partner-puzzleMaking a decision to work with a therapist and improve, (or save), an important relationship, calls on all parties to pledge their commitment to the process.

First and foremost, it is a commitment by and between oneself and one’s partner — to engage together in the treatment plan. 1 + 1 = one relationship. And the therapist makes three! For this model to be successful, personal and relationship growth have to be prioritized.

Some individuals, as well as couples, do a lot of therapy shopping to find a good fit (a fine idea). Some others shop for a therapist who is the least expensive—usually a costly mistake. Yes, you typically will get exactly what you pay for. So you owe it to yourself and your partner to ask: Is an investment in our relationship worth the money to help it prosper? Isn’t investing in our relationship more important than beer and pizza, or an expensive vacation?

There are couples who buy expensive cars or take lavish vacations, but are unwilling to invest the time, effort and/or money needed to understand the people who ride in the car or share the vacation. Where are their priorities? What is it that is being valued?  All too often, things get in the way of genuine intimacy.

I often get calls from one partner stating that they want to come in, but their partner refuses to cooperate. Some couples have let their relationship go far too long before addressing issues. By then, one or both may have little interest in repairing the relationship, or the procrastination has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For these couples, a divorce attorney may be the last resort. Life is too short to accept this kind of surrender.

I am a believer that both people in a relationship have to agree if they are to seek help together. Sometimes I start with one person, and then the other eventually agrees to come in too. Whatever it takes, problems are not going to get solved without appropriate and confidential counseling on both sides.

Therapists hear a lot of excuses for couples not making the commitment. They don’t want to spend the money, they claim not to have the money (this is sometimes true, but why not borrow the money?), they are too busy with work and children, or their social life is more important than getting help for a troubled relationship. Getting past this first hurdle can be a vital sign of progress in and of itself.

Often one person desires immediate help and the partner finds excuses not to get help. Sometimes a couple comes in a year after their initial contact, often after there is too much time elapsed. I believe some relationships that have failed could have been saved if the couple had come in earlier, before the summer fruit has withered on the fall vine, and been buried in four feet of winter snow. What are couples waiting for—Godot?

When resentments build up, and when a sex life dimly fades into the distant past, it is harder to fix everything. This does not mean it cannot be done, but why wait? Why not value intimacy and connection enough to improve relationships in the present?

If your car is not running right, you don’t want to wait until it breaks to fix it. Breakdowns are not fun and can be expensive. Same with fixing a relationship! Why wait until it breaks down? Why not get the help you need now?

Can a real commitment put divorce attorneys out of business? See for yourself. It all comes down to what you value. My hope is that my couples will value a commitment to rekindle their intimacy!