All relationships have their ups and downs and sometimes you need outside help when you’re in a down period. It takes some work and some courage to get to a point where you both decide you need a therapist, so if you’ve reached that point, good for you.

So let’s assume you’ve done your research and you’ve found a therapist that’s right for both of you. Let’s further assume that you both are genuine in your desire to heal. That means you’re not just going through the motions so you can say you tried when you really didn’t.

Do You And Your Partner Make Therapy Difficult? Nancy'S Counseling Corner

If you want your therapy to be effective, help your therapist help you be a success. Enter into therapy with an open mind and a hopeful heart. And try not to stay neutral with your partner during your session. In other words:

Tone down your competitiveness. If you are constantly trying to one-up your partner during your session, then your partner will respond and before you know things are escalating. You are both more interested in besting each other than working with your therapist. Make an effort to avoid being competitive; otherwise, you will likely foment hostile behavior.

Dial back your sensitivity. You are trying to uncover what is wrong so you can fix it. If your therapist does nothing but praise you and make you feel good, then you are not getting to the root of the problem. You will have to explore some unhappy truths about your behavior and your relationship and that can make you defensive. Do your best to put your sensitivity on hold so you can truly hear and understand what’s being said. Therapy will be difficult if you retreat into victim mode.

Beware of retriggering your partner. You know just the buttons to push that make your partner crazy. You might even want to prove to your therapist how sane you are and how nuts your partner is. It’s easy, because you’ve lived together long enough to know what will make him go ballistic. Resist the temptation, even if you might do this subconsciously. You want to make progress, don’t you? Keep that in mind and check your aggressive behavior (and passive aggressive behavior) at the door.

Pay attention to your therapist. There’s a reason she’s in the room. Yet if you can’t resist fighting with your partner and getting caught up in your hostilities, your therapist may as well not be there. If you want to make progress, marshal all the self-control you can muster and focus on the task at hand. Which is NOT to get another jab in against your partner. Remember your therapist is there to help you solve your problems. Give her your attention so she can do her job.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: