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Q. I would like to come to one of your trainings but I don't think my partner would ever agree. Can you help me?

It's very difficult being in a relationship where you see problems and your partner essentially refuses to see them or to deal with them. People who push away from counseling (and often, correspondingly, immerse themselves in their work) really, at the heart of it all, feel huge fear about becoming personally vulnerable. Unfortunately, this very same fear (a fear that is usually buried, denied or otherwise unacknowledged) is part of what contributes to difficulties in their intimate lives. And the worst part is that partners in this situation will likely have difficulty ever truly seeing themselves and how they come across to their intimate others if they don't get some kind of outside help - the very help they refuse to seek!

Sadly, it often takes a crisis of sorts to break into this defended territory. And sometimes a starving marital partner has to be the one who creates the crisis. In truth, it is up to you to change things, and some real risk and an expression of some real 'will' by you may be required to get your partner to seek help with you. The situation may come down to a choice between work-advancement and saving your marriage. The situation may come to considering the costs of seeking help versus the costs of divorce (both financial and emotional). The situation may even come down to ultimately having to face rejection and/or abandonment.

We can tell you that if the love between you is really there in your relationship, your partner will come through his resistance - if you learn how to express yourself with clarity, determination, and directness. You may be able to see some troubles your partner is having in the relationship, but right now, part of the problem in your relationship likely has to do with you not finding your voice. Speaking up about your need to seek outside help (and finding a way to be heard about it) is the first healing for you. Things will be significantly different after your partner has passed through his/her resistance but you have to find your voice before that can happen. Once your partner has learned new skills and experienced the rewards of having more feelings-awareness in your relationship, the whole issue of seeking counseling will have a different light around it. But getting over that first hurdle will not be easy in part because this lack of voice with your intimate partner has likely been part of your issue for a long time.

We obviously can't tell you there is no risk as you begin to make more of an effort to speak up for what you need but keep in mind that not speaking up and not being heard probably means that your marriage is dead-if not already, then it will be when the point arrives that your problems become undeniable and quite possibly insurmountable. So what do you have to lose by working diligently to find your true voice now? No one ever claimed that growing up and developing a real self was going to be easy.