How to Create Happier Relationships Through Couples Counseling Part One

Couples are often uncertain what to expect from the process of couples therapy. Most couples approach therapy with the notion that each person will describe their distress and somehow the therapist will assist them to create a happier, more functional relationship.

However, most people hope their partner will do most of the learning in problem areas.

What is soon discovered is that the therapist does not have a magic wand and one has to look within themselves to find answers to the problems within the relationship for effective healing.

Guidelines That Can Make Counseling More Effective

Experienced therapists have evolved principles, goals and objectives that give them the greatest chance for success in finding the underlying causes of the rift in the couple’s relationship. The primary role for the therapists is to help couples improve communication as well as set goals and objectives for the couple to discuss and ponder:

  • The kind of life they want to build together
  •  The kind of partner they aspire to be in order to build the kind of life and relationship they want to create.
  • Reviewing individual blocks to becoming the kind of partner they aspire to be.
  • The skills and knowledge necessary to do the above tasks.
  • A vision of the life you want to build together
  • To have a life separate from your partner because you are not joined at the hip
  • The appropriate attitudes and skills to work as a team
  • The motivation and patience to persist
  • Time to review progress. To create the relationship you really desire, there will be some difficult tradeoffs and tough choices for each person.

Important Concepts for Couples Therapy and Relationships

The following concepts can help couples identify areas of focus to work on outside the sessions. Real healing comes from the amount of work the couple is willing to put in separately and together putting into practice what was shared in session.

Attitude is Key

When it comes to improving your relationship, your attitude toward change is more important that what action to take.

Identifying what to do and how to do it is often easy to identify. The bigger challenge is why you don’t do it.

How to think differently about a problem is often more effective than just trying to figure out what action to take.

Your partner is quite limited in his/her ability to respond to you.

You are quite limited in your ability to respond to your partner.

Accepting that is a huge step into maturity.

The definite possibility exists that you have some flawed assumptions about your partner’s motives and that he/she has some flawed assumptions about yours. The problem is most of the time we don’t want to believe our assumptions are flawed.

Focus on Changing Yourself Rather than Your Partner

Couples therapy works best if you have more goals for yourself than for your partner. Problems occur when reality departs sharply from our expectations, hopes, desires and concerns. It’s human nature to try and change one’s partner instead of adjusting our expectations. This aspect of human nature is what keeps therapists in business.

How to Create Happier Relationships Through Couples Counseling Part One

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in northern Michigan who has a passion for reading, writing, music and helping others. He specializes in counseling complex family situations, substance abuse, and parenting. Steve’s counseling philosophy is holistic, approaching each issue on its own merit and evaluating influences to help overcome life’s dilemmas.


APA Reference
Greenman, S. (2015). How to Create Happier Relationships Through Couples Counseling Part One. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Nov 2015
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