Most of our partners have behaviors we struggle with.
If you occasionally find your partner annoying, don’t worry – you’re human. But sometimes, these issues escalate. We feel really helpless and angry and resentful with the other person. We might even begin to question the relationship entirely.
Generally, this is around the time that we cart ourselves off to couples therapy.
The problem is…what if your partner won’t go to therapy?
They might have negative associations with therapy. They may have had a terrible experience in their past. They could also be a “stoic”, or someone who doesn’t love the idea of bringing their problems to another person.
So, what can you do?
When things get really bad and they still don’t want to go to couples therapy, prevailing wisdom tells us we should just give up on the relationship and leave. But there’s another option.
If you still want to be with them, you can double down on your own efforts to learn how to co-regulate your partner to de-escalate the situation. Gaining some practical tools can really help, and you can get them by going to therapy yourself.
To be clear, I’m not telling you that you can change the other person or manipulate them into doing what you want.
This is more about your own patterns and responses to the things your partner does. It would be helpful, no matter what, to become aware of things you may be doing that feed into those behaviors. You can, with a skillful individual therapist, do a lot of work to repattern your reactions. You can also learn how to self-regulate and keep calm to be able to handle your partner’s irritating behaviors.
This is sort of like training for athletes. It’s a muscle memory. A lot of us don’t start fights, but we make them much worse by exacerbating situations. Things that could have been just annoyances, turn into full-blown drama. Similar to what people do in sports training, you can start to develop different response patterns so you are better equipped.
You have options.
By making different choices, you can avoid participating in the same tired patterns. I recommend starting here if you keep having the same old fights over and over again.
Why do I suggest this?
The truth is, this recommendation is about more than just your relationship. It’s about all your relationships going forward – whether this one works out or not!
The truth is, you can’t control other people. But you can control yourself. Your attachment wounds, avoidant patterns, and defensive patterns are accessible! It’s a great time to get acquainted with them and start to deliberately address them.
This can be done by you, with a therapist, as soon as you’re ready.
Maybe your partner will never change. But if you don’t change your own reactions, it is very likely that you’ll repeat the same things in your partnerships going forward. Do you know someone who has been married several times, but insists that they’re not the problem? Yeah – don’t let this be you!
Okay, so…what about my current relationship?
There’s something magical that I see all the time in my practice working with couples. One person starts working through their own issues and there is a snowball effect. The entire relationship dynamic begins to shift. Sometimes dramatically.
Your partner and you might just be stuck in a loop. Over, and over, and over again, you’re doing the same old stuff. But if one of you gets off the seesaw, the balance changes. And that can actually change everything.
Clarity begets clarity.
If you bring clarity to your partner around what you will or will not tolerate, it often accelerates the maturation of the relationship. This can be done through one person just getting really clear.
What’s more, this departure from the norm can have another effect. It can help give you a more accurate assessment of your relationship. Your judgment might be clouded right now, but it doesn’t have to be. After you commit to bettering yourself by working with a therapist, you might just find that you have no regrets…no matter who you’re partnered with.
Reach out to me if you want help. You can book a session with me to find out if we’re a good fit. I’m also happy to make personalized recommendations for materials that you should read or explore.
You can do this!