A number of my Houston marital counseling clients tell me that they feel like their spouses just aren’t giving them what they need and they are unhappy, but when I try to get them to vocalize those needs, they seem unable. Often, these are people who seem to have a difficult time staying with another person – this might not even be their first time in some kind of relationship therapy.

While I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing (seeking out help is always smart when you can’t solve the problem yourself), I have come to believe that this phenomenon is part of a larger issue. It was one that was made clear to me a while back when I read a seemingly unconnected story.

In it, a man was meeting a financial planner after having gone through a series of failed “relationships” with other planners over the years. He describes how sometimes they’ve made him money and sometimes they’ve lost it, but no matter what, he’s just never happy with them. After a thoughtful moment, the planner asks him what his financial goals are – essentially, what he’s looking for in life. The man pauses for a long beat, then finally says that none of the other planners ever asked him that… and he doesn’t know.

Learn How to Talk to Each Other About Goals in Houston Marital Counseling

Hopefully, you can see what I’m getting at here. Relationship therapy is all well and good, but not if you’re treating the symptom instead of the underlying problem. When relationship dissatisfaction is coming from inside you, it stands to reason that you need to work on yourself first.

Now, this doesn’t mean that couples counseling isn’t useful. The most important thing in a situation like this is teaching both people in the relationship to actively ask each other what they want and make plans for the future. One exercise that can be helpful is to have each of you work individually and come up with where you would like to be and what you’d like to be doing in 5, 10, even 15 years.

I’ve often found in Houston marital counseling that being pulled out of the comfort zone of the relationship and having to answer a question like this by yourself makes people really think, and often the answers surprise both partners. This isn’t a bad thing, though. Rather, it gives you a jumping off point for conversations about how both of you can have the lives you want and mutually achieve your goals.

If you find yourself having difficulty talking to your partner about what you want, consider working with a professional in Houston marital counseling.