Sometimes I am contacted by one partner who really wants to save a relationship while the other doesn’t seem to care. Usually in these cases the person contacting me cannot get their spouse to come to counselling and wants to know if there is any point in coming alone.
The short answer is yes.
You see, there are reasons why your partner has shut down. And if you are the spouse who wants to save the relationship, you may be able to help the other person want to commit again, if you can do something about the reasons.
Now, I am NOT saying it is going to be easy. It is much easier to repair a relationship when both people are actively involved in wanting it to work. I am only saying that some of the time, it can be possible to influence the other person into reconsidering. A lot depends on what got you to this point.
One thing is almost certain. If you are the one who wants it to work, you are going to dare to have some hard conversations for some time before there is any hope of change. If you can get your partner to open up without a mediator present, it may not be pretty. You are going to have to call on reserves of love, tolerance and compassion likely beyond anything you have used before.
You see, before a person who feels badly hurt will consider getting close, they have to feel heard. And that means listening to and paraphrasing back things you may find hurtful. You may not agree with what they have to say. But if you can listen with all the kindness and caring you can muster, they will eventually begin to feel heard. And that is when a real change can begin.
Ideally, you want to tap into the layer below the surface resentments. The one where you realize that it’s not only feeling they are always doing more than their share of the chores (for example), it’s feeling alone, like they don’t have a partner they can count on to watch their back and be a true teammate. Perhaps it’s hearing that they don’t get enough sex and realizing that they don’t feel wanted and loved. It’s showing that you care about what is REALLY bothering them, even if it takes a while to come out. That you want to be there for them. That they can trust you.
These are hard conversations to have without guidance and without someone neutral, on the side of the relationship, to help. That’s where I come in. But even if you work with me alone for a while, I may be able to help you understand what is going on enough to start to make a change, and that may be enough to get your partner to start coming.
Hope is contagious. Let’s learn about hope and love together, and create a better future for you, whatever happens.