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  • Is Couples’ Therapy not Working for You? Here are Some Reasons Why

    The idea of starting therapy is difficult for even the most confident people. As you can imagine, the idea of starting couples’ therapy, can be even scarier. A competent therapist will have training and experience in couples’ therapy, and will be able to gently point out the patterns that are being observed in how a couple communicates, and how arguments form. A competent therapist will also help instill hope for the couple, and will be realistic when needed, especially when the relationship is starting to move more towards separation. As with any type of therapy, not every couples’ therapist will be the ideal fit. However, even when all these factors are in place, couples’ therapy might still not work for a couple. Here are a few common reasons why we may see cases where couples’ therapy is not helping the relationship or marriage progress:

    1. There are active secrets being kept from you and from the therapist

    One of the main boundaries a couples’ therapist will set from the start is that there is no secret-keeping during sessions. In other words, whatever has to be stated should be stated in front of all parties, or if something is stated privately to the therapist, it cannot be kept a secret from the other partner. This is done both to avoid collusion, and to protect the integrity of the therapeutic process.

    However, this can also become an obstacle when one or both parties in a relationship actively have secrets that they want to keep. These secrets can range from infidelities, to financial issues, to hidden motives regarding the keeping the relationship going. Most of the time these secrets can be brought out as more trust is gained in therapy, however sometimes these secrets remain hidden due to the person’s own insecurities or personal agendas.

    As scary as this sounds, it is important to remember that you will have a gut feeling about the couples’ therapy sessions. Your intuition will tell you if words are matching someone’s actions. You, as an active participant in couples’ therapy, have every right to speak up and voice your concerns during your sessions to allow the therapist to know about your doubts.

    1. The relationship has run its course, but other factors may be keeping you together

    Sometimes you can both put all your sincere effort into making things work, and that is a great thing to strive for! However, sometimes in the process of putting in sincere effort, doing the work, understanding each other, and improving communication, you may realize you no longer want to be with your partner. It is not a matter of discarding the person, but rather of realizing that you respect them as a person, but you no longer have romantic feelings for them.

    Some of the most common factors keeping couples together, even after the relationship has run its course, are children, money, legal issues, and religious/spiritual beliefs. If this is the case, then it is wise to take an honest look at the situation, and openly discuss what the future of the relationship will look like. Some parents live under the same roof while co-parenting, some make agreements to help each other financially, and the list can go on. There is no such thing as a perfect family set-up, and there are many ways to defy traditional norms while maintaining harmony in a household.

    1. One or both parties are navigating more debilitating mental health issues

    “In sickness and in health.” Many people take these vows seriously. However, just like with physical illnesses, mental health issues require attention and treatment. If one or both parties are in active addiction, mood disorders, or have long standing symptoms that affect how they view the world and relationships, then it may be worth looking into a collaborative approach in couples’ therapy. Getting other professionals involved can help to address the mental health issues that are blocking progress in couples’ therapy. Getting more professional intervention can also help the affected individual understand their disorder and how it affects others, while the partner gains more empathy and patience.

    Please keep in mind that if there is abuse, for any reason, then it is widely recognized that a relationship should take distance for emotional and physical safety reasons. Being committed to a relationship is not the same as bearing abuse.