Heartbreak

8 Impactful Ways To Get The Most Out Of Couples Therapy (& Maybe Save Your Relationship)

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There’s an old saying: It takes two to tango.

What’s missing from this old saying is that it also takes two to repair a relationship. 

Often, people seek help and couples counseling in their final hour of desperation, when they are on the brink of divorce. When this is the case, more often than not, one person wants to save the marriage and the other is nine-and-one-half toes out the door. 

Will couples counseling help? It certainly can. Preparing to get the most out of couples therapy is one way to stack the odds in favor of saving your marriage.

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Most couples start couples therapy about seven years after they probably needed to.

Does this mean breaking up is inevitable? No, but repair and reconciliation will be a challenge, especially if only one person genuinely wants it and the other feels hopeless about things getting better.

Nonetheless, if your partner agrees to go to couples counseling, even if it’s only to feel like they’ve done their best before they exit, there is hope.

In couples therapy, the goal is to understand the “fight” couples have. Hence the saying it takes two to tango.

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Here are eight steps to help you get the most out of couples therapy

1. Know your beginning or introductory steps.

Problems in the relationship start early on, often before people fully commit to one another. Reflect on how you met, what drew you to this person, and what hesitancies you may have had but never resolved.

2. Be willing to track your cycle of the fight.

Identify and acknowledge your wrongs rather than your partner’s.

People are experts at predicting what their partner is going to say or do, but less inclined to look inward and examine their own contribution and reactions

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3. Be willing to hear the other’s concerns with an open heart and open mind.

Be open to listen, even if you don’t fully agree with their narrative. What most people want is acknowledgment. In other words, they want their partner to get their pain rather than proving why they're 100% right.

4. Be willing to show that you care how your end of the fight contributed to the breakdown.

Skipping over your part of the disagreement doesn’t help the other person to feel confident that you get their pain.

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5. Be courageous enough to state what isn’t your fault in an assertive, not defensive way. 

So often people are blamed for not always being tuned in or knowing what the other person wants.  When this happens to be the case, you can calmly say “ I hear what you are saying, but I’m having a

hard time aligning with you on this and I would like you to try to see things from my perspective.  Are you willing to do that?

6. Be courageous enough to share your own vulnerabilities.

When another person sees your softer side and feels confident that you are seeing theirs, they may shift from being nine toes out the door to one foot in.

Remain open enough to share your insecurities, anxious thoughts, and the ways you overcompensate for your shortcomings.

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7. Keep your dialogue in the "I".

This goes back to number one. Correcting your partner when they're expressing the issues is not sharing your vulnerabilities.

It’s actually judging the other person.  

Instead, say something that lets your partner know when they do certain things, your experience in based upon what has happened.

Ask if your partner is able to shift what they do. Then listen to why or why it isn’t possible.

8. Know that just because someone doesn’t do what you want doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

If your partner rarely ever yields or offers a compromise, their capacity for loving you is pretty limited.

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Maura Matarese, is a licensed psychotherapist and author. In her book Finding Hope In The Crisis: A Therapist's Perspective On Love, Loss, And Courage she helps people find happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationships. 

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