In a relationship,
admitting that you need help can be challenging. Adding tools to your communication 'work bench' will never be a poor investment.
Over these next few minutes, you'll read about what 31 Ottawa couples had to say about therapy. 100% of participants were female, and 97% of these women have male partners. Most have been with their partner for well over a year. Oh, and I've added some fake names since it was an anonymous survey.
The first question I asked my AD8BYK8 community was: As a couple, have you ever been to therapy?
Wanting to go to therapy comes naturally to me, but for 80% of people, it's a hard nut to crack. Who is more hesitant to book an appointment though? 35% admitted their partner is reluctant and isn't keen on joining.
35% of participants said they're both reluctant to go to therapy because it's tough admitting you need help.
This next visual shows me a few key points –
- The #1 issue people would rush to the therapist about is their lack of communication skills!
- People may need some help talking about sex, health & wellness alignment, and/or finances.
- Chatting about kid-related difficulties comes last on the totem pole.
Deciding who takes the kids to soccer next is a very small problem compared with your partner never opening up to you, or being intimate in the bedroom. It all makes sense to me!
THE DARK TIMES
For these 31 couples, the hardest times in their relationships ranged from one partner quitting smoking, to fighting about their wedding. Maybe it's not too late to elope? Or have a surprise ceremony at your engagement party? Eep.
Sarah shared the hardest times were mainly because of, "having young kids. Nothing prepares you for the physical, emotional, psychological exhaustion that ensues, and how much that affects your relationship." But for Natasha, not being able to have a baby is the major stressor in her relationship.
How about a couple who is dealing with a disability? "I was in a car accident which left me permanently disabled after my lower spine and pelvis were broken. This caused us a lot of finances issues and really put a wedge between us as i haven't been able to work in over 6 years. To top this off we ended up with huge medical bills and having to fight the car insurance company. Really hard situation all around," admits Nina.
We all share some combination of universal struggles with other couples. They range from addictions to mental/physical health issues; sleep deprivation to infidelity; and financial hardships to unfulfilling jobs. Guess what? Good communication is the key that'll allow two people to progress forwards.
HOW THERAPY HELPED
Mourning the loss of a loved one can be the tipping point for someone to admit professional help is required.
Sophie's partner Derek lost his brother unexpectedly. He broke things off with her because he was grieving and lost. "We spent 1.5 years apart. It was a difficult time as we had to see each other everyday at work. Patience and separate therapy sessions helped us pull through. We couldn't be happier now!" she explained.
The other takeaways from couples who decided to go to therapy include:
- Pick your battles. Let go, and focus on the good.
- How to still communicate effectively while angry at one another. We can't read minds!
- Understanding that some expectations are not realistic (I'll raise my hand for this one).
- Don't play the blame game. It is an endless loop that brings lots of negativity to the relationship.
- Listen. And just when you think you're listening, listen more intentionally.
Something I've personally learned, is to give yourself permission to be exactly where you are in life. Lost my job? It's okay that I'm not feeling a spark with my partner because I'm all out of sorts. Work a new, much busier job? It's okay that I'm not cooking as much during this chapter (that's what Hello Fresh is for).
Charlie shares, "I need to be more cognizant of my partner's needs. I never made him feel special in our old relationship and I was kind of selfish. I recognize now that even doing small things to make the other person feel loved are important."
Cue - the Five Love Languages. If you haven't added this tool into your communication "work bench," I highly recommend investigating. Just as there are many ways to love someone, there are also many ways to apologize to someone and have them genuinely accept. I recently saw Dr. Gary Chapman speak and will elaborate on this concept soon. You can take the Apology Language quiz here if you're eager to learn!
Whether you choose to ring up a therapist or not, my hope is that you will set up a date with your partner in the coming weeks. Scrap the idea that Valentine's Day should be this picture-perfect event and have a tough conversation over a beautiful dinner.
Talk about your dreams, individually and together. Talk about your love languages and how you can support one another better. Talk about a moment where you were really self-aware of your actions or words, and feel proud. Or, talk about what you like in the bedroom without actually having sex. Maybe in the library while whispering? How's that for a fun date. ;)
P.S. I've been sitting on this blog post for quite some time. The minute I woke up and it was Bell Let's Talk day, I got inspired to finish writing it and hit the send button. I hope something in this article provokes thought in your relationship and if you want to e-mail me with any stories or comments, you can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.