As a relationship therapist and marriage counselor in Fort Worth, I’m sometimes met with couples who admit they have dragged their feet to schedule their initial appointment. One or both partners share they have concerns with the meaning of therapy. They often believe bad things are to come!
This circumstance makes me think of a quote from poet, Erin Hanson: “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”
I think too often we place focus on the negative. It can be scary to try something new. But what I think is even scarier, is not doing anything at all.
Now I don’t know who said this, but I’ve heard it in different variations. I’ll put it this way: Personal growth comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and change needs personal growth. This implies being an active participant and expressing awareness of a need for change to occur if a relationship is experiencing troubles.
It is very common to consider couples therapy as a strategy to work through relationship issues. Some couples are on the same page and feel very comfortable with seeking therapy with a therapist. However, other partners may have conflicting views about therapy or they share the same discomfort with attending therapy sessions.
Be that as it may, the toughest part for me, as a relationship therapist, is when one partner coerces the other begrudgingly to session. Not everyone will be ready for couples therapy at the same time. So, what can you do?
Below are four strategies to consider if you are still on the fence about therapy.
There is a plethora of wonderful self-help books available in bookstores and online. There are numerous books on relationship help, self-esteem issues, depression, anxiety, attachment issues, boundary problems, etc. I keep a list of some of my favorite books for those clients of mine that are interested.
Again. So many different options out there! Many therapists and counselors offer their knowledge in a variety of therapy and self-care podcasts. This is a great way to get current information while driving to work or making dinner or picking up your kids. There is less commitment to a podcast than reading a whole book. You can pick and choose the material you believe will give you the most benefit.
Turn to those who you admire and view as good role models. Or you may consider talking to someone who has gone through similar relational issues. Whomever you confide in, should exhibit an objective stance and express support without turning your partner into the bad guy or gal!
Here’s a tough one. Make a list of the top three negative behaviors that play a role in your relationship problems. Don’t think about your partner’s behaviors; just your own. If for instance, active listening is an issue for you, Google it! Look over the tips to active listening and practice them. If you notice your partner has active listening problems, don’t make it your mission to set them straight. Stay focused on you!
Coming to couples therapy does not mean you are headed to divorce or a breakup. But if you don’t make any positive changes, with or without therapy, chances are greater that you could be headed there anyway. Whatever you do, do something about it! No one else is going to make these changes for you
Zully Schultz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and co-owner/founder of Reconnecting Relationships Therapy. She received her training at The Parenting Center and The Glick House while she worked toward her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She made the decision to receive a higher education in counseling at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, TX after undergoing her own therapy to work through intergenerational trauma. She became aware of the impact her history had on her current relationships and sought professional help to address those issues. She has great interest in helping individuals and couples connect authentically and to communicate effectively. She is married to her husband of 23 years, and they share two daughters, ages 21 and 17. Zully also begins her new role as the new president-elect for the Fort Worth Area Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in February 2022.