How Couples Counseling Can Save Your Relationship
Updated February 23, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown
Are you and your partner having some trouble in your relationship? Maybe you never used to fight at all, but now it seems like that's all you do. Perhaps you aren't fighting often, but when you do, it always seems to be about the same thing, or it always seems to get heated. You don't want to end your relationship, but you're also not quite sure what to do because you just can't let it go anymore. Couples counseling could be the answer that you've been looking for.
What Is Couples Counseling?
A licensed counselor or therapist generally perform couples counseling to repair broken or strained relationships. Most frequently, the therapist is what is called a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). The frequency and duration of the appointments vary, as do the methods of resolution.
Your therapist will begin by asking a few preliminary questions to get a feel for your relationship and how he or she can help you. This interview will help determine whether there is the main issue in your relationship (i.e., infidelity, pornography addiction), or if there is a myriad of small issues (i.e., communication, disrespect.) Either way, a therapist has professional training that qualifies him or her to help you solve even the biggest of issues!
Once your therapist has all the knowledge they need, they will help you to resolve your issues, usually one at a time. A therapist can suggest exercises for your partner and yourself to do together. They can also give you "homework," such as going out for a date once a week or sitting down to have a conversation each night before bedtime.
The goal of couples counseling is to gain insight so that your therapist can give you the tools you need to have a successful relationship. Whether you need to be equipped with communication skills, problem-solving techniques, or if you simply need to break a bad habit, therapy may be right for you. Many couples who have successfully completed these programs agree that their relationship benefitted greatly from the decision to begin.
How To Know If You Need Couples Counseling
It can be difficult for some to tell if therapy is something their relationship needs. If you are experiencing more frequent arguing, consistently having issues with the same things over and over again, or you feel your emotional connection has weakened, these are all good signs that you could benefit from seeing a therapist. When it comes to choosing who is right for you, the sooner, the better, since waiting has been found to have a direct effect on the success of couples counseling
Another reason you may consider couples counseling is to tell your partner something you are not sure how to communicate or are scared to tell them. Your therapist or counselor can help guide the conversation and serve as a mediator if anger or confusion ensues. Additionally, if the news causes issues in other parts of the relationship, such as your foundation of trust, the therapist can help guide you through the process of repairing or building that backup.
Why You Can't Do It Alone
A lot of couples try to work things out on their own before they seek out couples counseling and that's fine. In fact, for many couples, it can work. But for some, it just doesn't, and there may be many reasons why you aren't talking, or they aren't. If you or they don't open up entirely, it's impossible for the two of you to resolve your problems and create a healthier and happier life together. When you're trying to do it alone, you can struggle, but sometimes adding a neutral person into the mix can help.
Some people try to bring a friend in to mediate their problems and act as a neutral third party. Sometimes this works too, but often it can lead to difficulties in the friendship. You start to feel like your friend is taking their side over yours or it becomes awkward talking to your friend after you and your partner have resolved your differences. That's why it's generally better to pick a truly neutral third party, a therapist to facilitate couples counseling sessions They have no interest in one side or the other of your argument, and they have a completely outside view of what's going on, which makes it easier for them to help you.
It is true that many sign up for therapy to save their marriage, but this, unfortunately, can't always be the outcome. In some cases, a couple's therapy might lead to the relationship ending or divorce. This is not because the couples counseling is unsuccessful, but rather the opposite. In some cases, when a relationship is unhealthy or just past the point of saving, the couple's therapy can work by giving the couple the confidence and strength to end the relationship.
It's Important To Take It Seriously
If you are simply going to therapy because your spouse or partner wants to, or just to say "you tried," chances are you aren't going to be successful. While it may be easy to talk to someone about your problems, if there is no follow-through at home, little will change to help you or your relationship. It is important that when your therapist gives you an exercise to do together between couples counseling sessions or advice on how to handle certain situations that you follow those instructions to maximize your relationship's success.
When you put your 100% effort into therapy, the benefits can be very great. Many couples report higher understanding of one another's problems along with enhanced ability to communicate. Additionally, when couples counseling sessions are taken full advantage of, it goes to prove you care for one another enough to do just about anything to try to save your relationship.
On the other hand, if your partner is causing you intentional physical or emotional harm, couple's counseling may not be right for you. Criminal activity is best handled by the appropriate authorities such as your local police department. The notion that a couple's therapy will help someone abusive to stop their ways may sound right, but this is not the type of counseling for that.
Overcoming The Stigma Around Couples Counseling
Many couples worry about beginning couple's therapy since there is a negative stigma surrounding it in many communities. There are many common misconceptions, such as the notion that going to therapy makes you weak or means you don't love one another. This couldn't be further from the truth since going to therapy means you are willing to do just about anything to make your relationship work.
Another fear couples have a fear of being seen as dysfunctional by their friends and family. While in some cases, this may be true; the goal of going to therapy should be to resolve this problem. For this reason, you should be proud to attend therapy with your partner as you can count on less stressful day-to-day and also look forward to sunnier days ahead.
Expect It To Be A Little Uncomfortable
Letting a stranger in on the most intimate details of your relationship can be very intimidating. Once you add in common subjects of couple's therapy such as sex and money, it can get even more uncomfortable. The best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship is to remain as transparent as you can regarding these things.
Even though these may seem like arbitrary things to speak to your therapist about, these issues are among the top reasons couples across the world split up. Even if you don't realize it, many frustrations that stem from sex and money can cross over into other areas of your life. It is important to take a magnifying glass to almost every aspect of your relationship so that you can get the full advantage of the therapy sessions.
When you start seeing a therapist for couples counseling, they're going to help you look at not just what your partner is doing that's driving you crazy or causing problems in your relationship (which might be what you're thinking). They will also look at what you're doing that's driving them crazy and causing problems in your relationship (which is what they're thinking). If both of you are only thinking the other person is at fault, it's impossible to fix anything. But your therapist will help you to look at both sides of the issue.
They're also going to help you look at how the issue came about and what it can lead to. By talking honestly and openly, like you'll be encouraged to do in counseling, you'll be better able to resolve the problems. Hopefully, you'll be able to entirely resolve them, instead of just fixing them temporarily. You'll also be able to develop new skills for next time the two of you have a fight or a problem so that you know how to handle it better and maybe won't need counseling again.
If you're not sure where to look for a counselor, you can find them right online. Even better, you can talk to your counselor right online too. With ReGain, you can find someone that you and your partner feel comfortable with, and you can start working with them right from the comfort of your home. That makes it a whole lot easier to keep your appointments and a lot easier to feel comfortable talking about anything and everything. You and your partner can save your relationship, but it's going to require you to start getting the help that you need and focusing on your future together.
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