By Dr. Melissa Estavillo
One of the biggest questions and concerns that couples face when entering counseling is “Should we break up or divorce?” Sometimes the fear that the answer could be “yes” is enough to keep us from even attending counseling.
But, the answer to the question is usually, “No.”
This may sound too simple, or optimistic at best. But my experience has shown me that motivated couples who truly desire to stay together often times are able to do so—with just a little bit of help.
When we look back on our relationship history, most people paint a romantic picture of love, connection, and happy bliss. Then something happens, or a lot of somethings happen, and they begin to question their first thoughts. “Are we really compatible?” “Were we ever really meant to be together?” “Can I really handle him not putting his dishes in the dishwasher for the REST OF MY LIFE?” And so begins the dance of separation, hurt, and defensive responses.
Hurt does not often bring out the best in us. Our quick whit and simple charm are traded in for attacks, name calling, and stone cold indifference. Couples and marriages can get so deeply intrenched in these patterns, it may seem next to impossible to stop. Dr. John Gotten, one of the best marriage researchers of our time, would tell you that these traits are the most likely predictors of divorce. And that’s true.
But that’s where we come in.
Couples counseling and marriage counseling is not about us refereeing the arguments; it’s not about us deciding who is right and who is wrong. Instead, it’s about finding the way to break the pattern of hurt and find your way back to each other. It may seem crazy, but a good session leaves both people feeling heard, validated, right, and together as a team. You both win the fight. And you both decide that staying together is in your future.
So before you make the decision to break up, consider counseling as an alternative. It may just be the tool help you fall back in love again.
Dr. Melissa Estavillo is a Licensed Psychologist and founder of Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. With over 7 years of experience, she specializes in both individual and couples therapy in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques stemming from Emotionally Focused Theory, Psychodynamic Theory and Other Evidence Based Practices to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.