In continuing to read some of the works of David Schnarch I can easily recommend them to you (previously I commented from Passionate Marriage and am currently reading Intimacy and Desire). He says a lot of important things about marriage, couples, sex, intimacy, and a lot of other issues that effect relationships. Previously, I had written about the couple as a crucible from reading Passionate Marriage, but as I read more it seemed clear that he was talking about each of us having our own crucible (which could be defined as a severe trial leading to change) to go through and when we do that together we are building the relationship. (I had thought he was writing about the couple as the crucible.) With further reading, it makes even more sense: change is within, and we have to go through our own crucible process for the couple to change.
In couples therapy, when a couple comes in to work on their relationship, they often spend significant time pointing the finger at their partner for something that is a real problem. And it is almost always the case that the partner has an equal pointing back, and an equally strong issue, too, that counters the first’s complaint. But it is also true that couples get locked into that pattern and don’t know how to get out of it. Sometimes they come to relationship therapy to help, and that is often a good thing to do because they have, quite possibly, tried everything they can think of to fix their problem. It often takes a couples therapist to get them to move beyond their entanglement. (Dr. Schnarch would say this entanglement is a natural path in a couple’s relationship which he calls “gridlock.”)
Couples counseling is about, when it is good, helping a couple unravel their way of doing what they are doing, and changing a pattern that is locking them up. A key is often to help each partner look inside and say more clearly what they are needing to say. Another key is to help each partner see what he or she needs to take on for change to happen. So bring in your entanglements, bring in your concerns about your spouse, that is what couples do, that is what needs to be worked on and gotten through. Couples therapy will address that. And realize that couples therapy may also make you, besides looking at your significant other, look at who you are.