How Couples Counseling Can Save Your Relationship

Medically reviewed by April Justice
Updated May 8, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

During couples counseling, you and your partner will generally work together with a licensed marriage and family therapist to confront any issues in your relationship and grow stronger as a couple. While some couples may try to work through their issues alone, this can present various challenges that can be solved by working with a professional instead. It can be crucial to make an effort in couples counseling in order for it to be effective; if both partners aren’t fully invested, they may not get the results they’re hoping for. Although couples counseling may feel uncomfortable at times, it can be worth it as it can help your relationship grow happier and healthier. You may attend couples counseling in person or online.

What Is Couples Counseling?

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A licensed counselor or therapist generally performs 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 can vary, as can the methods of resolution.

Your therapist may begin by asking a few preliminary questions to get a feel for your relationship and how they can help you. This interview may determine whether there is a main issue in your relationship (i.e., infidelity, trust issues) or if there are a myriad of small issues (i.e., ineffective communication, disrespect.) Either way, a therapist generally has professional training that qualifies them to help you solve even the biggest issues!

Once your therapist has all the knowledge they need, they will normally help you work through your issues, usually one at a time. A therapist can suggest exercises for you and your partner 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.

Couples counseling generally aims 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 need to break a bad habit, therapy may be right for you. Many couples who have completed these programs agree that their relationships benefited greatly from the decision to get started.

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 frequent arguments, consistently having issues with the same things repeatedly, or feel your emotional connection has weakened, these can all be good signs that you could benefit from seeing a therapist. 

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 can 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 guide you through the process of repairing or building that back up.

Why It Can Be Challenging To Do It Alone

Many couples try to work things out on their own before they seek out couples counseling, and that can work in some cases. However, not all couples may have the tools they need to work through their problems on their own. If you or your partner doesn’t open up entirely, the two of you may not be able to resolve your problems and create a healthier and happier life together. When you’re trying to do it alone, you may struggle, but sometimes, adding a neutral party into the mix can help.

Some people try to bring a friend in to mediate their problems and act as a neutral observer. Sometimes, this can work, but often, it can lead to difficulties in the friendship. You may start to feel like your friend is taking your partner’s side over yours, or it may become awkward talking to your friend after you and your partner have shared so much personal details with them. That’s why it’s generally better to pick a truly neutral observer, a therapist, to facilitate couples counseling sessions. They typically have no interest in one side or the other of your argument, and they generally have a completely unbiased view of what’s going on, which can make it easier for them to help you.

Many may sign up for therapy to save their marriage, but this may not always be the outcome. In some cases, therapy might lead to divorce. This is not necessarily because couples counseling is unsuccessful, but rather the opposite. In some cases, when a relationship is unhealthy or past the point of saving, couple’s therapy can work by giving the couple the confidence and strength to end the relationship and to do so without unnecessary conflict and contention.

It Can Be Important To Take Couples Counseling Seriously

If you are going to therapy because your spouse or partner wants you to or simply to say, “I tried,” you may not find the therapy especially helpful. While it may be easy to talk to someone about your problems, little may change to help you or your relationship if there is no follow-through at home. It can be important that when your therapist gives you an exercise to do together between couples counseling sessions or advice on handling certain situations, 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 a higher understanding of one another’s problems, along with an enhanced ability to communicate. Additionally, when you take full advantage of couples counseling sessions, it can show that you care for one another enough to do just about anything to save your relationship.

On the other hand, if your partner is causing you intentional physical or emotional harm*, couples counseling may not be right for you. Criminal activity is normally best handled by the appropriate authorities, such as your local police department. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of abuse, please know that help is available. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Overcoming The Stigma Around Couples Counseling

Many couples worry about beginning couples therapy since there can be a negative stigma surrounding it in many communities. There tend to be many common misconceptions, such as the notions that going to therapy makes you weak or that it means you don’t love one another. This couldn’t be further from the truth since going to therapy generally means you are willing to put in the effort to make your relationship work.

Another fear couples may have can be the 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 normally be to resolve the problems that may make you dysfunctional. For this reason, you may be proud to attend therapy with your partner as you can count on less stressful day-to-day life and look forward to better days ahead.

Expect Couples Counseling 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 couples therapy, such as sex and finances, it can get even more uncomfortable. The best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship may be 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 tend to be 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 can be important to take a magnifying glass to almost every aspect of your relationship so that you can get full advantage of the therapy sessions and receive helpful insights from your therapist.

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Finding A Couples Therapist Online

If you’re unsure where to look for a counselor who will meet your needs, you’ll likely be able to find the right one online. Online therapy platforms can make it simple to find someone that you and your partner feel comfortable with, and you can start working with them from home or anywhere you have a reliable internet connection. 

This study investigated the efficacy of online couples therapy in comparison to the efficacy of traditional in-person couples therapy and found that they were largely the same. Whether you prefer to meet with a licensed couples therapist in person or connect with them online, you may rest assured that you’ll receive quality care and professional guidance.

Takeaway

Couples counseling normally consists of a licensed mental health professional working with a couple to help them resolve various issues in their relationship. Sometimes, couples may attempt to manage their problems on their own, but this can be difficult, and it’s typically recommended to work with a couples therapist instead. However, it is often vital to put in plenty of effort when attending couples counseling in order to get your desired results. You may feel uncomfortable during certain parts of couples therapy, but in the end, this vulnerability can help you grow closer to your partner. You may find a couples therapist who meets your needs online or in your local area.

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