Eight Common Reasons Couples Don't Make it to Relationship Counselling

A 2012 study from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found that “couple therapy positively impacts 70 per cent of couples”. Why then, do couples who are stuck in an uncommunicative, non-intimate, combative relationships choose ongoing heartache and discomfort over therapy? 

Here are eight common reasons couples don’t engage in therapy to improve or save their relationship. 

#1        I don’t want to be told I am to blame 

Blame is counterproductive, and it is not a therapeutic tool or technique to be associated with couples counselling. Whatever has happened in the relationship are no more than facts that will help you both and your therapist find a solution.  

#2        I’m worried the therapist will take my partner’s side

A skilled therapist will not pick one partner over the other and will be actively striving to maintain a position of neutrality. While there may be times when one partner is the focus of a session more than the other, in other sessions the focus will naturally switch. No matter how much you may fear that one partner is “the only problem” — or maybe your partner says so — your couples therapist will not affirm this.

#3        We should be able to work this out ourselves

Why? We can’t all be experts in everything, and Google’s relationship doctor will only do so much. Often a couple is ‘too close’ to the issues or ‘too caught up’ in the fight or withdrawal. It can be hard to see what the real issues are, let alone how to approach them in a way your partner won’t fire up or check out. The stigma of seeing a couples therapist is starting to reverse and all around you, couples are improving their relationships proactively. The Couples Clinic psychologists are skilled in assisting you to diagnose and treat your relationship dilemmas. 

#4        My partner doesn’t want to come

That can present some difficulties in terms of how each person demonstrates personal commitment and value to improving a troubled relationship. But does not make the situation unworkable. There are things that an individual can do to positively influence a relationship or gain more insight as to destructive behaviours or communication styles they might personally exhibit in the relationship. It is worth coming even if your partner won’t.

#5        I can just talk to my friends / family / manager / person at the coffee shop…

Those in our trusted inner circle are happy to give you some support and advice but to repair a relationship they are likely to be out of their depth unless they possess specialised training. Our trusted friends, family members, colleagues or whomever you speak to about your dearest issues are not trained to deal with the complexities of your life, nor can they support from an objective viewpoint. At times, opening up to others about your relationship may be regarded as an act of betrayal to your partner, or the airing of dirty laundry in the wrong back yard.  They are unlikely to be able to take on the formal responsibility for working with you and your partner to rebuild your relationship.

#6        The therapist will judge us

As tenured therapists, we have really heard it all before. Every couple is unique, but your therapist is unlikely to be shocked by anything you share. Most couples experience somewhat similar issues and fall into patterns that become recognisable to a skilled clinician. The Couples Clinic therapists are trained psychologists who have undertaken thorough training to be able to adopt a position of non-judgemental understanding. We pride ourselves on being open to ‘getting your issues’ without imposing our views or opinions on you. 

#7        We can’t afford it 

It is true, therapy is an investment.  But there is a cost either way. Consider the huge emotional and financial investment that you have made into your relationship to this point. Are you prepared to throw that away without seeing if repair is possible? Counselling is by far a cheaper and easier option than divorce. The Application for Divorce fee payable to the Court is currently $865.00 and family law solicitor’s hourly rates sit somewhere between $330 – $1000 per hour. The process can take years. This is all in contrast to a faster, far cheaper process involved with couples counselling with an outcome that keeps a marriage and family unit intact. We spend money on things that we find valuable.

#8        Couples counselling won’t work for us, we’re too far gone

The only way this is true is if one or both partners don’t commit to the process. If you commit to the process, you can accomplish a lot in a session every week, or even a session every other week. What we know from research is that couples who want to stay together and are willing to do the work are successful approximately 84% of the time. That’s great odds right there if you’re serious about staying together.