Are you considering couples counseling? If so, read this first.

This story is about a client we’ll call Dave.

Dave and his wife, Emily, have had some major issues for the last 5 yrs. They don’t talk about anything beyond the kids and work. They are sleeping separately on most nights with Dave on the couch.

Emily says she is “so done” with talking about what’s wrong all the time. Dave gets pissed easily at her and the kids. The arguments never end.

There is lots of eye rolling, snide remarks, and defensiveness on both sides.

Sex? Seriously? It’s been 10 months and counting.

Couples Counseling! What a Great Idea! Right?

Ummm…maybe not.

There is nothing wrong whatsoever with high quality counseling.

However, in this case I would recommend they each go alone.

The current lack of respect, trust, and emotional safety in their marriage is the most important problem to fix first.

And couples who have completely lost these things AND the ability to communicate about them can drag even the most seasoned counselor down into a hellish muck-hole of hopelessness.

In this case, Dave and/or Emily will already be insecure enough to feel like the counselor is taking sides or beating up on them.

The most professional, talented, and fair counselors I know must remind couples that sometimes they have call things as they see them. Sometimes this means telling Dave he’s being a real dick and informing Emily that she over-reacts.

It can really throw a wrench in the process when your spouse is laughing and pointing at you during a counseling session.

It’s especially hard when Dave and Emily have already been treating each other like that. The counselor doesn’t stand a chance.

The TWO BIG Troubles With Couples Counseling

These two big troubles actually have nothing to do with the counselor.

These are all about Dave and Emily.

When a relationship reaches this level of unhealthy, destructive behavior, the last thing each party needs is another reason to find blame.

That’s the FIRST big trouble.

Dave and Emily are JUST DYING to hear someone else tell the other what’s WRONG with them.

And that leads directly to the SECOND big trouble.

It is IMPOSSIBLE for Dave and Emily to see their OWN TRUTH in the marriage when they are focused on what’s wrong with the other.

It is really this simple.

Anyone who wants to fix their relationship by focusing on what is wrong with their partner will fail. Every single time.

I’m not saying they don’t have issues. I’m just saying that focusing on their issues will accomplish nothing.

If Dave believes all would be peachy if Emily just quit over-reacting, he is wrong.

And if Emily thinks life would be grand if Dave just stopped being a dick, she is wrong.

But these are the “solutions” many couples are looking for in couples counseling.

So What Then?

Here is some “woo-woo” stuff for you.

Every unhealthy and destructive behavior you see in your spouse is a reflection of the energy you are giving to the relationship.

Does this mean everything is your fault? Heck no. It just means that if you want to have any prayer of fixing your relationship you will need to turn your focus to yourself.

The things Dave needs to fix are inside him. It may already be too late for his marriage. But he won’t know until he takes the first step of showing Emily he understands his part and is committed to personal change. Same for Emily.

What if it’s too late? I know. It’s sad to think about.

Even so, they need to fix these things for their NEXT relationship!

THIS is where a personal counselor or coach can make a TREMENDOUS difference in your life. Pick someone you know, like, and trust. Pick someone you respect enough to hold you accountable.

It is the very safest place to get REAL about the crap you’ve been thinking, saying, and doing which has been reflected back into your face. I’ve personally had to wipe a lot of that crap off my own face. So, I get it.

Choosing to go solo takes courage. Discovering that you’ve had the power all along to improve your relationship is scary.

A man or woman needs the “cohones” to say,

“Screw this. I can be and will be a better partner in this relationship. It’s the only way I want to live. It’s the only way I will ever find out if we can have the relationship we THOUGHT we would have.”

You never know until you try. This is an actual email I got tonight from Dave (not his real name) about his choice to be courageous over the last month.

“During my first phone call with Steve I was in tears at some moments about my relationship and general emotional status. However, on that call I also felt really comforted by the possibilities of working toward being a better man and getting my woman back.

I just finished my 4th meeting with Steve… I’m not yet fully back with this woman that I love, but I am now calm, confident, and actually looking forward to diffusing any and all potential situations that might arise when I interact with her.

I’m enjoying my life for myself and enjoying the time that I spend with her. Reaching out to Steve and other men is a great step toward being the man you want to be for yourself and all those surrounding you.” Josh – New Orleans

This email came from Emily (not her real name) last month:

I was not sure a “man’s coach” could help me overcome some long-standing fear and personal blocks. After talking with Steve initially, it seemed worth a try.

Over three intense sessions of understanding my problem (me), Steve provided resources and role-plays on how to get out of my own way. He gave tools to understand my gifts in a relationship, as well as confidence in making commitments and embracing a loving relationship.

Steve leads by example for giving “your gifts” and commitment to whatever you’re doing. He showed up fully at our appointments and packed them full of useful tools, laser-focused feedback and a hardy dose of encouragement to get it right. He is gifted and knowledgeable on relationship challenges – including the feminine side! Deanna – Fort Collins

Grab your “cohones” a shoot me an email. It’s time to talk.