What would you say if I told you that, much of the time, the only part of someone’s life that they DON’T get help from a consultant on is their relationship?
Think about it. We get help from specialists for almost everything. From our cars, to our plumbing, to our retirement accounts, to our fitness, to our spirituality, to our parenting, to our healthcare…we rely on and value the input of specific, learned, trusted others.
But our relationships? Rarely. Sometimes people will get some pre-marital counseling before getting married. But people who aren’t married don’t often reach out for that. Sometimes people will seek some religious mentoring if they want to feel closer to each other. Generally, though, the first time most people start to "consult" about their relationships is when things are starting to fall apart..and then they consult with friends and family before thinking about therapy.
Why do we do that to ourselves? (I can give you an answer, but maybe I’ll save that for another day!)
Our primary intimate relationship, whether married or not, is a foundation of our stability and success. This is the person we share time and resources with, rely on, support, get supported by, laugh with, cry around, raise children with, attend cousin’s birthday parties with, fart near, retire with…this is the big one. This is THE relationship that we put a big chunk of our lives into.
We are taught, though, that once we’re partnered or married, we should know how to do it all by ourselves. We should know how to fight fairly, apologize, express our needs, share our time equitably, and achieve life balance. And if we can’t…then we’ve failed ourselves and our relationship, and sometimes even our family and our religion.
It’s only then, IF THEN, that we reach out for help. When the problems have gotten too big or the silences have gotten too long—that’s when we think, “Crap! We need to get some help!” So many times, though, the rift is such that a few half-hearted sessions of couples counseling just isn’t enough to salvage anything of the original relationship and it, unfortunately, ends.
I believe it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe receiving a relationship consultation early can do one of a number of things:
1) Keep you out of therapy. Catch those communication or conflict issues early and you may not even need counseling.
2) Get you the specific help you do need. Yes, couples need help sometimes. But maybe you need a sex therapist and not an attachment therapist. Maybe you need a financial planner and not a sex therapist. Maybe you need an attorney, but maybe you just need some enrichment exercises! A relationship consultant helps you identify your relationship’s unique needs and get you the relevant support.
3) Keep a bad situation from getting worse. Maybe the relationship is too far gone to salvage. But, a relationship consultant can tell you the hot button items AND how to address them in order to reduce the emotional and financial cost of a breakup.
A relationship consultation should be the first step for any relationship that is experiencing any issues, however big or small. It’s the quickest, most cost-effective way to get a handle on what you need and to get the personalized, specialized support to meet those needs.