Couples therapy is the best course of action when two people are seeking to improve their relationship and solve problems together. Sometimes, though, one person is much more motivated to change. In this case there are two options.
Couples therapy anyway: Some couples come to therapy together and it quickly becomes clear that one person wants to be in therapy and to work towards change and the other is there with very little confidence that anything can change and perhaps with one foot out the door of the relationship. In these cases I often make an agreement with the couple that we’ll start with the topics and wishes of the less hopeful partner. If the partner who chose therapy can show that they’re willing to change that can often energize a more balanced therapy process.
Individual therapy: If you want to change your relationship and your partner won’t work with you, individual therapy can help you to make changes. As the saying goes, the only person you can change is yourself. This is a crucial truth. However, when one person changes, it can sometimes affect the other. If you’re willing to face your self and your behaviour, you can change yourself in ways that will help you see if the relationship can be improved.
In this work you will face your relationship aspirations. What do you want? You’ll face what is possible. What are you willing to live with? You’ll face your red lines. What are you unwilling to live with? There will be grey areas. Perhaps there are things you’re not willing to live with but you’re willing to put some energy into seeing if they can be changed. You’ll face your own behaviour. What do you do that contributes to the unwanted situation? And you’ll face your next step. What can you do to express your clarity?
It takes two to create a difficult relationship. Even when one person is completely at fault, the other person makes choices and accepts certain kinds of behaviour. This acceptance allows the relationship to become and to remain unhealthy.
At the end of this process you will have changed the way you are in relationship. This may lead your partner to change in response. And it may not. But you will know how to create healthy relationships and how to choose partners that are good for you.