Marriage counseling in Denver is often seen as an effective process if both parties attend and participate. That’s not true! Depending on the situation, working on a relationship alone can be just as effective (if your partner is refusing to join you). At the University of Denver, results from a longitudinal study of 300 long-term couples show that individuals who receive relationship-skills training see as much improvement in their relationships as couples who receive it. So, you can still receive the benefits of counseling without your partner’s participation if he or she refuses to.
Frustration is a natural reaction if your partner refuses to cooperate. Relationships need effort from both parties, not just you! Avoid letting your partner’s unwillingness create yet another stumbling block between you and your partner. When one of you starts acting differently, your relationship will change, regardless of which of you is interested in improving it.
However, what am I really capable of achieving alone?“
Expect a pleasant surprise! In order to improve your relationship, you must learn to understand your own actions and words. When you understand your role in your ongoing issues, it becomes impossible for your relationship to continue as before. When you invest time in improving your own communication skills, discovering new tools to better handle conflict, and thinking about how you can meet your needs, you will find that your relationship will be more stress-free and relaxed. As time goes on, your partner will notice how much different you are and will probably do the same.
When you conduct personal introspection, you will recognize the destructive patterns that you both fall into. Your new tools and skills will enable you to realize that things are capable of changing… The changes need to be made even if you are the only one (at least in the beginning). Your relationship will be enriched as you discover new, positive ways to contribute to it.
Would it be okay to insist my partner attend counseling with me?
It is more likely to cause more harm than good if your partner goes to counseling with you. Having one’s actions dictated to them isn’t fun. There may already be resentment between you two, but an ultimatum could increase it. Counseling efforts can be derailed to the point of failure if your partner refuses to participate. It is best not to force your partner into something she or he is not willing to do.
Demands, especially in relationships that are already shaky, rarely strengthen the relationship; they usually fuel it. Although some people feel better trying to improve things on their own without the help of a counselor, I understand that it would be better not to (seemingly) be the only one making the effort. Sometimes, the other person will come around to counseling if the one who attends is making good progress. Patience is a virtue.
Wouldn’t my partner come to me if she/he truly cared for me?”
You may not be able to convince your partner to join you in counseling for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with you or your relationship. The individual may fear revealing a bad experience from the past. During a session, perhaps s/he is afraid that they will be “ganged up on” (something a skilled counselor would never do) or openly blamed for their problems by their partner. The intent of your partner not attending counseling should not be interpreted as a sign of malice toward you or the relationship.