It’s been a long day and you’ve had another long argument with your spouse. You’ve aired all your grievances and made crystal clear all the ways he has to change. Finally you’ve decided that it’s about time to look for help – marriage counseling might fix the problem! A therapist might convince him that he has to change!
But are you really ready for couple therapy?
You may find that in couple counseling, you are asked to do something more than list your partner’s faults. In fact, you may not be asked to list them at all. Instead, you may have to take a long hard look at yourself – and at the ways you, yourself, might have to change, in order to be a better partner for your partner! Because for marriage counseling to be successful, BOTH partners have to do 100% of the work.
Psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in his book “The Art of Loving” that love is comprised of 4 elements: care, respect, responsibility, and knowledge. If you care, your partner’s feelings matter to you – as much as your own. If you respect, you are acknowledging your partner’s right to be who he or she is – even if that means they are sometimes disagreeable or annoying. If you take responsibility, you admit that your words and your actions have an impact on your partner, and you take responsibility for those words and actions. And knowledge implies that you have taken care to really get to know your partner and to understand as deeply as possible what it is like to take a walk in his or her shoes.
If your relationship is hurting you both, and you are ready to think about your own words and behavior, then maybe it’s time to schedule that appointment.