The answer is “it depends.” It depends on if your partner is working too, and if the two of you want to make the relationship work. If both of you work on:
- the relationship
- changing yourself
- learning about your partner
Then partners in couples therapy make great strides. When one sees the other:
- working on changing
- doing some aspect of the relationship better
It is gratifying and motivating. When one remembers their new role or way of being, arguments change and often move to resolution instead of into endless escalation. When both are working and changing, then the couple “flies,” that is, progresses very quickly and enjoys the relationship more again.
Couples Therapy Results
If you are working and your partner is not
If you are working on the relationship and changing yourself for the better, that is the healthy path, no matter what your partner does. It also sets up the situation such that your partner needs to start “partnering” (working, changing, acknowledging your changing) or it becomes clear that something is wrong. When you are the only one working on the relationship and you are the only one changing in relationship, things move to an imbalance, it doesn’t feel right, something else besides “we fight all the time” comes to the fore: one of the partners may not be willing to work on the relationship any more, and it may be the beginning of the end. It can be that some thought, memory, or emotion is in the way and will have to be worked on for the non-involved partner. But often only one party working on the relationship points to the other (non-working on it) partner as the cause of stagnation or heading towards an ending to the relationship.
Not working, provoking problems, contributing to problems
If you are not working on the relationship and/or are not willing to change yourself, you may want to look at the fact that you are destroying the relationship. You might have good reasons for your position, but you will need to bring out those reasons in couples therapy or with your spouse, or you will be leading to negative outcomes. Holding onto emotional anger is usually very destructive in any partnership. If you think your partner has to do all the changing, you are wrong. You might be right about some key changes that need to be made by your partner, but you are part of the relationship and if your partner has been doing something wrong or badly, it is essential that you look for your role in that. Are you provoking it in any way? Are you contributing in any way? Not working on the relationship (and being passive), provoking your partner (whether you know you are doing that or not), and contributing to the problems but not taking responsibility for your role are all ways of destroying relationship.
Just don’t want to work
If you just don’t want to work on the relationship, that is a choice, but it is important that you realize that is a problem, you are the problem in that way, you are causing stagnation if not decay and destruction of the relationship.
My partner has the problem
Your partner may have problems that need to be worked on. But it is a relationship and there are always two sides, and if either side is not working on changing to make things better, they are headed for stagnation or decay.
Both not working
When both are not working on the relationship, that usually comes out rather quickly in couples therapy. It will be important for both of the partners to look inward for what each are doing that is a problem. If each does not do that, stagnation or decline almost always are the only paths.
Do your own work and make things better for your partner to change. Growth happens when you do your work, no matter what your partner does. Your best chance of making the relationship better is for you to change in healthy ways.
Couples Omaha – Dr. Robert G. Kraft – Licensed Psychologist in Omaha, NE
Dr. Robert G. Kraft is a career psychologist in Omaha, NE. He earned his doctorate, as well as his bachelors and masters before that, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and has practiced in Nebraska ever since.
As well as maintaining his practice, Dr. Kraft is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Creighton University School of Medicine, where he teaches residents about psychotherapy.
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