It is normal for clients to begin therapy with the goal of changing their partners. You may think “if only she would stop doing ____” or “if only he would start doing ____ then everything would be fine.” This dream never works. You are in control of only one person: yourself. When you want to have a better partner, you need to be a better partner, one that doesn’t ask your partner to lose.
It is important to remember you can’t change your partner, and your partner can’t change you. Marital therapy can assist in the awareness that your partner can influence you, and you can influence them, yet who you are as individuals is inherent and unique to each person. Learn how to be a more effective partner to enhance the sexuality in your relationship.
What are your habits in relationship? Can you get out of reaction? In individual and couples counseling, you can learn from the past, how you’ve reacted, and learn how to respond differently, more effectively with your partner. One way is by asking yourself to adapt to changing conditions. This effective change requires insight and action. When you react without insight, one can be thoughtless. When you have insight but don’t act on it, one can become passive.
One of the roadblocks to good marriage counseling is accepting you will need to improve your response to situations (how you think about it, feel about it, and what to do about it). It’s so much easier to believe that your partner is the one who needs to improve. Watch out for this trap. Remember it’s easier to be thoughtful and caring when everything’s going well in the relationship. But when the road gets rocky, and your partner is whining that it’s your fault for the mess your both in, that’s when your response will be tested.
The key: Communication.
Check out if you have flawed assumptions regarding your partner’s motives, or if he/she has incorrect assumptions about yours. Then remember these important qualities for effective communication: respect, openness, and sticking to it. Don’t be afraid to let your partner know what you are concerned about without making them bad or wrong. They won’t appreciate you as much if they don’t understand, and they can’t read your mind. When you approach individual or couples counseling, to create a win-win solution, be ready to let go of positions that have caused your partner to lose in the past.
adapted from “How To Get The Most From Couples Therapy” by Ellen Bader, Ph.D. and Peter Pearson, Ph.D. http://www.couplesinstitute.com/