Do you ever wonder or even despair at your relationship? Perhaps there have been underlying problems for a while. Perhaps there has been an incident, such as infidelity, that threatens the relationship. Perhaps you feel that you have grown apart. The reasons are many and varied, but they all have one thing in common; unhappy partners who often feel disrespected, alone or even trapped.
It is at this point that many will turn to services such as counselling to seek out a couple’s or relationship counsellor to ‘fix’ their relationship. Yet, can we say that relationship counselling will deliver this goal? Like so many answers today the answer is: “it depends”. While counselling is very effective at repairing the most broken of relationships, there are some fundamental problems that might make repair impossible.
Is it possible to salvage the relationship? One of the partners may have decided that, no matter what, they want out; that they don’t wish to repair the relationship and that counselling is unlikely to help. So, you need to check that your partner feels the same way and wants to save the relationship. Change is going to be required to make a difference to save the relationship, and however badly you believe your partner’s faults to be the issue, some of that change is likely to fall to both partners in the relationship. Indeed, you both need to ask yourselves if you have the capacity to change, because it may require major changes e.g. giving up alcohol.
Couples often leave problems until they are at a point where the relationship is on the critical list. They may not come for counselling until one or the other is on the point of leaving or demanding a divorce. Often this will make the task very much harder because of the history of what has been said; the insults and accusations that have been hurled at one another. There can be little doubt that the sooner couples with problems come to counselling the better.
Typically people will have spent time talking about problems, going round in circles and seeing little or no improvement. Often partners feel that they are not valued or respected, perhaps even ignored. Perhaps every time you talk it turns into a blazing row, or that there are ‘taboo’ subjects in your house. All of these are signs that counselling may help.
Can counselling save a marriage? It can help, but the partners in the relationship have to want it to succeed, and they have to be prepared to be honest with each other and be open to change.