Relationship Counseling: How to jump in when you’re ready and they’re not.

In an ideal world when there is strife in a marriage both partners will recognize the need to make some changes and be ready and willing to do that. Unfortunately this is not always (or often) the case.  You and your partner may both recognize there is a problem, however you may be on your own when it comes to seeking help.  Or you may be the only one who feels a change is needed. Either way you are on your own when it comes to relationship counseling. So where do you turn?

On your own when it comes to seeking relationship counseling?
On your own when it comes to seeking relationship counseling? Photo by Allesandro Valli

Finding the right relationship counseling is critical when you are flying solo. Here are some ideas for where to begin…

What kind of counseling or relationship help are you willing to do?

Is going to therapy an option? Would going to individual therapy do more harm that good? In this article Dr. Heitler shares some potential downfalls of individual therapy, including the potential that “fostering asymmetry of growth from treating just one spouse, can lead to the toppling of a marriage.”  If you do want to pursue the therapy route make sure you find the right therapist and speak openly about your concerns around working on your marriage as well as any issues you are facing personally.

Online relationship help can be as simple as reading articles and relationship focused blogs (like this one!).  The downfall, of course, is that anyone can put anything they want on the world wide web, looking for reputable authors is important.  Popular websites like Psychology Today, Huffington Post and YourTango post articles from top therapists in the field and can be a good place to begin.

When you are ready for a little deeper level of help it may be time to look for a relationship skill programs like Power of Two. A program like this is a wonderful alternative to traditional relationship counseling.  You learn a whole host of skills and with the help of a coach you can gain understanding about how to implement the skills in your relationship. The other great benefit is that you can do the program alone and you can make changes on your own that will turn the tides in your marriage.  In addition, your partner might be opposed to help in the form of marriage counseling but may be open to a more private and self driven approach.

One final option is to hit the books, so to speak.  There is no shortage of relationship focused self-help books. As with the other two avenues the content matters significantly.  It will likely take some research to find the right approach for you.  Thankfully, a lot of books like this can be found in libraries so you can get a taste for the authors approach and offering before you have to break the bank in the self-help section.

The truth is even if your partner isn’t ready for help you can take action to pursue positive changes.  While a “we” mentality can sometimes be good for a marriage, it is not necessary if you feel the need for growth and change. In reality, even if both partners are ready for help, focusing on your own growth is a strategy sure to pay off!