Are you and your partner in trouble? Have you lost that lovin feelin? We understand that stress hurts both you and your partner. Relationship stress negatively affects your mental and physical health. Conflict in your home also hurts your kids and causes unwanted childhood trauma. Your love life matters to your overall wellbeing. Couples counseling can be a helpful investment of time in which you and your partner learn to recognize your negative patterns, learn better communication skills, and learn how to cope with conflict effectively.
There are many different types of couples and reasons for people to seek out couples counseling. Let’s run through some of the most common reasons people pick up the phone to get help in their relationships:
Preventative Couples Therapy
Couples counseling is often seen as a last ditch effort to save a dying relationship. However, it’s also a great preventative tool to help couples stay out of the ditch in the first place. Going to couples therapy helps you and your partner keep your relationship a priority.
The same way you prioritize your physical health with an annual check-up from your MD, going to couples therapy every now and then to strengthen your relationship skills leads to long-term emotional health.
Starting therapy before there is a major problem in your relationship is helpful to nurture your relationship and keep it going strong. Talking about the big stuff with a therapist is useful so that everyone is on the same page going forward. We’re all constantly changing, therefore your relationship is constantly changing as well. Learning to grow old together is a skill that can be strengthened, honed, and taught by a skilled couples counselor. Setting yourselves up for a healthy future together is a wonderful use of couples therapy. Happy couples can and should go to therapy.
Similar to preventative therapy, premarital counseling offers you and your future spouse time to address issues that you’ll inevitably face in your marriage. Once you’ve done the work you’ll be able to come to some sort of mutual compromise if there is a difference of opinion. Learning how to keep your love and desire alive is important for newlyweds. Staying on the same road is sometimes difficult when one person wants to branch off to pursue their own individual life goals.
Preparing for the future
Life gets busy after the wedding and you’ll inevitably deal with job changes, grief and loss, starting a family, financial struggles, and extended family conflict. We’ve all been there when cousin Charlie talks politics at the Thanksgiving table, or when Aunt Sally criticizes everything and anything. How you navigate these family challenges is important to your overall relationship happiness. Getting help from a psychotherapist leads to more tools in your toolbelt to resolve any type of conflict with your spouse in a manner that is respectful and loving.
Who does what?
Figuring out what roles you will each take on in the partnership is important to discuss before you simply fall into doing things that may later breed resentment. We’ve seen plenty of couples with one partner doing an unequal amount of household chores and/or caretaking of children. These couples later struggle to renegotiate the status quo to help ease resentment and foster a fair division of family labor.
What about kids?
Maybe you’ve already day dreamed about what your future kids will be like? We doubt those dreams included the endless sleepless nights, the hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you’ll make, or the thousands of rides you’ll give your kids once they’re actually born. Nothing tests a relationship more than parenthood. Discussing ahead of time what your parenting values are will help you when you’re knee deep in diapers and screaming at each other for no apparent reason.
How does premarital couples counseling help?
Learning how to communicate effectively, uphold your boundaries, and recognize harmful relationship patterns is important to your long term relationship harmony. Premarital counseling will teach you and your partner to deepen and strengthen your relationship.
You might be thinking that your relationship is broken for good. This is when we see a lot of couples seeking help. Perhaps your communication is broken and all you do is fight the same old fight. Maybe there’s been a breach of trust and you’re finding it hard to believe that you’ll ever trust your spouse again. Occasionally, time has a negative affect on your relationship and you feel as if you’ve just grown apart.
Here’s just a few of the issues that couples counseling is useful for.
- Conflict resolution
- Money management and financial issues
- Sex and intimacy struggles
- In-law challenges
- Addiction and codependency
- Religion differences
- Pregnancy and defining new roles
- Parenting differences
- Betrayal and Infidelity
- Bickering and arguing all the time
- Life transitions like becoming an empty nester or retirement
If you’re struggling with any of the above situations you might be feeling frustrated, sad, helpless, and/or lonely. Trying to connect with someone when you’re in conflict with them is hard. Have you ever asked yourself, “how long can I live this way?” You might look at your partner and wonder where the person you originally fell in love with went.
