Individuals in Relationships
Are you (and perhaps your partner) struggling and wondering how things can get better?
Are you feeling frustrated that your partner refuses to get help to repair your relationship? Or simply shuts down when you try to discuss your issues?
Does your partner appear to be putting little, if any, effort into improving your relationship? Are you losing help that things will only continue to get worse and not better?
Wondering if there’s anything you can do to improve your relationship on your own?
Too many couples in troubled relationships wait far too long to get professional help. By the time both agree to counseling, the relationship may have been pushed to its breaking point. Studies have found, however, that working on relationships alone (if the other refuses to participate) can have equally positive results. For example, at the University of Denver, results from a five-year longitudinal study of 300 long-term couples suggest that a month or so after receiving relationship-skills training, those who got it as individuals saw as much improvement in their relationships as those who got the training as a couple. So, if your partner won’t join you in counseling, going it alone can be just as effective.
Yes, it is easy to lose motivation when you feel like you’re the only one putting in the effort to fix things. However, many in this situation find that when they actively work on their role and skills in their relationship, the quality of the relationship does improve and often times significantly.
A question frequently asked is, “What if my partner is responsible for our relationship issues?”
While it may appear as if one partner is solely “responsible” for the relationship troubles, this is almost never the case; both partners, to some degree, contribute to their relationship challenges. Yet, when one partner’s relationship skills grow and develop, the relationship as a whole is likely improved as well.
How does this work?
For starters, together we will work on:
- Identifying the problems (which may not be so obvious) between the two of you;
- Understanding your role and involvement in your relationship issues;
- Reviewing ways to communicate your needs and concerns effectively;
- Defining action steps and things you can do differently to regain friendship, closeness, romance, and intimacy with your partner;
- Finding ways to make yourself happy and content both within and outside of your relationship; and,
- Learning to cope with elements of the relationship that you cannot change.
You will likely see how your partner’s response to you changes as your communications, attitudes, and actions evolve. While you’re welcome to invite your partner to participate with you in counseling, don’t ever coerce. Hopefully at some point your partner will be curious about this other person in your life and where the changes are coming from. This is an opportunity for you to be a role model and engage in different behaviors to demonstrate the positive impact you’re experiencing in counseling. Perhaps your partner will want to meet your counselor. Even one meeting can provide perspective on the relationship.
Remember, it takes two to tango… the actions of one dancer dramatically impact the other. The same is true of all relationships on and off the dance floor; the efforts of one partner can make a huge difference! Over time, unresolved issues can cripple a relationship to the point of no return. Don’t let this happen to you. I invite you to take the first step now to get help to turn things around before it is too late.