How Relationship Counseling Can Help You Decide
This is a common question asked by couples. Sometimes it's whispered quietly inside the head of one partner, sometimes it's the presenting problem that brings people in the door for Couples Counseling.
Maybe you are constantly fighting without understanding one another, or you feel disconnected and lonely. A bigger issue - maybe an affair has happened and you are trying to figure out whether to stay or go.
Unfortunately, this question does not have an easy answer. When deciding whether to work on the relationship or to end it, there are a few common mistakes that couples often make.
1. Leaving the relationship before understanding the nature of the problem and your part in it. Without figuring this out, you are often doomed to repeat the same patterns and behaviors with a new partner.
2. Believing you're just not right for each other. The truth is that all relationships require work and you may be exchanging one set of issues for another one.
3. Thinking that if there was a solution, you're smart enough to have figured it out. Yes, you are smart but we all have blind spots, especially if we are on the inside of the relationship and overcome with emotions and caught up in our own personal histories.
Should We Work On It or Not?
Even if there are no misconceptions, sometimes the cycle of negativity is too painful and feels impossible to change. Couples Counseling can help stop the cycle and introduce empathy and understanding. You can learn how to communicate with respect and kindness.
For other couples, the pain and unhappiness has gone on so long that the energy and motivation for working on the relationship is gone. There are times when ending the relationship may be the best choice and then you are faced with doing this as amicably as possible and avoiding additional harm. Co-Parenting Counseling addresses this situation when children are involved.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1. What are the main challenges that we face in the relationship? What is missing, what hurts most? Be specific.
2. If there is a way to overcome these obstacles, do I want to pursue it? If things were better, would I be happy staying?
3. Is the pattern that I have with my partner familiar to me? It's possible I am repeating behaviors that are common to my other relationships - past and present. In this case I would benefit from working on this pattern now to see if the changes make a difference.
4. What can I do to make this a better relationship? Am I willing to do that? Both partners need to commit to making changes but often all it takes is one person to start for things to improve.
5. In good moments between us, how much love and affection do I feel towards my partner? During hard times we often feel that everything is bad all the time.
6. What is the cost of leaving? If you've been together a long time, if you have children - these are factors to consider when thinking about investing time (and money) to make things better.
When we are under stress and feeling challenged in our relationship, it can be hard to answer these questions. A marriage therapist can help you and your partner get clarity so that you can determine your best course of action. Another option is to come for Individual Counseling to work on discovering your own answers.
It's important to believe that you, and your partner, are free to decide whether to stay and work on your relationship or work on ending it.