There's nothing worse than being forced to do something you don't want to do ... unless you also have to pay for it. Frequently, partners or spouses get dragged into counseling when they'd rather be almost anywhere else. (Prefer this article as a podcast? Click here.) The thought of talking to a stranger about feelings and intimacy appeals greatly to some, disgusts others and terrifies many.
Some people — especially men — believe that counseling couldn't be a bigger waste of time, or that counseling is for crazy people, or that a counselor couldn't possibly understand their situation or give them any worthwhile assistance. Some men also fear that in counseling, they'll be ganged up on, tricked or manipulated into some pansy, emotion-sharing activity or berated for simply being themselves.
If you're one of these guys or a lady who is thinking of dragging a guy to counseling, let me give you some questions to ponder before you schedule that first appointment:
- What do I really want to get out of counseling? Am I coming to get fixed, fix someone else, complain about the situation, appease my partner, or have an excuse to break up? Or, am I going to make a good-faith effort to to understand our issues, improve our relationship and support my partner in the same? Guys, sit down with your partner and discuss what she really wants to get out of dragging you to counseling and then ask yourself if you can get on the same page with them.
- How long am I willing to try counseling with this counselor before I consider other options?
- Am I ready to be candid and open with my partner? (It's actually pretty easy to be candid and open with the counselor. After all, we don't go home with you).
- Can I tolerate the situation getting worse before it gets better? It usually does.
If you're a guy being threatened with counseling, do yourself a favor and consider these questions before deciding to attend. Think about them. Reflect. Then discuss them with your partner. If you decide to participate in counseling, you'll start on a much better foot.
There's nothing really mystical or mysterious about counseling. It's simply a private, very intentional and focused conversation about you and your relationship. If you are having the conversations at home (which I recommend), you're both working very hard to understand and support each other through the struggles and you're tapping into friends and family for support, then you probably wouldn't need counseling. If you're not getting that on your own, then counseling is the place to start that conversation. It's not mystical but it can be meaningful and healing.
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