As a Couple Therapist, I often see couples who say that attending therapy makes them feel like they have failed in their relationship. Recently the stigma around seeing a therapist on one’s own seems to be decreasing, yet there appears to be no end in sight to the stigma about seeing a therapist for your marriage or relationship.
The truth is that we aren’t taught how to have good relationships. Parents often don’t speak to their children about this, and there is little education in schools about relationships. In fact, a Canadian survey about sex education for high school students revealed that the topic students would most like to learn more about is healthy relationships and communication.
Our society is not very supportive of relationships in other ways, too. Companies often encourage or reward employees for working long hours and responding to work emails on evenings and weekends, taking their time and energy away from personal life. Television shows and movies portray unrealistic relationships (where everything is perfect )or unhealthy relationships (where couples have poor communication skills and behaviour that would be considered stalking in real life is shown as a sign of devotion and romance). Some of the couples I work with report that they have no examples of the type of relationship they would like to have.
Given the lack of support for relationships in our society, it is little wonder that so many couples would benefit from working with a trained relationship professional. Attending couple’s therapy does not represent a failure on the part of an individual or couple. Rather, it shows that the couple has a desire to improve their relationship and is willing to get help in order to make this happen. We don’t usually feel inadequate for using an electrician to re-wire our house, or for taking our car to a mechanic, so why feel that we have failed if we go to couple therapy for a relationship tune-up?