How do you know when you are ready for anything? To have children, buy a home, get a dog, sell it all and sail the world?
I used to think that everyone determined the pros and cons and then made a list, we weighed the options and then made the most prudent decision. It may be like this for some, but for many not so much.
Some of us commit the pending decision to prayer, thought and pondering. For others, life happens to us, we move impulsively, we feel strongly, we“know”it is right.
So when a couple runs into trouble in their relationship, it is a crisis, something has to be done and it needed to happen yesterday.
Yet many times although the need is great, the readiness isn’t where it needs to be.
Here are some criteria to consider when thinking about relationship counseling:
Partners are mutually trying to improve the relationship.
Partners want to undertake therapy for mutual support or help with problem-solving.
Partners with negative past experiences or previous failed relationships want to prevent or solve problems in their current relationship.
Partners want to prevent an accumulation of difficulties and strengthen their bond.
Partners want to thoughtfully attempt to reach an agreement before making the final decision about separation or divorce.
Partners have decided to divorce but mutually want to improve their relationship with improved co-parenting prospects.
~2011 journal article in the Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Notice how cerebral these are, how proactive. How well thought out.
And although they are reasonable in theory, it isn’t what happens when infidelity is discovered, a child dies, a job failure has thrown life upside down, s/he is unhappy, a health crisis has changed one of us.
Therapy to help address issues whether personal or between the couple is worth doing. Our hope is always that folks will make a valiant effort to address personal and interpersonal issues so as to understand and cope better.
Yet if one of the partners is unwilling to attend or not taking responsibility for the difficulties, it is still valuable to seek out help.
Consider the following:
your readiness to change your perspective,
your willingness to gain a greater understanding of you and therefore your partner,
your desire to challenge old beliefs that are interfering with your current life,
your willingness to change patterns that have grown destructive
Relationship counseling can devolve into a blame game where the client wants the therapist to be the judge and jury. That is not the purpose.
One of the reasons the Gottman Method has been so useful and effective is because the focus in on our own personal patterns or habits that are destructive. John and Julie Gottman provide research based recommendations that when followed will improve relationships.
So, yes please seek out help and know that the help you gain will benefit you and ideally your partner.
PS ~don’t wait any longer.