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  • Writer's pictureBeth

COUPLES COUNSELLING: 5 MYTHS

#1 It’s only for when your relationship is in real trouble

In the medical world we refer to prevention being better than cure and the same can be said for the way we use couples therapy. People still view it as the ‘last chance saloon’ because relations have broken down so badly. While it’s true that many couples reach out for help at this stage, there are plenty of couples who benefit from therapy when their relationship is not in trouble. This could involve pre-marital therapy to explore their hopes and expectations; having a short course of ‘maintenance’ therapy every few years to check in and sustain positive communication; seeking some extra support when anticipating big life changes such as parenthood, empty-nesting, retirement.


#2 It's a waste of money

If you already feel unsure about going to couples therapy, you’ll probably find it hard to justify spending money on it, but I often speak to couples who spend the cost of a therapy session on an evening out, trying to fix things with a ‘date night’ that only acts as a temporary sticking plaster. This is often neglecting or avoiding proper communication, whereas investing in therapy just once a month can have real and lasting benefits.

Couples therapy could also save you money in the long run if your relationship is ending. An acrimonious breakdown in a marriage can lead to a costly divorce. Going to court to find a resolution can cost an average of £15,000, but this can snowball even more when there is conflict and disagreement. Even the less expensive option of divorce arbitration can cost around £3,000*. Couples therapy can act as a form of mediation to help partners communicate better and find a common ground, which will result in a much cheaper, uncontested divorce.


#3 One partner will be the focus of blame/criticism/judgement

A couples therapist’s job is to be impartial and understanding of both partners. Nobody should ever feel condemnation or blame from a therapist and if you do, you’re with the wrong one.

Sometimes it can feel as though a relationship is breaking down due to one partner’s actions or needs. It could be a change in who they are and what they want from their life; there may have been infidelity or a betrayal of trust; they may be struggling with an illness that changes the dynamic of the relationship. While it’s easy for couples to believe the focus will be more one-sided, with judgement directed at the partner who seems to have "caused the problem", this simply isn’t how couples therapy works.


#4 It’s only for couples trying to mend their relationship

When you know your relationship is over, you may feel as though couples therapy is a pointless exercise. This is a huge misconception. For the majority of couples, the end of a relationship is painful and difficult to manage, even when both partners agree it’s over. If children and finances are involved, this becomes even more challenging. Having a supportive space to work through emotions, practicalities, next steps, and communication techniques can make a world of difference to the way you separate. It’s easy to see the end of a relationship as a failure and to dismiss all that has gone before, but for some people therapy can help them to renegotiate a collaborative partnership and find alternative ways forward.

#5 It’s too late and it won’t work – you’ve already tried everything.

Once communication has broken down and you’ve been trying to fix things for a long time, many couples believe the situation is hopeless. It’s easy to feel exhausted and apathetic when you've become stuck in a cycle of the same arguments, discussions, patterns of behaviour. But sometimes, despite years of trying, there are still things that are difficult to say to our partner; we fear crossing a line or hurting them in an irreparable way.

I know plenty of counsellors attending couples therapy themselves, because even knowing what should help and work isn’t always enough to put it into practice. Often, you need an outside perspective and a neutral, safe space to explore what is happening. Despite preconceived ideas and fears of therapy, couples often report finding it much easier and safer to address their bigger issues with a therapist in the room.


*www.moneyhelper.org.uk

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