Couples Counseling: When To Seek Help
Updated March 03, 2020
Reviewer Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Does your relationship seem less satisfying than it once was? Maybe you are communicating less, arguing more, spending less time together, or even avoiding one another?
Relationships can be complicated and for many people, just because they hit a rough patch, it does not mean they want to end things. There may still be love and an investment of time spent together that the couple wants to maintain. Having children and other shared endeavors can also make couples want to salvage the relationship.
One way to salvage a troubled relationship is with Couples Counseling. Some people mistakenly believe Couples Counseling is just a last-ditch effort to save a relationship that is otherwise on the brink of divorce. However, Couples Counseling can be used by any couple to improve any relationship. Learn more about all the reasons a couple may want to seek help through Couples Counseling:
When You Have Stopped Communicating, Seek Couples Counseling
Many relationships see problems when the couple has stopped communicating. This could mean that the two partners are not talking, or it could mean they talk, but there are many things they do not discuss. This might be considered talking, not necessarily communicating. When communication is poor, it can be hard to work on the relationship and improve the situation.
In Couples Counseling, a trained therapist can help you to improve your communication. They do this in a few ways. For one, they can teach couples new communication skills through activities. Also, they help couples communicate during the counseling sessions. This may allow couples to talk through previously undiscussed issues. It also lets couples practice new communication skills they can then use at home.
When You Communicate, But It Is Not Good
Another problem that can send couples to Couples Counseling is when they communicate, but it is not good. This could be more than just not discussing certain issues. It could also be saying hurtful things to another. Engaging in this type of communication will lead one or both partners to feel bad, and eventually, they may want to stop communicating to avoid those problems. In the worst cases, these negative communication patterns could become emotionally abusive, which is particularly unhealthy.
If your communication has become negative and hurtful, Couples Counseling is highly recommended. One or both partners may also benefit from Individual Counseling in this situation. This individualized counseling can help one or both partners work past anger and help one or both partners heal from the pain of the unhealthy communication that has occurred. In Couples Counseling, the partners can receive education and mediation to learn healthier ways to express themselves.
When You Are Afraid To Communicate
Sometimes in a relationship, communication is blocked by one or both partners being afraid to discuss certain matters. If those matters are not discussed, there is no way to improve or resolve them. Often couples avoid problems related to topics such as money, physical intimacy, and giving each other feedback on the things that they are annoyed by about their partner.
Couples Counseling provides a neutral space, with a trained counselor, who can mediate those difficult conversations. This can help each partner discuss more openly any issues they have been holding back on. It can allow the couple to become clearer about the issues they need to work together to deal with. This can make it easier for couples to have even difficult conversations outside of therapy too.
When The Relationship Lacks Affection, You Might Need Couples Counseling
Healthy relationships typically have affection expressed through words and physical intimacy. When relationships experience problems, often couples stop being affectionate. It can be both a symptom of the problem, and it can contribute to more problems as each partner may feel emotionally neglected. If left unaddressed, a lack of affection can fester, leading to hurt feelings, or resentment. In the worst cases, one partner may seemingly withhold affection in an attempt to punish the other partner.
When a relationship lacks affection, Couple's Counseling can help the partners to address that problem. A couple's therapist will ask questions to get a couple thinking about what may have caused the lack of affection. As they find the core problems, the couples counselor can help the couple to move past those issues. The couple may also be asked to identify the ways they prefer to give and receive affection. They may be asked to engage in certain activities outside of the session to increase displays of affection.
When Couples Feel Like Enemies
When relationships contain a lot of arguing, couples can start to see one another as the enemy. The relationship may have a dynamic of each partner trying to be the winner of the next argument. This is an unhealthy dynamic that will be detrimental to the long-term health and success of the relationship. It is much better if couples see each other as partners, working on the same side towards common goals.
A couples counselor can help partners work through the issues that have put them at opposite sides. As the couple works through their issues, each partner may be better able to compromise, and they can stop seeing each other as enemies. Soon, they can feel like they are working together as a team to promote the success of the relationship and their joint lives together.
When There Has Been Infidelity
Certainly, when one or both partners have engaged in infidelity, that is a reason to seek Couples Counseling. Often, thinking about or having an affair may be a sign that there was already something wrong in the relationship. Frequently, the partner who looked outside the relationship for an affair was already feeling a lack of affection, emotionally neglected, or hurt in some other way.
It is best to seek Couples Counseling to improve the relationship before getting to the point of having an affair. If infidelity has occurred, then Couples Counseling may help the couple work through what happened to salvage and repair the relationship. Alternatively, if the couple determines it is best to do so, then the counseling can help the couple bring an end to the relationship and plan to move on.
When There Are Differences In Values
Couples sometimes realize during the relationship that they have major differences in values that could make it difficult to be together. Those value differences can relate to many different things, such as religious views or beliefs about how to treat money. Sometimes couples will not even realize they have a difference in these values until something happens to make the difference obvious.
When a couple faces differences in values, discussions can become contentious. It can be hard for both parties as neither wants to compromise their values, but they need to find some way also to maintain the relationship. A couple's counselor can help both parties discuss their views, in a neutral space. With that process, they may be able to find a way to make their values meet.
When You Are Living Separate Lives
Over time, some couples grow apart. This can especially happen after years of marriage as both partners are busy with work and the tasks of daily life. Having children can also change the dynamic as the couple can become more focused on being parents than being a couple. Eventually, a couple can just feel like roommates, co-existing in the same shared space with little romance or intimacy.
When a couple realizes they have been living separate lives, it can be hard to bring things back together. This is when Couples Counseling can be helpful. A couple can use the support of couples therapy to talk about where they are at and where they want to be with the relationship. The counseling process can help them rebuild their communication, intimacy, and emotional connection.
When The Couple Has Experienced A Loss
Sometimes couples can face unexpected circumstances such as infertility, pregnancy loss, or the death of a child. Those times can be very difficult for each partner, for the couple, and for the relationship. While some couples may get closer to the circumstances, others may move apart as they each experience the loss and react differently from one another.
Couples Counseling is a very good resource for couples that have experienced some loss or other significant life changes. The couples counselor can help the parties process what has happened both alone and as a couple. This can help the couple experience the situation together, even if their immediate reactions may be different. It can help to maintain and even strengthen the relationship.
When A Couple Does Not Know How To Fix It Themselves
Any time a couple faces problems and feels at a loss for how to fix the situation themselves, Couples Counseling is a good idea. Couples counselors can use their expertise to help couples sort through their problems. This often involves a lot of talking and listening; sometimes it also involves learning skills to better communicate with one another in the future. Couples Counselors can be found in many locations. Some people also choose to get counseling through online platforms, which can be more convenient.