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Three Reasons Couples Counseling Is Bad For Your Marriage

Feb 20, 2018

Three Reasons Couples Counselling Is Bad For Your Marriage

If you’ve reached stalemate but still believe deep down that your partner is your soul-mate, then most likely you would go to anything lengths to resolve the conflict, revive the passion and rekindle the flame.  If you realise that you’ve gone beyond stalemate and neither of you is reaching a fresh perspective then it may seem like coaching is the best option.

And it is!  If you both are 100% committed to the process, you are both approaching it without expectation and with an open mind.

It will help unpick the communication breakdown, create the room to hear each other in a neutral space and will provide tools to improve your overall trust and love, which is fundamental to the success of the marriage.

There are however many situations which either don’t lend themselves to couple’s counselling and if fact may lead to deeper problems in the marriage.

What if however, one party agrees to partake under duress?

What if you are still working on the question “Do I want to stay married.”

What if one or both of you have a secret belief that the counsellor will help convince the other party that you are right.

Under these circumstances, it is surely much more difficult to obtain the best results.

I don’t work with couples, I work with individuals within the union, identifying what they want and how to get it.

Without this level of self-knowledge any attempt to save, change or revive a flagging relationship is an exhausting and usually futile task. I believe strongly that it only takes one party to make the change, but you must understand why it isn’t working, what you brought to the relationship by way of a belief system, behavioural pattern and your personal set of expectations both positive and negative.

Once you take stock on your role in the relationship, and I should stress that this isn’t a way to apportion blame but to create a clear self-understanding which establishes increased self-confidence, self-worth and self-knowledge — lack of which generates problems in traditional couples counselling.
For without this fundamental self-knowledge and more importantly self-acceptance it is easy to fall into the following traps:

1. You can’t change what you don’t understand

What if you are still working on the question “Do I want to stay married.”

Often when there is a problem you go head first to finding a solution without really understanding which result works best for you, your marriage and your partner.

Before you involve your spouse it is so important to know what you are trying to achieve, is the marriage still viable, are you sure you want to stay married and you looking to create the confidence needed to leave? Until you have answered these questions then couples therapy or coaching won’t benefit your marriage

Mostly you’re trying to recreate the old rapport without taking a step back and looking at where it could be improved, where it isn’t working for you and most importantly what do you really want from this relationship and your life.

In this case, you are merely plugging the holes rather than taking the opportunity to re-calibrate your marriage to work for you and your spouse in the present moment.

Remember your power comes from the changes you are prepared to make, the self-evaluation you are prepared to undertake and honesty you are willing to employ.

The biggest problem with any outside intervention, however, is that most people never give up on the idea that “if you could change the person, the behaviour, the situation everything would work out perfectly….

That leads us on to the second reason to seek out individual coaching or counselling.

2. Are both parties 100% committed to the process?

What if however, one party agrees to counsel under duress?

Unless both parties are 100 % committed to the process there will uncertainty, hesitancy to open up and possibly even a level of mistrust.

I wonder how many times you have been truly open and honest about your feelings whilst feeling pressurised to take action, or when you are not 100% open to a process or experience.

Human nature is to close in and protect ourselves and unless both parties approach couples counselling or coaching with open hearts and open minds no successful conclusion can be reached.

Let's say your partner reluctantly agrees to go to counselling, seeing intervention as “failure”, but you manage to persuade him them, he isn’t convinced it is a great idea, they already feel constrained by you and really don’t know how to make you happy. There is a strong possibility that they view the process with mistrust, maybe going as far as feeling that their spouse and the counsellor are ganging up.

If this is the case your partner will only hear what they believe they will hear!

They are listening to prove himself right, what happens then is his wife Jane is upset because he isn’t willing to open up and makes an assumption that Jo has checked out of the marriage, the marriage is dead and counselling/coaching doesn’t work.

Or both of you secretly believe that the coach will help you convince your spouse that you are right.

No matter how good your mentor or coach this isn’t her role and no matter how objective they are — he will only hear what he believes he will hear. He is listening to prove himself right, what happens then is his wife Jane is upset because he isn’t willing to open up and makes an assumption that Jo has checked out of the marriage, the marriage is dead and counselling doesn’t work.

Here is a pretty typical scenario, the relationship sours, communication begins to feel like the cold war negotiations the day before the bay of pigs, every word being thought, rethought and over thought before we dare begin a conversation, no matter how insignificant that exchange is.

The yearning to ensure that we are understood, however more often than not and no matter how great the intention, how many pep talks you’ve given yourself, how many promises that you won’t lose your temper, cry, fake or fall into your usual pattern, there comes a moment, a word, a look that triggers you (or your partner) and off you go again on the familiar merry-go-round.

Each time chipping away a little more hope that your marriage can be revived and you can rekindle that honeymoon feeling.

If you are committed to your marriage, at some point you begin to feel that nothing will change and begin to look outside for solutions and where better than a marriage counsellor.

You sense this to be your only hope, you suggest it to your partner, he isn’t keen. You assume this is more proof that he isn’t invested in your marriage or doesn’t love you anymore.

If you are at this stage — stop for a moment and ask yourself –

Am I listening, really listening to his objections or fears?


Am I listening to counter argue what I would like to happen?

You have your story and you are 100% invested in it, it’s your driving force, but remember so does your partner and his story is aimed at protecting his heart too, I know how easy it is to forget that he isn’t the enemy.

3. You can’t change people, places or situations — not even with the help of a marriage counsellor.

What if one or both of you have a secret belief that the counsellor will help convince the other party that you are right.

If you have an idea that your counsellor or coach is somehow going to get through to your partner where you have failed — then couples counselling won’t work for you.

That isn’t the scope.

And…. If you are harbouring these thoughts then you can be pretty sure they have crossed your partner’s mind too.

The process isn’t about understanding who is right or wrong.

It is about taking a different stance, you know what your partner's faults are, hell you’ve been telling them for years.

You’re living the marriage with all its complications.

Now it is time to look at another part of the puzzle and no — not to allocate blame, not to self-flagellate — but to get a good honest overview and change what is in your power to change.

The stories in your mind, the beliefs you hang onto, the fears and the communication style which has grown of those fears.

This is about understanding your part in the relationship, what you brought to the table and what you can change. In other words what is within your power and what isn’t.

The stories you grew up with, the experiences you’ve had and the deep-seated beliefs you have about marriage/committed long-term relationship are.

How they affect your thinking and your behaviour?

Where don’t they serve you, where they are causing discord and disconnection with your partner?

This is where you have control, you can change that and paradoxically that is where you help your partner to change.

Are you are still trying to change people and situations to make you happy rather than taking empowered action and taking responsibility for your own happiness and your part in the relationship.


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