For a lot of couples, it’s not until the relationship has broken down so badly that couple therapy becomes the last ditch attempt to save the tattered remnants of what they once had.
It’s a common misconception that counselling is what you do when you’re at the end of the relationship. But that’s just not the case.
Coming to therapy can be like insurance for your relationship. This is especially true for those who are newly committed, or for the couple that has had significant damage to the structure of their relationship and need help putting things back together again.
The comforting thing to know is that no matter where you are in your relationship taking the time to work on things with your partner is the best investment you can make, and I’m not just talking financially.
If you can relate to any of these common relationship struggles, it could be time to consider therapy, to help you go the distance.
You’ve lost that spark
Couple therapy can be a great way to get back the spark that’s gone out of your relationship. Even if your relationship is solid, you seldom argue, and you feel reasonably content, if it’s missing that special pizazz it can lead to problems down the track. In counselling, you and your partner will take a deeper look at any underlying issues to help you discover new ways to spice things up.
You keep going around in circles
For the couple that seems to be going around and around in circles, fighting about the same old things without resolution, therapy can help put you back on track. By looking at the patterns and the triggers for certain behaviours a therapist can help you gain a greater understanding of your role in the situation and what you can do to turn things around.
You find it hard to communicate
Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen on its own. In therapy, both partners are encouraged to express themselves openly and honestly in a safe and supported environment. Both partners are given the opportunity to say the things they’ve either never felt confident enough to express, were too scared to express, or have expressed a lot, but never felt heard.
You’d rather watch The Bachelor than have sex
It’s normal for a couple’s sex life to taper off a little after they’ve been together for a while. It’s also normal to have periods when you’re just physically too exhausted to be intimate. However, if this becomes a pattern it could be a sign that something more is going on. There may be unresolved anger as a result of not dealing with issues when they come up. A trained couples therapist can help you deal with any underlying issues and unresolved anger so you can move on and get back to enjoying each other again.
You treat people at work better than your partner
If your partner doesn’t feel like the closest person to you, then it’s time to look at the underlying reasons why. Is your partner fulfilling your needs? Do you spend enough quality time together? If not, why not? A therapist will help you work through the issues, identify areas that are lacking in your relationship, and offer useful tools and strategies to help strengthen the bond between you.
To get what you really want out of your relationship, you’re going to have to stretch your understanding of yourself, your partner and the relationship. A good therapist will give you and your partner the tools you need for better communication and will help you put strategies in place to prevent issues or avoid further damage.
Yes, that’s all well and good, but do we REALLY need Couple therapy?
You might be ready and willing to do the work, but what if your partner isn’t? It’s not unusual for one partner to resist coming to therapy. They might believe the relationship isn’t “that bad”. Perhaps they feel they can, or should be able to, sort things out for themselves. But a big one for a lot of people is they don’t want a total stranger pointing out what’s ‘wrong’ with them.
Fortunately, this is not how us therapists do things. We work together with you to identify toxic patterns of behaviour, and show you how to make changes for a more sustainable, healthier relationship.
There is no danger in change, but it can be scary. This is why going to couple therapy, is a safe option for both of you. Perhaps you’ve discussed ways that you can respond differently or communicate better, only to find that after a short period of time, things are back to where they were before.
If the issues between the two of you are deep enough then your own well-intentioned efforts to change behaviour may not be enough. In therapy, a certain pressure is taken off your shoulders. An opportunity to discover a deeper level of understanding is given, allowing an opportunity for real and lasting change.
If you’re still unsure if you need couple counselling, take my relationship quiz and discover if there are any areas in your relationship that might need work.