But when – as sometimes happens – that initial honeymoon period turns into the realisation that both of you are living with a partner who displays the type of traits and emotions which you find hard to accept, it can be helpful to get professional help.
The decision to seek couples therapy can be a momentous time in saving a difficult relationship – but it’s often just the one partner who reaches that decision. Many inquiries come to nothing after an initial approach or first appointments are cancelled just because when the idea of couples therapy is raised at home, one half of the equation doesn’t see its usefulness.
But there’s no need to pull the pin on couples therapy straight away – it’s perfectly possible (indeed, actively beneficial) for couples to start therapy on their own or for one partner to start before the other.
There are plenty of issues which come to the fore in a relationship – trust, anger, addictions, sex and intimacy, kindness and expectations, for example – which reflect equally on both partners.
When this happens, it can be good for each partner to reflect on their own personality traits and drivers before embarking on couples therapy.
Specific issues which work well when individuals start therapy alone include:
- A lack of desire on behalf of either partner can reflect or cause distance in a relationship and it’s worth talking through how this cycle started to see what needs to change.
- Whether it’s alcohol, drugs or pornography, it tends to be the partner who is not addicted who gets in touch because their efforts to broach the subject are being met with resistance; triggering anger, resentment and more addictive behaviour; or turning into a form of addictive behaviour itself. It can be useful to deal with this in an individual consultation before couples therapy.
- Anxiety and depression. Our choice of partner often reflects our experiences in good ways and bad, which means that a relationship which is foundering because one partner displays anxiety or depression may well be repeating triggers from childhood. A partner who wants to work through their depression or anxiety may well pinpoint triggers, reasons for actions and behaviours within the relationship without the need to replay the relationship in couples therapy.
- When someone contacts a therapist because of their partner’s behaviour, they are often under extreme stress. By seeking therapy on their own, they are able to find a new solution or view of their relationship which might just break the cycle of resentment. After all, by changing just partner, the entire relationship is affected.
- Behaviour cycles. Relationships are incredibly complicated affairs in which all manner of triggers and reactions can form a confusing downward cycle which neither partner is able to get an understanding of. But working with a councillor one-on-one can reveal an individual behaviour, personal emotion or reaction which has the potential to break that cycle. Individual realisations around intimacy, vulnerability, patience and shame have the ability to break destructive behaviour cycles.
If you want to find out more about couples therapy at Robert Street Clinic or contact our couples therapy specialist psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 09 973 5950, or contact us via the website.