Alternatives to couples therapy
You know how it goes – you love each other, but you’re not sure if you like each other very much any more. You both want things to get back to how they were, but all you end up doing is either replaying the same arguments on repeat, or you’re sitting in separate rooms in stony silence. Both of you know you need to work on your relationship, but you really don’t want to go couples therapy. What are your alternatives? Here are some suggestions that will help get your relationship back on the right track without the need to visit a therapist or air your intimate details to a perfect stranger.
It’s a date!
When you’re filling in your calendar and diaries, put couple time in before any other commitments. Build everything else around you’re time together, rather than trying to squeeze it in after you’ve committed to work, friends nights out, sports teams etc. Go somewhere or do something that you both enjoy and engage with each other meaningfully. Dance lessons are good, bowling is good, moshing out at a rock concert – not so good. You need to be able to talk and enjoy each other’s company and conversation without struggling to be heard. Try to avoid putting too much pressure on your first few dates – an intimate meal in a quiet fancy restaurant might be just too much pressure. We’ve all sat in silence desperately reaching for something interesting to say – the silence can be suffocating! Make sure that you commit to the dates over a long period of time: you need to have something to look forward to.
Keep it clean!
When you’ve got a tricky subject to discuss (or an argument to have!), try to keep bad language and insults out of it, and be specific. When our blood is up, it’s all to easy to unleash a torrent of generic abuse on to out partner, because we all know it’s never just the wet towels on the floor, or the dirty dishes in the sink, or the beer cans on the counter top. There is a real danger that a simple, reasonable complaint turns into a full on character assassination, where all bets are off. Your partner will probably retaliate in a similar fashion, or be so hurt that they leave. Your initial point will be lost and you’ll both end up simmering with rage, further apart than ever. So, keep it clean and be specific – if you wouldn’t say it to a work colleague, don’t say it to the person you love.
Find the good stuff
All to often, we focus on the bad things that our partners do, compiling a mental check list of all their crimes against relationships. How many time have you heard or said,”and another thing…”? Instead of saving up the bad things, try to find the good stuff, the things that you’re partner does every day that show they care. Do they defrost your car? Charge your phone? Restock your favourite cereal? Make sure you do something every day to show the good stuff in you – cook breakfast, put a note in their lunchbox, send a smiley text for no particular reason. If you look for the good, you will find it, and it will start to overshadow the bad.
There are so many relationship books on the market today that you’re bound to find one that you can both relate to. Share the book together (reading to some one is very intimate and sensual) and work through the chapters with your relationship in mind. Stay open minded and avoid blame this just make one partner defensive so that they start looking for points to score back. If the book isn’t working for you, find another one – this isn’t meant to be a chore, nobody needs more chores! If you really can’t face working through a relationship book together, try to find a book of any genre that you both enjoy. It is a lovely thing to read together and discuss a book, made even more special if you’re lying in a park or at the beach, or in a warm coffee shop on a rainy day.