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Can marriage counseling work if you’re the only one in the room?

2019-12-11T22:19:41+00:00December 2019|

Many people who are fearful about the future of their marriage find that their partners won’t go to therapy.

If you’re in this frustrating spot, you may be unsure what to do next. You’re ready to work on your relationship, but can you really accomplish anything on your own?

I’m happy to tell you that the answer is yes. In fact, I’ve helped many people explore the issues inside their relationships without their partners present. And along the way, I’ve seen remarkable breakthroughs that have completely changed the course of many marriages – including ones that were on the brink of divorce.

Why it only takes one to tango

Research shows that in close relationships, when one individual changes how s/he relates to the other, the relationship itself shifts. This is because everything we think, do and say has a distinct effect on our partner. The more effective we become in seeking thelove, intimacy and support we want, the greater our chances of getting it.

Think of change within your marriage as an elaborate dance. If you and your partner have fallen out of step, everything feels awkward. Fear, anger and distrust may make it impossible for you to anticipate each other’s moves and flow with the music of life.

But when one partner begins to move differently, the other feels it. If the new steps are introduced in a spirit of caring and respect, both partners will have the opportunity to transform the dance together.

In fact, this metaphor is so clear in explaining how change evolves in marriage that there’s a popular book about it. In “It Takes One to Tango,” therapist and author Winifred Reilly outlines how she saved her own marriage with very little help from her spouse. One partner, acting alone, can spark lasting, significant change, Reilly writes. In fact, she argues that solo counseling can create new patterns in a relationship that often cannot be achieved any other way.

The benefits you’ll get from starting marriage counseling on your own

There are at least three reasons I can think of that you may want to begin counseling on your own right now.

First, you’ll feel relief that comes from entering a safe, encouraging space where your concerns will be heard and understood.

Second, you’ll gain immediate perspective on the things that aren’t working in your relationship — the root causes of the pain you are both feeling.

Third, you will have the opportunity to build new relationship skills that will literally help you move differently, opening the door for meaningful change.

This is how the transformation of your marriage can begin. It starts when one of you has the courage to define the relationship you want and demonstrate that you’re willing to work for it.

What kind of marriage therapy will work best for you?

I provide a full range of therapeutic services for individuals and couples, including two-day marriage counseling intensives, couples retreats and traditional therapy offered in regular office visits. The first step is to schedule an initial conversation so we can discuss what’s happening in your marriage. With a basic understanding of your needs and goals, I can recommend the best course of action and help you get started.

Get in touch with me here to arrange your first meeting. If you’re outside the Seattle area, I am happy to meet with you via videoconference. I look forward to hearing from you!

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