Megan and I have had several conversations recently about couples and when they come to treatment. It is still so frustrating to us that therapy has this stigma and people avoid it until it is the very last resort. Sometimes couples come when it is too late or the damage is pretty severe. As students in school, we learned that most couples enter therapy about 6 months after problems start. Most come out of desperation. Good for them in not completely give up. However, even though they still arrive at an appointment, they have already given up. Some are contemplating the pros and cons of leaving but not really thinking about the work of repairing. And, while I applaud those who are coming out of desperation and believe that there is always hope for the couple who wants to try to repair their relationship, I give a standing ovation to the couple who comes in because they notice that small repairs are needed and who are trying to keep the daily relationship blunders in check.
How many of you take your car to get an oil change? How many of you take it in when the little sticker in your windshield tells you to? Anyone ever pushed the limit with your oil change or any car repair, for that matter, and worried that your car was going to break down?
This is descriptive of many relationships are. Many push the mileage on repairs hoping the relationship will keep chugging a long. Some relationships do chug along, but many don’t. And, even the ones that are chugging are very rewarding. Often times, people come to our office saying “I don’t really know when it got bad.” Many say, “It happened all at once!” It never happens all at once, and I would venture to guess that truthfully, each has known that things were getting bad while they were getting bad.
I would really like to have a focus in our practice on prevention. Prevention for all kinds of problems, mental health concerns, relational conflicts, AND we would really like to see people see couples therapy more of an effort in maintaining a good relationship as opposed to coming when there is no other option left. I think most couples would benefit from having a therapist “on retainer” who they can see as difficult things arise to keep their focus of their relationship in check. Coming every couple of months or more often in a given situation can help to keep a relationship going and avoid disasters.
If you are interested in doing some repair work on your relationship, let us know and we would be happy to help you get things fixed up and going smoothly again.