You may have wondered if you can benefit from relationship counseling if you can’t actually DO couples counseling with your partner. The answer to this is yes! There are several benefits to participating in counseling as an individual for issues related to your relationship.
Two Halves Do NOT Make a Whole
When it comes to relationships, you may have heard the old adage, “two halves make a whole.” Not only is this an unhelpful adage, but it is also simply untrue! You are already a whole person as a single individual. When you enter into a relationship with another, you remain a whole person and unite with another whole person. Being a whole person means that you (and they) bring a host of attributes, traits, knowledge, and baggage into your relationship.
It also means that there is a significant amount that you can do individually to impact your relationship positively. For example, when you learn how to emotionally regulate, you can more effectively process your thoughts and be responsive rather than reactive to your partner. Or, if you develop and practice communication tools, you can have healthier and more productive conversations with your significant other.
In each of your relationships, you cannot control what the other person (such as your partner) will do, but you CAN control what you do. Although you cannot control your partner’s decisions or behavior, the way you behave, and the choices you make can impact how your partner interacts with and experiences you. In turn, the choices you make can positively influence the way your partner responds to you and the dynamics of your relationship.
What if the Issues in Our Relationship Are (or Are Not) MY Issues?
Another common misconception is that there are “my issues” and “their issues.” This idea can especially be prevalent when there are struggles pertaining to sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction or vaginal pain. It is crucial to note that all of your relationship issues are “OUR issues.” This perspective means that you have a role in improving your relationship no matter the root cause of an issue or relational concerns. A relationship requires both people to put forth an effort to help the partnership succeed.
What if My Partner Can’t or Won’t Come to Counseling?
Having a significant other who won’t come to counseling is actually a fairly common occurrence. Sometimes couples counseling is not doable for scheduling or childcare purposes. Or, in many cases, one partner is not on board with going to counseling. If you are the partner who wants to go to counseling and would like your partner to join you, you likely experienced a mental or an emotional “turning point” when you became ready to go to counseling. It is helpful to keep in mind that your partner may have yet to experience their “turning point.”
Recall that, as two whole people, you have different needs, wants, processes, and levels of readiness. Differing readiness levels can be particularly apparent in such a vulnerable and courageous endeavor as entering into counseling. Attempting to “convince” or otherwise coerce your partner into coming to counseling will most likely backfire if they are not truly ready to seek counseling. You can, however, share with them your experiences and reasons for pursuing counseling yourself. Additionally, you can offer them support as they explore their own decision.
Suppose you and/or your partner would like to ask questions or get a feel for what to expect in counseling—the counselors at Get Centered offer complimentary 15-minute phone consultations before scheduling. The decision to begin counseling as an individual or as a couple (or both!) is an important one, and we at Get Centered are here to support you. If you are considering counseling services, please reach out to us. We can guide you in taking the first steps of your journey towards mental wellness, centeredness, and relationship satisfaction.