Maybe one of your resolutions was to sort out those niggling problems in your relationships or to do more to bring you and your partner closer. I've been thinking about these kinds of 'relationship resolutions' and what happens if your resolution has been to work on your relationship, but when you asked your partner to go to therapy, they said no?
It can seem so painful and discouraging to feel that your partner is not on board with your idea, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t still forge ahead with your mission without them and attend counseling on your own.
It can be an alien concept for many people to even think about talking to a relationship counselor and it’s very common for some partners to act reluctantly or ambivalently towards it; so don’t feel that you are alone in your predicament.
Stuck in a rutOften we don’t realize we each know our moves so well that it doesn’t even feel as though we have the option to do anything differently. When you get stuck in a relationship rut, it’s like Groundhog Day over and over again, so round and around you go on a merry-go-round of frustration.
Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I understand it can be so hard to break your patterns if you’ve been stuck in a rut for a long time. You keep repeating the same steps, getting the same maddening results and end up feeling more and more disheartened and disconnected from each other.
Learning new movesWell the good news is that although your partner may not want to come to counseling with you, you can still work with a therapist on your own to become more aware of your feelings and behavior and learn how to do something differently. If you can learn some new approaches, you can work on developing your relationship and in turn generate a different outcome.
It is very hard, if not impossible to change your partner’s behavior and reactions, but what you can control is what you choose to do. You will find when you start to make changes, this will automatically affect the dynamic of your relationship.
Lead the wayYou might feel that your partner is the one who needs to change, but it could be that you have to be the one to take the lead in facilitating changes to your relationship if your partner is unwilling. Take heart in that by coming to counseling you are already doing something differently.
For example, it might be that you have been trying to talk to your partner for a long time and they respond by shutting down or walking away, which makes you more frustrated and then you pursue harder.
By coming to therapy and talking to someone else about how to work things out, you are already creating a different dynamic. As you step away from them, you may give your partner the space to be the one to come to you to talk and connect. In turn you can relax and not worry so much, which might then help your partner relax and feel less nervous when you need to talk about things.
Converting the skepticI have seen it happen many times that someone comes in on their own for counseling, because their partner was unwilling to come. However, as their unwilling partner starts to sense and see changes in their partner as a result of therapy and feel the relationship shift, they become curious as to what has been happening in the counseling room without them.
When there are tangible results, it can encourage the skeptical or reluctant partner to be more interested and open to the process, even asking if they can come along next time!