Dear Vitamin C –
My partner and I have had the normal ups and downs of any relationship but lately it seems it has had more downs than ups. When should a couple seek counseling? Also, what should I do if my partner doesn’t want to go to counseling?
Sincerely – Just Curious
Dear Just Curious –
Riding the wave of ups and downs is a normal part of couple-hood. But when communication declines to a more negative state and you are no longer able to connect in healthy way, seeking help from a professional is advisable.
Here are three things to reflect on when considering counseling:
First, are my values being compromised? Your values are non-negotiable. If you feel your partner is disregarding what is essential to you (i.e. trust, respect, loyalty, etc.) without any remorse or attempt to repair then seeking counseling is a must. Giving up your core values to stay in a relationship will likely lead to dysfunction.
Second, has our communication declined to a negative state? Are boundaries being crossed? Are you left wondering at times if your partner even likes you? These are all signs that counseling would be a good idea. Left unchecked negativity in your communications can be very destructive to your relationship.
Third, how is our connection? Are you able to share your inner world with your partner or do you feel you are walking on eggshells? Do you feel the power is unbalanced? Any time you are in a “power-over” relationship you will likely find that any connection with your partner is lost.
If you’d like to try counseling but your partner doesn’t, get curious and ask “why?” It’s possible that your partner fears counseling, which may be resolved through talking. If your partner simply refuses to try counseling or otherwise work on your relationship, then you face a loyalty issue. That is, it is unhealthy to be more loyal to a relationship than to yourself. And, if your partner is unwilling to work with you on your relationship, then seeking counseling for yourself is the next step.
Navigating relationships can be difficult at times but is always worth the effort. I truly believe the better your relationships are the better your life is.
Yours – Vitamin C