Why you don't want a "neutral third party" to help your relationship

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“We need a neutral third party” Do you, though?

We talk to a lot of people. We talk to our clients, we talk to people looking for therapy, and in our personal lives, we talk to people about what we do as marriage counselors at Inland Empire Couples Counseling. Every so often someone will say something like “we need a neutral third party to help us with our problems” or “I bet it’s hard to be a neutral third party when working with couples.” 

Getting a truly neutral third party would be like asking a stranger at the mall or grocery store to weigh in on your relationship problems, someone completely uninvested in your relationship or the outcome. 

We’re not neutral!

Our marriage counselors are pro-you! We care about what happens to you. We are invested in your happiness and success. We are not neutral. 

We’re not referees

The idea of having a neutral third party to fix your relationship presumes that all that’s needed is for someone to say definitively who is right and who is wrong. The thinking goes something like this, “If I could just have someone tell my spouse that I’m right, they will see things my way and change.” If the solution were that simple, you would have fixed your problems already. Certainly you’ve both been trying to tell each other why you’re each right, and it’s not enough. 

Sometimes a frustrated person will describe how awful their partner is, and then say to us “Don’t you agree?” While it might feel great to have that ‘neutral’ person side with you and agree that you’re right and your partner is the worst; it’s not usually what’s best for your relationship. The reality is most often that you’re both right and both wrong and that very little of that matters. What matters is that you love each other, you miss feeling connected to each other, you want to be in a relationship that works for both of you.

We are professional relationship experts

The couples therapists at Inland Empire Couples Counseling are not neutral; and we’re not referees. We are experienced, licensed professionals who specialize in relationship issues and relationship health. 

Marriage counseling is so much more than “you’re right, and you’re wrong.” It’s understanding who you are as individuals, what your goals and dreams are as a couple, and where you’re getting stuck. We get into the messy details with you and help you sort it out. We will help you create strategies that work for you and get you connected to other helping professionals when needed. We create a plan for success that’s just for you, not what generally works for some people, but something that really meets your needs.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows

As awesome as all this expert help sounds, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Many people hold on to the irrational hope that if our partner can see things from our point of view, they will change and everything will be fine. You may have been desperately trying to get your partner to wake up, to see how bad you’re hurting or how lonely you are and to change. The early work of couples therapy frequently involves helping you and your partner understand each other. And then, it’s not uncommon for couples to experience a drop in motivation, for some discouragement to set in. You realize, through experience, that understanding alone isn’t enough to help you feel more connected and more in love.

When your partner really sees how hurt you’ve been and how lonely you are and tries to change to meet your needs, you have some hard work to do too. You have to accept the changes. You might have some grief or forgiveness work to do. You might have some resentment to let go of. This is much harder than most people expect. And you might also have to hear things about yourself that are hard to hear. You will probably see how you’ve been contributing to your relationship problems or be presented with work you have to do to make solutions happen. Relationship work is hard!

We’re here for you

We don’t want to discourage you; we want to be realistic. Working on your relationship is hard and it’s also so rewarding! If you’re ready to take those first brave steps toward having the relationship you always wanted, contact us today. We can give you so much more than a “neutral third party”!