How to Win at Couples Therapy
Written By Isaac Simpson
A lot of guys are super turned off by the idea of couples therapy. What’s so wrong that you need a third party to tell you what’s right? Are they really that unhappy?
In fact, it’s not that bad. And if you play it right, it can even be used to your advantage.
First off, don’t worry. Your partner wanting to go to couples therapy is a good thing — it means they're serious about you. The old adage that great relationships take work is 100% true. This is just them putting that work in.
After deciding to not be resistant, the question is what to do in therapy. In all likelihood, there are some things that your partner is trying to get across to you that they're having trouble communicating, or that you’re refusing to hear. They think they're right, you think you’re right, and neither of you is able to convince the other.
The therapist will act as a sort of relationship referee. After listening to the issues your partner raises and allowing you to respond, the therapist will begin to make the calls about who needs to do what to make things better. But don’t fret. This is actually a good thing. Therapists are trained to see both sides and are extremely good at weighing issues in a balanced way. That means that unless you are a total piece of shit, your partner is also going to be getting a big earful of all the stuff they've been doing wrong. In fact, they may be in for a lot more criticism than they've bargained for.
The key to “winning” at couples therapy is not just to explain your side, but to explain why your side is your side. You have to speak the language of psychotherapy, which means honestly articulating your emotions and, even more importantly, your emotional needs. Relationship therapists are trained to understand things from this perspective: what each member of the relationship needs from the other to feel good. To get the therapist on your side is to explain not only what you need from your partner, but why you need it.
If you’re honest and transparent about your emotions and needs, there will be nothing to hide in therapy, and it might actually make your partner understand you better. The impetus will switch them to fulfill your needs, now that they're aware of them.