Is It Ever Too Late For Relationship Counseling?
There is a debate among Couples Therapists whether there is such a thing as too late for Couples Counseling. Some feel that every relationship deserves a chance to get professional help and seek to explore. To understand and get help to bring back connection and love, and break down old negative cycles of interaction and resulting conflict.
I do not like to play God on this issue, but there are couples who come to see me and I can’t help but think they should have been doing this a long time ago and wondering why they did not. Why did they wait so long? I know that there are many reasons why couples wait until the relationship is in a serious threat of a break up. We all have egos and want to think we can solve our problems especially romantic ones. We also all have busy schedules, many have financial restrictions and, truthfully, good therapists are expensive for many. There are sometimes kids and work demands and responsibilities in many cases. All these are good reasons.
However, I feel that your relationship is a huge investment, especially a long, committed one and every troubled relationship deserves a shot.
That being said, there are times, I feel it is too late. Sometimes I can not even put it into words, it is my sense, that there is nothing left. In other cases there is at least one of the partners who already left the relationship and is not willing to go back. I don’t mean physically but sometimes physically and literally. Usually in this case there is so much resentment and such continuous pain, such as trust issues, etcetera, that I can not blame anyone for not wanting to open their heart again. At other times, there is a realization that a wrong choice was made or that one person really changed and the choice made years ago or because of initial romantic infatuation just does not fit any longer and it makes no sense to stay in the relationship.
I have a young man, 28 years old, who came for a first appointment this week who is five weeks from getting married and is in a serious conflict about going through with it. He and his girlfriend have been together four years during which time his career and ambition skyrocketed, while his fiancée has the same job since the day they met, has no ambition and wants to “clean and cook”. While generally there is nothing wrong with this, he is bored with the relationship, feels trapped and has had multiple affairs, feeling not ready to be monogamous. He is seriously questioning his choice for a spouse and in a way is having affairs, hoping to get caught as he does not have strength to brake off the engagement. He has an overwhelming sense of guilt and is torn. He has had a panic at every transitional stage in this relationship: moving in, getting engaged (slept with three different women when he bought a ring). This is clearly a problem.
Sometimes, for various reasons, one of the partners has seriously fallen for someone else. It is not just an affair or a distraction, it is much more. In my experience this type of a relationship is very difficult to put back together, especially if the love with the other is mutual and realistic. These situations, even if the other person is given up, eventually break up. The break has gone too far.
So my pervasive view is that do not wait too long before good Relationship Counseling. It can save your relationship or at the very worst make it clear if it is “fixable “ one or not.