When should I seek couples counseling?
No marriage or partnership is going to be perfect. We all stumble here and there throughout life, and it’s normal and natural for our intimate relationships to be impacted by the stress of outside hardships. It’s also normal for significant changes in life circumstances (even positive changes, such as moving in together or tying the knot) to cause significant stress, which can lead to a sudden influx in disagreements between you and your significant other.
You might find yourself wondering, “If all of this is so normal, how do I know when to seek couples counseling?” You’re not as alone as you might feel; many of us struggle to determine how much relationship dissonance is normal. While couples counseling can be beneficial to even the healthiest relationships, here are a few signs that it’s time to get a relationship check-up:
When communication has become negative. In the past, you and your partner have resolved conflict through careful reflection and patient conversation. If your communication style has since deteriorated and now leaves one or both of you feeling depressed, insecure, or disrespected, it might help to work with a counselor who can work with you and your partner to establish healthy communication techniques and behaviors.
When you are staying together “for the sake of the children.” We think this is a great time to involve an objective third party. Many times, couples agree to stay together for the children because they don’t want to do harm. Sometimes, however, staying together unhappily can be more damaging to the child than separation. A therapist can help you to decide what is best for your family, and can also possibly guide your relationship to a healthier place.
When separation feels like the only solution. It’s often true that taking a break from an argument can improve the situation by giving both partners time alone to find clarity. In some relationships, breaks that once lasted five minutes morph into long nights away from home. When this happens, taking a break is no longer effective: when you or your partner return from a long absence, the problem is often left unresolved and continues to fester. A skilled therapist can help you and your partner identify healthier ways to resolve disagreements.
When it feels like you’re just roommates. Your relationship isn’t in jeopardy if you aren’t doing everything together – that’s normal. But if there comes a point where you feel that you are merely occupying the same space rather than behaving like a loving intimate couple, it’s often a sign that your relationship is in need of a little TLC. This usually happens because intimacy, communication, conversation, or other important elements to the relationship are lacking. A couples counselor can help you to revitalize the important parts of your relationship.
When one partner has an affair. Infidelity is extremely harmful to a relationship and can be difficult to recover from, but we believe that it’s possible if both partners are committed to healing the relationship. Repairing your relationship after an affair requires the willingness to forgive and move forward on a positive path. If both partners are committed to and honest throughout the process, it is possible to salvage the relationship.
These are just a few reasons that you and your partner might want to consider couples counseling, but as we mentioned previously, they certainly aren’t the only reasons! Many happy, healthy couples seek counseling simply because it fosters continuous improvement. Through relationship counseling, you can uncover many valuable tools such as positive communication techniques, healthy ways to show love or address problems, tips for expressing yourselves emotionally, and more.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with one of our therapists, contact our intake coordinator Jennifer at (541)-868-2004.