Many relationships, be it a married couple or a couple who has been together for a long time, fail. Often, this is because there were problems in the relationship that were ignored, brushed off, or not handled correctly. This can cause the relationship to fail and the fallout to be enormous. If your relationship is in trouble, or even if it's fine, but there may be a few kinks, couple's therapy can help fix many of your relationship issues and put the fire back in your relationship. Here are just a few reasons why couple's therapy can benefit you.
Miscommunications can tear apart a relationship. Even though the two of you are joined at the hip, you both have your way of communicating. Sometimes, you may think you communicated your point, and then it turns out that the partner didn't understand what you meant.
For example, let's look at chores. You ask your partner to do the laundry. You want them to do it now, but your partner interprets that as "do the laundry within the next few hours." When you find out your partner hasn't done the laundry yet, you may become angry, and your partner may become defensive, as they did mean to do it.
Even minor miscommunications can wear at your relationship. By figuring out why the miscommunications happen, a therapist can help you stop them and communicate in a way that is understandable to you both.
Sometimes, the problems come because of a lack of communication. Some couples do not communicate with each other often. Maybe they are tired from work. Perhaps they feel like there's nothing to say. You may feel like this is harmless, but it may lead to the couple drifting apart.
The lack of communication can also end up causing suppressed emotions. There may be a habit that your partner does that drives you mad. Anything from a quirk such as not cleaning up after themselves to something they say that offends you. You may ignore it to keep the peace, but your annoyance bottles up until you can't take it anymore. You explode, and the relationship is damaged because of it.
A counselor can help both couples express themselves and get the communication going in a safe place.
One reason why arguments rarely end well is that of human nature. Everyone wants to be right and get the last word in. Everyone wants to escalate the argument to spite the other. Cool heads prevail, but in most fights, both heads are on fire. Neither wants to listen, but instead, show the other that they're right.
A counselor can be the mediator who helps both parties see the other's argument or points out holes in the arguments made by both parties. This can make the couple cool down and allow them to make the argument diplomatically. With most arguments, there is usually a solution that both parties can agree on. However, many are not looking for solutions, but instead ways to be right.
You're never going to be as passionate as you were when you two were young and first dating. However, you shouldn't have any passion, either. There was a reason the two of you are passionate, and by finding it, you can reignite the flame that keeps the passion going. A counselor can help you to relive why you were so attracted to your partner in the first place.
Often, the reason couples argue when they are parents is disagreements on how to raise their children. One parent may be stricter than the other, and there may be debates because of that. The answer is usually somewhere in the middle, and a therapist can help the couple find parenting solutions that both can agree on.
One of the biggest blows to a relationship is infidelity. You are supposed to be connected to your partner for life, but one of you cheated. Instead of ending the relationship, you two have decided to figure out why it happened and what can be done to prevent it next time. While infidelity is serious, a counselor can be able to resolve the issue and put it behind the couple. Even cheating is no match for the most experienced counselor.
Many relationships fail due to finances. One person may be spending their money in a way their partner doesn't approve of. There may be a change in finances that affect the relationship, such as an injury or another job. Even petty disagreements such as what kind of groceries a partner buys can blow up in each other's faces.
No one likes to talk about their finances, but you must talk about them if you want your relationship to last. A counselor can have an honest conversation about your finances and tell you how you can improve them.
In our story, we are the hero. This mentality makes it hard for us to view things from the other side. In a fight, it's hard to show empathy and look at the event from your partner's perspective. By looking at it through the lens of your partner, you may realize that there is more nuance to this argument. While your partner may not be entirely in the right, you may realize that you weren't, either. A therapist can teach you how to look at the argument from both sides.
When it comes to couple's therapy, you don't need to be married or in a relationship with someone to benefit from it. A couple's therapist may work with more relationships, including:
Therapy for couples is commonly viewed as a last resort, but that is not always the case. Think of your relationship as a car. Many car owners don't wait until their car is beaten up, leaking, and hanging by a wheel to take it into a shop. Instead, they will take their cars in for maintenance checks, where a professional can look for and fix problems before they end up costing you.
The same applies to a therapist. Even if your relationship is strong, a therapist can check for issues that can be fixed now rather than having the issue blow up in each other's face later on down the road. For example, if there's a quirk from the spouse that bothers you, you may not express your feelings about it until your emotions are at their limit. Fixing the issue now will benefit you much better in the long run.
Many relationships that are on the rocks can be fixed. However, there are always those relationships that are doomed to fail. The two of you just aren't compatible, or you just cannot reach a compromise when it comes to your differences. You may think that couple's therapy that ends in breakup means that the therapy has failed, but this isn't the case at all. The therapist can teach the two of you how to end the relationship amicably.