Every couple fights sometimes.
Relationship issues are undeniably painful and yet all too common. You’re not alone. The old cliché that we hurt the ones we love the most is true. It’s true because we are the most vulnerable with those that we love.
Love matters in these relationships, therefore when our loved one has done something that hurts us it can be really difficult to accept, forgive, and move on. It’s also really easy to take our partner for granted in a marriage or a long-term relationship. There’s nothing quite like being taken for granted to build resentment. Feeling resentment for your loved one is obviously not good. A skilled therapist helps each client understand each other’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors better. This leads to more compassion and less resentment in the future.
Couples counseling can help you and your partner find that connection you’ve been missing, problem solve together, and gain greater self-awareness to help you recognize troubling relationship patterns. It doesn’t have to be too late. If both members of the relationship are willing to try, there is hope.
You may still want to get some help ending a relationship. Therapy helps separating or newly divorced couples figure out how to live their lives apart. Figuring out how to navigate a hazy future while upholding your boundaries and dealing with inevitable conflict is tricky, it’s useful to get a professional’s help.
Couples counseling for divorcing couples can be particularly helpful for those that share children for several reasons:
- Divorce can be more civil and healthier, subsequently there’s less stress on the kids.
- Getting couples counseling while divorcing can provide a solid example of how the family can respectfully treat one another going forward.
- It can help identify areas of conflict and confusion.
- Your counselor can help teach each individual healthy coping skills to use when issues arise.
- It can provide parents with healthy tools to work out a parenting agreement that encompasses compromise and everyone can live with it.
- Counseling can help model strategies to tell the children about the divorce and assist the parents in preparing the kids for impending family changes.
Divorce counseling is also helpful for some to figure out why the marriage fell apart. Working through these issues is helpful so that you do not repeat the past in future relationships. Couples counseling is not always done with both partners in the room, often your counselor will have individual sessions with each member of the couple in order to meet the jointly stated goals of the couple.
What does couples counseling look like?
Your couples counselor is sort of like ground control, she helps guide each person in the relationship back together. The first few sessions involve a lot of questions and digging to get to the root of the problem. After that, your psychotherapist will then be able to help you identify specific goals to work on, both individually and as a couple. There might be homework or exercises to do throughout the week in which you practice the new skills you learn in therapy.
Your therapy sessions will be a safe space to discuss the hard stuff that is bothering you about your relationship, your life, your job, your family, or yourself. When I say a safe space I mean a place where there’s no judgement. A place where you have a chance to talk and be heard. In therapy a counselor will often help you reframe what you’re trying to say so that your partner can better understand your point of view. We all want to feel as if our loved one understands us, that they ‘get’ us better than anyone else.
Benefits of relationship therapy.
Going to see a therapist is one of the best investments of time and energy you can do for yourself and your relationship. Learning how to communicate with your spouse better, learning how to problem solve without repeating old arguments, and learning how to take accountability for yourself are important benefits of couples therapy.
Honestly just salvaging a relationship is not good enough, we hope to help you and your partner redefine your relationship to something brand new and even better than it was before. You will learn how to transform both yourself and your relationship for the better.
Take the next step.
We understand that it’s hard to find the right therapist, especially for couples counseling because both members of the couple have to feel comfortable with their chosen therapist. Seasons Psychotherapy Associates clinicians pride ourselves on being empathetic while letting each client tell their own story. We are confident in our ability to guide a couple to lasting change and healing, so that the relationship is able to withstand future troubles and overcome past hurts.
Pick up the phone today for your free 15 minute consultation. We look forward to speaking with you. Your love life matters and you deserve to reclaim your joy and find your connection once again.
Seasons Psychotherapy Associates offers couples counseling both online and in-person with COVID-19 safety protocols.