longer sleep in the same bed? Are you living in different rooms, even different parts of the house? While it’s not ideal, it’s not the worst thing in the world, either.
Some couples drift apart over the years. That can be salvaged (see above).
Others have valid reasons for not sleeping in the same bed or room, most notably if the other person snores loudly, if you have different schedules, or if one of you is more sensitive to light, noise, temperature, etc.
For couples who’ve created separate living spaces under the same roof and want more intimacy, we can help! Through a series of sessions (assuredly a finite number), we can find ways for you to accommodate each other’s living situation needs and still maintain a sense of closeness.
“It just seems like everything is negative!”
This covers a full range from “always fighting” to “afraid to talk.” Have you reached a point in your relationship where it seems like nothing positive happens, like nothing you do or say makes it any better?
In the absence of fighting or talking, often times there can be a negative atmosphere which includes passive-aggressive gestures, heavy sighing, glares that seem to throw daggers from the eyes, etc.
And when couples do nothing but fight, it can get really bad – really, really negative. Sometimes things devolve to the point of verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse.
In the case of physical abuse, this cannot continue for one minute longer, not in any way, shape or form. If there’s domestic violence, always remember that you have options. Call the national domestic violence crisis hotline, tell a friend, report it to the authorities. Get out or get help quickly!
If things are negative but not life-threatening, you can help yourself – and your relationship – by seeking marital counselling or relationship therapy. While an overnight turnaround from negative to positive isn’t likely, with effort and understanding you can achieve a better balance over time.
“I’m fine. He/she needs to change!”
Are you doing just peachy in life, but have a partner who’s totally to blame for the woes in your relationship?
We rarely if ever see situations where this is truly the case.
Most often, there is a shared responsibility in relationships, somewhere from 50-50 to 60%-40%, not much more extreme than that. Not to say that the occasional case doesn’t come along where one person is clearly more the culprit, but it’s much the exception and not at all the rule.
This brings us to the axiom about making other people change. You can’t.
No matter how much you want someone to change;
No matter how much you believe that other person to be at fault;
And no matter how much you’re convinced that THEY need to change…
… the ONLY person that you can change is YOURSELF.
If you have a partner who won’t come to therapy, you still have the option to come. We can help, with couples’ counselling in Ottawa.
If your partner refuses to change, you can’t make them. But you can talk to them, work with them to get them to see how you feel. We can help.
If you’re lucky, you have a partner who’s willing to change, who’s committed to change. Then you need to be committed to change as well. That’s the best prescription for positive change in the relationship.
In the absence of that, however, you can always change. How that goes, what that change looks like, in the end is up to you.
“Okay, so when DON’T we need couple therapy?”
In Part One we said that having a fight – one, isolated fight – isn’t the end of the world. But there are other signs you may not need therapy.
“We have a healthy relationship.”
This isn’t to say that you never fight, never feel sad or alone, never feel angry at the other person. But if you’re in a loving relationship that’s sustained years of marital bliss, you’ll probably be able to weather the occasional storm. If there’s stress over money or health, for example, or disagreement about decisions involving the children, that alone doesn’t warrant therapy. There are plenty of situations you can get through on your own, provided you maintain open channels of communication; have intimacy as a core part of your relationship; keep a healthy respect for one another; and don’t fell a constant dread or sense of negativity in the relationship.
“My Partner doesn’t want to go to couple therapy!”
Okay, this is kind of a hybrid situation. It’s not necessarily a reason not to go to couple’s therapy. But, realistically, if your partner refuses to go, you have two options:
- You go on your own (in which case, it won’t be a couple’s counselling session but rather an individual session with a focus on your relationship)
- You don’t go.
This goes back to the idea that you can’t force someone else to change; they have to want to. Therapy might help you, but it probably won’t help the person who truly doesn’t want to change or outright rejects it.
“What Can Capital Choice Counselling in Ottawa Do to Help Us?”
If your relationship can benefit from counselling, we’re here to help. We’ve helped thousands of couples in Ottawa and around the National Capital region for many years. Get in touch with us today, and find out how Capital Choice Counselling in Ottawa can help your marriage or relationship. It’s not too late.
This is Part 2 of 2 in a series on Couple Counselling.