Maybe once a month or so, a patient comes to relationship therapy alone and works on the relationship, hoping to make things better. There is plenty of work that can be done in individual work on the relationship. And when the patient brings up that the spouse says that they are “100% at fault” for what is bad in the relationship, it is not a good sign. It doesn’t mean that the relationship or the therapy is doomed to failure, but it does mean that things will be difficult.
When a partner believes they have no problems in the relationship, they are stuck. Not being willing to look at yourself or your issues in the relationship often causes problems in the relationship. One person doing all the changing can be a good thing, but it doesn’t always result in making the relationship better. When a partner is not willing to work with you in a mutual way about change, the relationship is hobbled.
Inviting the non-responsive partner to join the therapy often doesn’t work because, the non-attending partner often says, “it is not my problem,” or “you are the on that needs therapy, not me” or some such close minded statement. And being close minded is the end of change. The work, therefore, often is in the person willing to change (the one that choses to go to couples therapy alone, or relationship therapy) working on changing, working on seeing how the partner is seeing them, working on what would make the partnership better for the partner and as well as better for both partners. Working on better communication, blocks to intimacy, finding how one is too controlling, etc., will often help the solo patient begin to bring about change in the relationship. Even if the partner will not come to couples therapy. There is often plenty of work to do alone.