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Couples Therapy: Why It Fails...

Updated on February 8, 2014

A Last Ditch Effort...

Just about everyone either knows of a couple or has personal experience with going to “couples therapy” sessions. It’s not unheard of for couples to proceed with divorce proceedings afterwards. There are a variety of reasons why “couples therapy” fails and most of them have nothing to do with the therapist.

Married the wrong person to begin with….

Neither spouse knew exactly what they wanted or expected from the other. There was no meeting of the minds with regard to finances, raising children, or household chores. The courtship wasn’t long enough to establish if they were truly sexually compatible. Some people save their best for the beginning of a relationship.

Before getting married you should know who you are, what your needs and wants are, and most of all what makes you happy. This requires dating experience, time, and some serious introspective thinking. If you don’t know what you want you are likely to make an impulsive decision rather than an “informed decision”.

Married for the wrong reasons....

“I was tired of being single, getting old, or all my friends were married.” “We’ve been together for three years it was only natural to take things to the next level.” “We got pregnant and it just made sense” “The sex was off the charts!” “We were in Vegas one weekend and after getting drunk we decided (why the hell not!)” “My significant other makes a ton of money and can offer me a high standard of living” Any marriage based upon “circumstances” rather than love is likely to fail.

One person has already decided they want out....

They know from the outset they are planning to get out but want the world to know “they tried everything”. Honestly it's rare when (both people) want to go to counseling. What usually happens is one is "going along" to appease the other In other words they've waited so long to address issues that one of them has already decided to leave.

The following article describes the types of couples that benefit the most from therapy.

“The answer is young, non-sexist, still in love, open couples.” By the time most couples seek therapy they're not feeling like they are "still in love".

Expecting a miracle....

A lot of people approach counseling with the hope it will change “their mate”. These people tend to think they are “right” and want a third party to acknowledge it.

Once the therapist begins to point out flaws on both sides and assigns homework regarding respect, communication, compromise, negotiation, acceptance, and seeing things from their mate’s point of view…etc they become dejected. The most they are going to learn is how to coexist peacefully. No one can teach you how to be "happy”. The therapist’s role is to teach you how to make the most out of a choice you made.

He/she will try to show you a way to fit square pegs into round holes but they won’t be able to teach you how to change water into wine! Most people would be better served to have pre-marital counseling. A recent article describes how most therapy is conducted.

“Confrontation over the causes for marriage failure, with couples forced to endure weekly sessions where they air their grievances (not just current issues, but reaching back into time and reopening old emotional wounds) and then attempting to talk through the incidents in order to reach a resolution. As you can well imagine, this approach can be painful, drawn out and frequently leaves couples raw and angry.”

Actually it’s fairly easy to get along with just about anyone. Truth be told even a fox and a hen could get along if they mutually respected one another. One could easily buy a paperback copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and call it a day. A happy marriage however is much more than simply “getting along”. A marriage without passion and desire is nothing more than being roommates with the same last name.

You don't negotiate or demand love and affection (They are given freely)

You can't manufacture chemistry. (It's either there or it's not)

There are only two basic reasons why your partner isn't giving you what you want. (Assuming you have communicated your needs, wants, and desires.)

1. They don't have it to give.

2. They don't think you are worth the effort to give it to.

Keep in mind people change when THEY want to change.

Accept or Move On....

You have two options and those are accepting them as they are or move on. Sticking around to plead, nag, beg, or issue ultimatums will most likely only lead to frustration on your part and resentment on their part. If you want an apple but purchase an onion instead, whose fault is that? You are responsible for your own happiness!

We’d all do better to live by the words of the world famous AA prayer.

The Serenity Prayer

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

--Reinhold Niebuhr

One man’s opinion!


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