Untreated, your relationship could have ended in disaster. Messy divorces, custody battles, revenge, spite… there are many ways your relationship can blow up. A counselor can help fix this by having the two of you part ways on good terms and help you pick up the pieces.
If you're having relationship problems, there is no shame in talking to a therapist to have the issues resolved. Many issues can be resolved. Even if it feels like the two of you are not fixable, there may be a solution lying right under your nose. Therapy can help the two of you return to form and remember why you loved each other to begin with. Even if it does not mean your relationship is fixed, you can end your relationship gracefully rather than have it explode in both your faces.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Couples Counseling worth it?
Overall, counseling can help you improve your communication and conflict resolution skills. It can also be a cathartic outlet for your feelings about your relationships. Many de-escalation and processing techniques you learn in couples counseling can be applied to your other relationships as well. Because people generally benefit from therapy of any type, couples counseling usually results in healthier behaviors and greater confidence, even if the relationship for which you seek counseling does not last. Ultimately, couples counseling is what you make of it.
What is the success rate of couples therapy?
About 70 percent of couples who seek counseling improve their relationship. However, the type of therapy couples seek is important as well. A good couples therapist is able to identify problematic behavioral dynamics and thought patterns, then give both partners tools to overcome conflict. One highly effective type of couples therapy is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), in which each partner’s love language, communication tendencies, and intimacy needs are taken into consideration as the therapist helps them recontextualize their feelings toward each other.
What to expect at couples counseling?
Couples therapists generally begin with a joint session in which the couple can give a bit of background about their relationship. Married couples may be asked to share any financial conflicts they have, as well as general intimacy levels. Couples with children can talk to a family therapist about parenting disagreements and conflicts over values to teach their kids. Other topics include each partner’s goals for a future together, concerns about emotional support and trust, and whether or not separation or divorce is under consideration.
Moving forward, marriage counseling or couples therapy will include regular joint sessions to explore each partner’s issues. The therapist will help each partner attempt to understand the other’s point of view and adapt their behavior if necessary. The couple may also break out into individual therapy sessions to discuss private concerns. This allows each partner to process feelings and resolve thought patterns that may be affecting their relationship dynamic.
Does couples counseling work for cheating?
Every couple is different, but as long as both partners agree to participate honestly in the process, it’s possible to restore trust and intimacy even after infidelity. Relationship therapy is highly beneficial for processing negative emotions and resolving insecurities, both of which emerge in cheating situations. Sometimes, the couple is able to mutually decide it is healthier to break up. In any case, couples therapy can be a worthwhile process after cheating, and if done well, can help couples recover from infidelity. Either way, couples can benefit from therapy immensely.
Is it too late for couples counseling?
Some couples experience years of fighting and avoidance without seeking help. This constant conflict can severely impair trust, intimacy, and other ingredients of a healthy relationship. However, it is still a good idea to seek couples therapy if both partners mutually agree to participate. Counseling can help both partners clarify their goals for the relationship and unlearn some of their behavioral patterns. The most effective method is an insight-based therapy that prioritizes each partner’s emotional patterns and helps them resolve these internal conflicts so that they can renew healthy communication in their relationship. Even if the relationship does end, the empowering framework of couples therapy can help both partners move on in healthy ways and perhaps remain friends (and co-parents, if applicable).
What do you learn in couples counseling?
No matter what problems or goals you’re trying to address in couples therapy, you will learn communication techniques that de-escalate conflict and promote healthier interactions. This may include using “I” statements, re-framing negative feelings, and breaking out of thought patterns e.g. catastrophizing or black-and-white thinking. You may also gain insights into your partner’s feelings, expectations, and fears that were hard to express in the heat of the moment. These valuable skills are a major benefit from therapy. Relationship therapy provides a safe, constructive space where both you and your partner can honestly explore your feelings and find ways to resolve your conflicts.
How long is a couples therapy session?
Depending on the type of couples therapy, couples can expect to spend anywhere between 50 and 80 minutes in a counseling session. The initial session may be longer. Most couples need 12 to 15 sessions over a period of months to maximize their benefit from therapy. This gives ample time to process their feelings and work through their issues.
What to ask in couples counseling?
After you find a therapist, assemble a list of concerns and frustrations about your relationship. You can take note of specific incidents, private fears, and overall goals. In marriage and family therapy, these individual concerns are only part of the puzzle. Your counselor will guide you and your partner as you share your problems and look for common ground. You are free to ask questions of either your counselor or your partner at any time during a couples therapy session, but remember that the therapist will also ask specific questions and give you activities to guide your progress.