Many of the couples I see in my therapy room admit to having had reservations before coming to meet me. I find that one of them has instigated the idea and then persisted to start therapy. This often leaves the other feeling dragged along to therapy.
There doesn’t seem to be a stigma about being in therapy these days. So why isn’t it ‘normal’ for couples experiencing some difficulties to seek help with their relationship?
As I’ve thought about this subject, I’ve realised that there are other relationships missing from my therapy room – couples that haven’t committed to one another yet or have been in a relationship for a shorter time.
So, when we think of couples therapy, are we assuming this is a service for long term relationships only?
Not actress Kristen Bell who says that she has "done a lot of work" on her relationship with her husband Dax Shepard.
“We’ve made a choice to love each other but realise relationships are a lot of work, I think it’s responsible to be honest about that. It’s hard work, working out the kinks of learning how to argue because we disagree on almost every topic on the planet. We earned our relationship, which we’re very proud of.”
Kirsten and Dax Shepard chose to have therapy early on in their relationship. Last year he told Good Housekeeping magazine that when they met: “There were hurdles, things she didn’t trust about me, things I didn’t trust about her. I just kept going back to ‘this person has the thing I want, and I have to figure out how we can exist peacefully’. So we started seeing a therapist together right away.”
Kirsten says therapy gave her “a much bigger toolbox” for when they had disagreements, explaining: “You do better in the gym with a trainer; you don’t figure out how to cook without reading a recipe. Therapy is not something to be embarrassed about.”
Refreshing news and I wonder if Britain’s young couples are wising-up to the benefits of early relationship therapy, too. More and more people are having individual therapy and I hope we will see more couples having ‘preventative therapy’.
‘Preventative therapy’ doesn’t wait for deep-rooted issues to surface, it can help make sure issues never have time to grow their roots.
In Britain, Marina and husband Ben Fogle describe having ‘marriage MOTs’. They began therapy by talking about their challenges and differences. Fogle says “we see doctors, hygienists, opticians and mechanics before there are problems, and I’d argue our emotional well-being is significantly more important than our cars, eyes or teeth. If you can learn how to be strong while the going is easy, you will be better equipped for the more challenging terrain when it comes.”
Deciding to have couples counselling, preventative therapy or a marriage MOT (however you dress it up) seems a wise investment in our future relationships.
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