Are you having trouble within your long-term relationship or marriage and your partner isn’t ready or willing to try counselling? You may just decide to go to relationship therapy on your own. Experts say that with one partner willing to seek help, the relationship stands a chance of being salvaged and becoming stronger. So, if you’re thinking your relationship could use some help, there’s no reason not to go alone. In fact, in this article, we uncover 6 reasons to do relationship therapy on your own, if your significant other isn’t ready to come along.
1. One person can make a positive difference to the relationship
Sure, relationship counselling services are designed for couples to sit down together with a therapist and work on their issues. But that’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it if your partner is not ready or willing to take part. For some partners, the thought of seeing a therapist makes them uncomfortable – they’re nervous about talking about their issues, unwilling to admit that there’s a problem, or simply don’t believe that counselling will help. Nothing could be further from the truth. The good news is, you don’t need to try to convince your partner to come to relationship counselling with you, if they’re just not up for it. According to Becky Whetstone, a marriage and family therapist, one person on their own can make a difference, she says:
“Marriage therapists know that if we can get one partner to change their actions and behaviour in a more positive and functional way, it will affect the rest of the family machine positively at the same time,” she said. “At the very least, the move will shake up the family, forcing them to change a bit.”
2. You can be open without having to censor yourself
One of the major hurdles in couples seeking out therapy is the fear of talking about their issues out loud and airing grievances. There is fear of hurting your spouse, fear of admitting the things you’ve been feeling, the fear of being invalidated by your partner or the therapist, and in some cases, even fear of retribution, bitterness, or anger from your partner. Going to relationship counselling alone means not having to feel the need to censor your feelings about the relationship or your partner and having more room to express yourself freely. Of course, a good therapist will never invalidate you, and will help both you and your partner to feel comfortable opening up. But, if you’re facing relationship counselling alone, being free to say what you want without censoring yourself is one of the little-known perks. Melbourne psychologist and family therapist, Debra Campbell says:
“Seeing a partner privately gives the therapist a chance to better understand where the person is struggling most in the relationship, without them censoring themselves to protect the other,” she told HuffPost. “The therapist can pinpoint how to help the spouse interpret misunderstandings and identify where they’re most at odds.”
3. You can develop strategies for broaching tough subjects
If you’re not quite sure how to bring up difficult subjects with your partner, going alone to relationship therapy can be really helpful. Your counsellor can help you work on ways to broach these subjects with your partner to avoid hurting their feelings, making them feel attacked, or blindsiding them. As relationship therapists know, there are good and bad ways to bring up issues within a marriage or long-term relationship. They can share their wisdom with you, so that you can hope for the best reaction to your discussions with your partner. After all, effective communication is key to any relationship.
4. Work on yourself as well as your relationship
If going to relationship therapy alone, you’re effectively seeing a counsellor as you would for any other concern – they are there to help you uncover problems you have and the reasons behind them, and help you to overcome whatever is troubling you. Although you’re there to work on your relationship, your counsellor can also help you to:
- Develop better communication for all of your relationships
- Improve your self-esteem and self-worth
- Understand what a healthy relationship looks like
- Set boundaries and stick with them
- Stand up for yourself, what you need, and what you won’t put up with
- And lots, lots more.
Even though you’re seeking out therapy to work on your relationship, the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. A happy side-effect of seeing a counsellor on your own is that you can work on you, what you need, and what you can do to make yourself a happier, healthier person.
5. Your partner may begin to see the value in relationship therapy
Seeing you committed to changing the relationship for the better and coming home with new and more effective communication strategies may help your partner to realise the true value of relationship therapy. They may even decide that it’s worth them coming along. Whetstone says,
“When you’re in therapy alone, you can really look at the issues that you bring to the relationship,” she said to Huffpost. “It’s an opportunity to heal old wounds so that you can show up as a more engaged and loving spouse. And if your partner sees you make changes, they may be more willing to go with you.”
6. You can rest easier knowing you’ve done your best
The simple – but often hard to accept – fact is that relationship therapy is not a cure-all for a marriage. There’s no guarantee, even when going with your partner, that it will save your relationship. You may even find out in the process of counselling that this relationship isn’t the right one for either of you. However, no matter what you discover during counselling and in working on your relationship with your partner using the new things you’ve learned, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have done everything you can do to make things better. If the relationship does end in divorce or splitting up, you, your partner, and family who are affected by the separation will also know that it wasn’t without trying – and that can make an enormous difference both for you and them.
At Integrated Health Specialists, we offer both individual and couples therapy for relationship counselling. Find out more about our relationship counselling services on the Gold Coast, or get in touch with us to book an appointment today.