5 Reasons Why Couples In Trouble Don’t Get Help (And How To Get Over It)
Do you know why some couples don’t get help with their relationship? They are struggling, but rather than seek assistance, they give up.
Can you guess why?
Granted, a myriad of moving parts in a relationship keeps things interesting. Who is the cause of what, for instance? If my relationship isn’t working, why isn’t it working? Is it me? Is it him? Is it us? Figuring all of this out is a lot to ask of any couple, no matter how smart and savvy you are!
A relationship between two people can seem complicated because it’s a multi-blending of families, children, pets, friends, homes, and belongings. A relationship also requires juggling preferences in communication, relaxation, sex and love, eating, money, lifestyle and livelihood.
Here’s the million dollar question: With so many moving parts, what’s my power of influence? How can we make it turn out right for both of us?
And if it’s not working out, do you seek help, or do you “go it alone” crossing your fingers, hoping for the best?
WHY COUPLES DON’T GET HELP
Couples who don’t get help have their reasons. Here are five I see most often.
#1 — To have a better marriage, I’d need a new partner.
Some pairs have concluded (often secretly) that an improved marriage would require a trade-in — they’d have to find a different partner. Why? Their marriage hasn’t improved even though they’ve given it their best shot. They’ve tried and failed repeatedly, and have real-time proof that “this is the way their relationship is.” They give up, because the cost of changing partners (emotional or otherwise) is too great.
Basic Belief: I am not powerful enough to change how my relationship works.
#2 — Our problems are not my fault. I don’t need help. He does.
If you’re certain the relationship doesn’t work because of your partner, not because of you, I understand. (I believed that fully for three marriages and divorces.) After all, who wants to point the finger homeward? It’s more convenient to ask a partner to change. Many of us hold out for that.
No one asks for help and no one gets it.
Basic Belief: I’m superior to my partner.
#3 — If we went to a consultant for help, or took a class, I’d be expected to change.
Oh No! Go to therapy? Take a class? Talk to a relationship consultant?
Do things differently? Move out of my comfort zone? Learn new ideas about relating? Take a crash course in relationships at THIS age? Learn not to blame? Notice when I complain? Pay attention to my voice tone, my emotions, my communication?
Nope. I don’t think I’m up for that. I think I’ll stay the same, thanks anyway.
Basic Belief: Change is difficult and not worth it in the end.
#4 — If we got help, and things began to work out, I’d be wrong about the past.
The fear is that if you did get help, and your relationship DID work after all, then you’d be wrong about the (plethora of awful) things you said about the relationship — or him! Oops!!
If you ask for help, what if you find out that it was you who miscalculated? Or misinterpreted? Misunderstood? That you were repeating a past pattern that affected both of you? That you didn’t see the whole picture, just your side of things, and you swore (to quite a few people) that you were the innocent victim, your hands were tied, and that it was his fault completely…
Then what? How would you reel all the criticism back in, swallow your pride, tell a new story — be perfectly imperfect? Do you simply say “Sorry, I was wrong about him?” How would all of that work exactly?
It’s all too embarrassing, uncomfortable and revealing. It’s less trouble and more dignified to simply stay the same.
Basic Belief: It’s more important to be right than be happy.
#5 — It takes two to tango. (Or tangle…) And he won’t come with me to see you.
He should get help right along with me to rescue this marriage. Why should he get off free as a bird? Why should I do all the work? What about him? Give me a break — he gets to do whatever he wants, and I have to make all the adjustments?!? No, I don’t think so!
If he won’t join me, any efforts I make will fall short because we’re in this together and he should help fix it. He should realize his responsibility, take some initiative, make a move, try harder, make an effort, DO something! He needs to make an effort.
Basic Belief: I’m not a leader, I’m a follower/victim.
All of these approaches are “hole in the bucket” — they don’t hold water. They are based on false premises.
- These ideas are totally backwards. They represent the opposite of what works.
- These approaches keep your relationship in a (negative) repeating loop. No fun!
- These beliefs are counter-productive. Not addressing an issue accurately works against you.
- Focusing on changing someone else is not a sustainable practice. It makes you old and crabby and tired. Eventually, it takes a toll on your health.
- It’s a lot of work to try to change others, and they resent you for it. Eventually, they walk away or spend less time with you because it’s no fun being the one who is always wrong.
- The moment you blame, you have zero power. You’ve lost all of it. Blame means “I have now taken my hands off the wheel, and when we crash, I”ll point to you in the passenger seat and make sure you know that I think you’re the cause of my trouble.”
10 BETTER IDEAS
- Change any part of your relationship machine, and the whole pattern between you shifts. Don’t depend on others for what is yours to do. It takes one person to change a relationship. Most people underestimate this entirely.
- If things are not working in your relationship, either of you can reach out for help. It doesn’t matter who takes the initiative. If the success of the relationship is on your mind, nominate yourself. You’re the perfect candidate to find help for yourself, or for the two of you. Go ahead and get some help for yourself. You may find that all sorts of trouble clears up through your changes alone.
- To make a relationship work, you might need a new. clearer partnership — with yourself. (Call me if you want to dive into that. It’s a very freeing process, one that’s easy to love.)
- If things begin to work better now, who cares about the past?
- You needn’t explain anything to anyone about changes in your relationship. You do not owe others an extensive update. (No, not even your mother. Talk less, smile more, she’ll get it. She just wants you to be happy.)
- Talk less to others about your relationship. If others do ask, speak in short sentences. Speak generally, not specifically. You’ll find pretty quickly that if you don’t blurt details about your relationship, people rarely ask.
- Self-criticism or worry about being right or wrong slows you down. Don’t bother with it. Skip right over that one.
- Don’t be concerned about being off the mark, making mistakes or goofing up. Everyone is always learning. It’s a natural human condition. It’s how anyone learns and discovers — ask an inventor! Surrender to being a spirit in a human body, happily learning as fast as you can, doing your best with what you’ve got. You’re wonderful. Keep evolving. Keep experimenting!
- Making changes is a voluntary activity. Nobody can make you change. You don’t need to change. Don’t succumb to pressure to be different than you are, if you’re not ready. When you’re ready, change away! Make changes to your heart’s content. Have fun creating a new you!
- For most humans, change is more satisfying and fun than standing still — in fact, it’s thrilling! The power to change is always in your capable hands, right where it belongs.
couples therapy, In Care of Relationships, intimate relationships, Terri Crosby