How Individual Counseling Can Help Your Marriage
I remember many years ago entering my very first counseling appointment by myself. The reason behind me starting therapy felt vague; I knew I wanted to go, but I was not sure why. Years later, it is very clear to me that starting therapy on my own was to improve, and ultimately save my marriage. No, my marriage isn’t a uniquely tough one; if anything, I am lucky to have it on the easier side. But marriage provokes all the good, the bad and the ugly to be revealed by each partner, and I started learning how challenging it was to keep my side of the street clean.
I often wonder what happens to those who call my office line inquiring about couples counseling, but share that their partner is not interested. So many are adamant that the counseling must be done together, and as a result, lose out on potentially marriage saving supportive services all together. Here’s how individual therapy can give you a better marriage and make you a better person:
Your past affects your present. In couples counseling, we focus on the interactional patterns of communication and connection as a couple. Individual counseling focuses on you. I love making insightful connections with clients on how earlier relationships can so often mirror our current partnerships. Individual counseling allows you a place to reshape patterns of how we connect (or don’t connect) with those we love. For instance, if we had a parent who left or was distant, it may feel overwhelming when partners distance themselves from us. Repairing the origin of this feeling gives us better coping and response to our current relationships.
You get to re-regulate your brain. If you have been fighting a lot with your spouse, I’m sure you’re feeling antsy to bring that tension to the therapy table in couples counseling. Without your partner present, your brain gets to regulate its senses and think at a less heightened state (our brains separate when we’re highly emotional). This regulation and safe space allows us to lower down our boxing gloves and ultimately increase moments of insight of our influence in the marriage.
It’s a dress rehearsal for the real thing. I have spent countless hours in my own therapy working through how I want to interact with my spouse and others in real life. I love how I get to stop and work through why certain scenarios are more difficult than others, or why healthy communication triggers me at certain times. I feel that the more we know about ourselves, the more confident we can feel about changing what is needed. There is no judgment if we don’t get it right the first time and this regular private place enables the motto that “practice makes perfect”.
A little space never hurt anybody! Marriage lasts a long time. In most cases, they’re there when we wake up, they’re there when we… you get it. Marriages that are fused together with the same hobbies, the same everything often suffer in the long run when one partner realizes they feel engulfed or have lost themselves along the way. Individual counseling gives you a place to reconnect with your true self and ultimately, that unique person your spouse fell in love with in the beginning.