This summer I celebrated by 12th wedding anniversary (yay!) and I can honestly say that I love my husband more today than I did 12 years ago. Of course there were times when it wasn’t easy and several years ago I went to therapy to deal with it.
I specifically sought a couples therapist and told her that I wanted work on my marriage. Strange because my husband wasn’t with me but I needed help and going to therapy is how I know to get help. She introduced me to the power of Couples Therapy with One Person.
She gathered background information about me and my husband. She wanted to know my perspective on the situation but also asked about his. What does he think about the problems? What does he want to be different? she inquired. And when I couldn’t answer for him I had my homework, go home and ask!
I had my moments of feeling angry and resentful that I was going to therapy by myself. He should be here I thought. Why do I have to this and he doesn’t? And then I remembered that our marriage transcended us and it was less about fairness and more about doing what’s best for this third entity, our marriage. Going to therapy was how I knew how to address the problem. And he was doing what he knew to address the problem. We were both trying. Suddenly the unfairness of the situation melted away.
There are lots of reasons that partners won’t go to couples therapy. They may be uncomfortable talking about themselves, unsure what to expect, or nervous about therapy. However it doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed because someone won’t come to couples therapy. I’ve learned from personal and professional experience that Couples Therapy with One Person really does work.
So how is Couples Therapy with One Person different from Individual Therapy?
When you’re in individual therapy that person is the focus and client. But for Couples Therapy with One Person it is the relationship, not you, but the relationship itself that’s the client and focus of the work. Your partner’s perspectives, feelings, and concerns are as important as yours. Jeff Bezos, the president of Amazon.com is known for leaving a seat empty when he holds meetings. The empty seat represents the customer. It helps him and his team to always remember that their focus is on the customer.
Couples Therapy with One Person is similar. Though only one person is present in the therapy room we acknowledge and consider the partner and the entire relationship during each session. We imagine how they would respond and react to what’s being discussed. And of course part of the homework is to go home and ask them! The partner is still a part of couples therapy even when they aren’t in the office.
So the next time that you find yourself in yet another argument with your partner that seems never ending consider the changes that you can make with Couples Therapy with One Person. I’ve tried it and it works!
Share your story with us. Have you tried couples therapy? What worked? What was hard about it? Let’s learn from each other!