There are a lot of misconceptions attached to marriage counseling or other forms of couples therapy. Conversations about this kind of counseling often come with the assumption that something is wrong with the relationship or something needs to be fixed. This can create a lot of unnecessary stress, or lead to destructive arguments.
Couples therapy is not (necessarily) about fixing relationships that have serious problems. This form of psychotherapy simply offers a committed and intentional way to develop healthy goals with your partner and to better understand and relate to one another. Most people do seek couples counseling when they are having trouble. But, in theory, the best form of couples counseling is preemptive – it is actually at its absolute best to have a relationship therapist before there are any obvious issues that need to be dealt with. This is the best way to make sure that when there are troubles, you and your partner are prepared to face whatever may come your way together.
Of course, couples counseling is far more common among those who feel they’re having trouble as a couple, and relationships can thrive with this type of counseling as well. But understanding that couples counseling is not *just* for those on the verge of divorce is an important step towards helping promote treatment.
Signs You Should Consider Couples Counseling
Marriage counseling and couples therapy should often be a proactive choice rather than reactive. Making the decision to invest in the communication and empathy skills of your relationship can help you mitigate problems before they have developed into subconscious behaviors.
Just as there is no shame in therapy for depression, anxiety, or other conditions, there is no shame in getting therapy for your relationship. It can only benefit both of you. If you are still worried about your relationship needing therapy however, here are some signs you can look for to see if maybe you have a need for couples counseling:
- Communication Has Broken Down – A relationship needs to be built upon a foundation of solid communication. If you’re not able to accurately communicate your emotions or your needs to your partner, they are not going to be able to respond to you with the support you need. To the same point, if you do not understand where your partner is coming from when they are trying to explain their frustrations or desires, it can be next to impossible for you to be there for them in the way that they need. If you’re noticing undue criticism, or an increase in your partner’s defensiveness whenever a topic is approached, therapy can be a great way to break those walls down naturally and facilitate clear communication once again.
- Arguments Create Destruction Instead of Solutions – An argument should never be you versus your partner. The best-case scenario for any argument is a couple finding a solution to a current problem together, and then implementing that answer into their relationship. If you are finding your arguments are ending without a helpful resolution, or if they are becoming destructive, this is a good sign to seek couples therapy. Conflict is going to exist in any relationship, it cannot be avoided. That’s why it is so important for couples to know how to argue effectively, rather than make things worse.
- Trust Has Been Broken – Trust is a crucial part in any relationship, not even just one related to a romantic partner. Once trust is broken, it can take a lot of work to build that back up again. This can happen for various different reasons, ranging from little lies to infidelity. If the trust has been damaged in your relationship, this is a situation in which a therapist can be incredibly beneficial. A couples counselor has the education and skills to help both partners understand what caused the break in trust and develop a plan to rebuild that quality again.
- A Growing Lack of Passion or Intimacy – Couples therapists are also well-versed in the topics of intimacy. While it can sometimes feel uncomfortable to discuss these issues with a third party if you are experiencing a lack of connection with your partner, or if there is a sense that the passion is beginning to fade, asking for counseling in this area can often be a great step towards recreating that “spark”.
- The Relationship Has Gone Through a Traumatic Life Event – Therapy is not always about issues between you and your partner. Traumatic events can often disrupt a dynamic or relationship without either partner realizing it. Financial issues, major life changes, a death in the family, or a personal health crisis are all different examples of events that can upset the balance of a relationship. Finding healthy coping mechanisms with a therapist alongside your partner can be a fantastic way to build a stronger relationship through troubling times.
Every relationship can benefit from an educated therapist who is able to support your relationship and understand what you both need to succeed together. Developing strategies for healthy communication and creating therapy treatments to eliminate unhealthy behaviors from your relationship can help you build a stronger foundation and future at the same time.