(I WANT TO POINT OUT THAT I AM AN EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED THERAPIST AND MY SPECIALTY IS WORKING WITH COUPLES)
That said, it is actually, quite normal for one person in the couple to object to going to therapy. Reasons given can vary tremendously: “too much money”, “my friend says therapy ended his marriage”, “you just want to get in there and tell them what’s wrong with me”……and on and on. Many times these reasons are basically revealing a deep fear of being exposed, a sense that indeed, it might actually be true that that he/she is at fault, afraid of dredging up old childhood wounds and bad memories…and limitless fears and reasons. In short, there is a fear of being blamed and shamed and not having a good outcome after a huge investment of time, money, and raw emotion.
So what to do? I’m suggesting that there is still hope. Rather than making this a whole new argument or point of conflict, what about expressing some empathy and understanding and offering to go yourself? This is a very positive move, especially if it is done with authentic warmth, acceptance, and respect. You accept the partner’s stance and relieve them of any pressure.
And always remember, if one link in the chain shifts, the other link is almost forced to make a change in order to stay balanced!!!
So go ahead. Make an appointment for yourself. Find a therapist that will really listen and help you sort out your feelings, maybe get rid of some resentments, validate other thoughts and feelings, and at the very least, help you feel a lot better because you now have clarity about what you have been experiencing. Now you will have a clear narrative for yourself and your spouse, rather than the chaos that can occur when one ruminates in circles all alone. Try not to focus on your spouse and analyze him/her. Just decide that you are valuable and that investing in you is a wonderful thing to do.
By taking care of yourself and achieving a new level of mental and emotional health, you are taking responsibility for your own “stuff” and demonstrating courage and strength both for you and your spouse. Think of it this way: you are no longer waiting around for someone else and you are taking your power back…..not over your spouse, but over you but over your very own self. You are taking charge of your life and moving forward. As far as I’m concerned it’s a win-win.
Hopefully, now, you will be more attractive to yourself and your spouse. If your spouse is too insecure to be with the new and improved you (assuming that you are loving, kind and empathetic)……it’s still valuable information that you have about your relationship. My belief is that by tuning in to yourself, you can better tune in to your spouse. I may be a cockeyed optimist, but I have seen this happen many times and nine times out of ten the partner eventually says “I want what you have” and goes to therapy after all. In that case, you, my dear, have brought both of you together and there is new hope for a heart to heart connection (or, in other words, an intimate attachment). We are all hardwired to live life better together. Historically, partnering increased chances of survival. These days, partnering can go beyond survival to include joyful sharing, enriched experiences, mutual growth, better physical health, and last, (and most important) the benefits of emotional and sexual love. Like the old proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”