"What should I do if my partner won't go to counseling?"
I often hear this from my clients. What are they really saying with this question?
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Generally, they are saying something like:
"My unhappiness is coming from my partner's behavior," or "The problems in our relationship are my partners' fault," or "My partner needs to change for me to be okay."
As long as you believe any of these statements, then you will be focused on your partner's issues rather than on your own issues. In fact, focusing on your partner's behavior rather than on your own is a way of avoiding responsibility for your own feelings and needs.
So, if you are having relationship problems or you are feeling unhappy in the relationship and your partner won't go to counseling, then you go!
In counseling, you need to focus on your own thoughts and actions that are causing your unhappy feelings, rather on what your partner is doing. You need to be exploring the following questions:
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How are you treating yourself that is causing you to feel unhappy?
How are you responding to your partner's behavior that is making you unhappy?
Are you being reactive to your partner's unloving behavior with your own unloving behavior, and then blaming your partner for your reactions?
Do you have expectations of how your partner should be if he or she really loves you, and then you feel disappointed because your expectations are not met? Do you need to reevaluate your expectation of your partner, which may be unrealistic?
Are you being realistic about who your partner is? Are you expecting your partner to be someone he or she is not or doesn't want to be?
Are you making your wellbeing dependent upon your partner?
- Are you taking responsibility for yourself, or are you abandoning yourself in some way?
These are just some of the questions you might want to explore in your therapy.
One partner making a major change in a relationship can change the entire relationship. If you learn to take responsibility for your own feelings and needs, and make the changes you need to make yourself happy, then you will see whether or not you have a viable relationship. You might be surprised to find that, when you are happy within yourself and no longer have your eyes on your partner, he or she also changes. If, in response to your happiness, your partner gets more angry or distant, you might need to consider that your partner does not have your highest good at heart. At this point you would either need to accept things as they are, or leave the relationship.