When a faucet is leaking we recognize we have a problem and we usually fix it promptly. The drip, drip, drip can be annoying. But when something goes wrong in a relationship, we wait so long before trying to fix it – statistically, on average six years for married couples. Why is that? Why do we wait until our relationship becomes so disturbing and dysfunctional that it reaches a breaking point before going to counseling?
Faulty or negative thinking and emotions may be the reason. Are any of these thoughts causing you to avoid getting relationship help?:
- The problem will go away on its own.
- Denying that you see any problems.
- Not paying attention to the warning signs.
- Fear of facing negative emotions.
- Guilt or embarrassment talking about it. (What if it’s my fault?!)
- Fear that talking about problems will open up Pandora’s box and destroy the relationship.
- Making excuses. (I’m too busy to go to counseling sessions.)
- Convincing yourself that counseling doesn’t work.
- You had a bad experience in counseling or a friend told you about their bad experience.
- People you know who sought counseling later got divorced so you think this will happen in your case
Not Getting Help Can Hurt You
Are you gung-ho about going to counseling but your mate is pushing back or vice versa? You or your partner may have suggested counseling many times over the years but the other partner resisted or thought it wasn’t necessary. Now that you’re in counseling it may be because the partner who pushed for it years ago has had enough and is ready to leave.
Partners in a relationship not only need to feel love toward one another, they need to be committed to maintaining the relationship. Counseling is a way couples can work to preserve their relationships.
If you fear what will happen if you seek counseling, keep in mind that relationship counseling will never hurt you; it will only help. On the other hand, not seeking counseling can hurt you. Only about one- fourth of divorcing couples report seeking professional help of any kind to improve their relationship.
Couples typically wait years to get counseling, even after years of noticing that things are not right. Meanwhile, the problem – if addressed early – could have been solved, avoiding an ingrained behavior pattern that can become harder to break as years go by.
Couples counselors can often get to the root of a problem and help a couple solve it much faster and with less emotional upheaval than a do-it-yourself approach or Googling for answers online. In counseling they receive trained guidance to solve sensitive and stubborn issues.
A relationship therapist guides couples through their specific problems in a way that works for them best. It’s up to you to take the first step. Search for a counselor. Ask questions about the process, and begin work early-on with a counselor that feels right to you both.