Is Couple's Therapy Right For Your Relationship?
Updated March 17, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Horn
Relationships consist of two individuals working together to maintain and celebrate their love, companionship, and the life that they built together. However, many couples find that sharing a life can have difficult times, and not all couples find it easy to maintain their relationship over time. For some couples experiencing hardships, deciding when to seek outside help may be unclear. The main rule of a successful relationship is to seek counseling or outside help as soon as a problem arises. In fact, most couples who wait too long to seek help often end up failing to reconcile their relationship. But the question for many remains, when is the right time and how does a couple know when it might be too late? Certain indicators in a relationship may clue you and your partner into when couple's therapy should be sought out. In this article, we will dive further into this topic to provide you with more insight as to when it is necessary to seek out relationship therapy for you and your significant other.
First, When Is It Not Necessary To Seek Out The Assistance Of A Counselor?
Before we start looking at signs that relationship counseling is vital, the most important question to ask is, is it necessary for my partner and me to seek out the help of a counselor? Generally, relationship therapy can be a beneficial tool for any couple as it allows you to grow and learn as your relationship does too. It can also be an extremely useful tool to make sure that no issues are left unsolved during major life changes. However, if you're a couple that doesn't have any major issues or knows how to address and resolve issues, it most likely isn't necessary for you to seek counseling.
With this in mind, not all couples know how to address and resolve issues successfully. This brings us to our next section…
Signs That You Need To Attend Relationship Therapy
For the most part, it is easy to identify some of the signs that would lead you to attend couple's therapy sessions. If you have to ask, you are most likely belong to one of the couples who would benefit most. Here are some of the most distinctive and concerning relationship problems that indicate a need for therapy.
Couples who do not fight or disagree on something are a rarity (and may not be as healthy as you think). But when fights happen constantly, or one partner treats the other negatively, there is likely something else going on in the relationship. Couples therapy can help to resolve these underlying issues and help the pair to build healthy communication practices. It will be fairly obvious if you and your partner constantly fight are not receiving anything beneficial from the relationship.
If one partner in the relationship has somehow hurt their partner throughout the relationship, it can be difficult to regain trust. For example, let's imagine that one partner has previously been unfaithful to the other, but this infidelity was a one-time event. Let's also imagine that their partner forgives them. Despite this forgiveness, there are still going to be lingering doubts that have a huge impact on communication and trust. While the couple wants to move forward with their relationship, this lack of trust can be a serious detriment in the future. For those who choose to pursue therapy, a counselor will be able to create an open discussion that can allow both partners to communicate freely about their past and present feelings and their plans for the future. By opening a channel for honest communication, couples are more likely to thrive and move forward if that is what both parties desire.
Avoidance is a common defense mechanism that many people use to avoid trouble, negativity, and conflict. If one partner is avoiding the other, it may be that they do not wish to fight or be harshly judged by their partner. Avoidance may be a last-ditch effort to save a relationship that is undergoing difficulties without actually addressing the problems head-on. It is difficult to maintain a relationship when partners skirt around issues or are not physically present for one another. Engaging in couple's therapy forces the partners to address each other directly and provides a safe space in which to do so. It will also give them valuable tools that they can use in the future to better communicate with each other and address their issues.
You See Your Partner As An Enemy (Or In A Different Light)
When a relationship first starts, you are most likely head over heels for your partner and have a great bond with them. Sometimes, this may change and two people in a relationship may feel farther apart over time. They may even look at their partner as their enemy rather than someone who they love and trust. This can further ruin the relationship over time, and partners may feel more like roommates who live together and lead separate lives rather than two people who are committed to each other. If you're feeling as though you're drifting away from your partner, it can be helpful to go to therapy to regain that sense of togetherness and resolve your issues so that you can rediscover why you fell in love with them in the first place.
A Lack Of Compromise
Your significant other is known as your partner for a reason, and that is because you are working on the relationship together. If one or both partners are unwilling to make compromises and insist that the other needs to change, there is going to be an ongoing conflict that will grow as the relationship continues. Hopefully, therapy will shed some light on why it is important that both partners seek to make sure they are both comfortable and provide you with tools to make that compromise a reality.
There's a Lack Of Appreciation, Consideration, And Excitement
The initial period during the beginning of a relationship is filled with passion and romance. Couples are very interested in each other and are not shy or slow to show each other how they feel. This type of excitement and passion doesn't have to leave the relationship over time, but it often does. As life gets busy, partners simply may not have the time or the energy to dedicate to each other as they did when they first met. This can grow into a lack of appreciation and consideration. Both partners don't think of each other as much and will simply grow comfortable just being together but won't treat each other as significant. Through therapy, a couple will be able to recover that spark and show more appreciation and consideration towards their partner so that they can reignite the relationship.
Signs Of Abuse
Many people believe that signs of abuse are easy to spot within a relationship. However, many types of abuse may not be so easy to spot or may be easy to overlook because one of the partners believes that it is normal. Beyond physical abuse, which uses violence to establish control and dominance, there are five other types of abuse, including…
- Identity or Cultural Abuse- In a relationship where one individual has a certain cultural identity that differentiates the way they live from the common culture around them, abusers will often threaten their partner by saying that they will use their culture against them (i.e. threatening to tell an LGBT community member's family and friends that they are secretly gay) or will force them to not partake in their culture (which may come in the form restricting them from observing religious rights).
- Financial Abuse- Financial abuse can often be one of the worst types of abuse as it severely restricts a partner's ability to escape the relationship. Those who engage in financial abuse will completely control another's finances or may seek to ruin their ability to financially care for themselves by taking actions such as ruining their credit or preventing them from getting jobs.
- Psychological/Mental Abuse- Psychological or mental abuse occurs when an abuser pursues a series of actions that slowly chip away at their partner's mental wellbeing until they feel that no one will believe their partner is controlling them.
- Emotional and Verbal Abuse- Emotional and verbal abuse is a type of abuse that affects an individual's mental health. With verbal abuse, the abuser will break down their partner's self-confidence until they feel that the abuser is the only person who loves them. They will use these lies and statements to isolate the person who is being abused to exercise control over them.
- Sexual Abuse- The term sexual abuse often denotes rape or other forced sexual activity, and in some cases, this is true in an abusive relationship. However, sexual abuse can also include partners who withhold sex as a means to punish their significant other for something that they have said or done. As with the other forms of abuse, this is meant as a way to control their partner and make it difficult to say no to them.
Think You Need Couples Therapy?
As you can see from the information above, there are plenty of reasons why a couple may need to seek help from a relationship counselor. If any of the previously mentioned indicators sound familiar, you and your partner may need to seek out a counselor. It's important to make sure that you do not delay because the relationship will slowly fall into a state of disrepair. However, there is hope! A large number of licensed counselors who specifically work with couples can be found online. Online counseling gives couples the freedom to choose the right therapist for them and allows them to speak with someone that is not necessarily in their area. If you are still unsure whether or not you and your partner should seek counseling, speaking with a counselor online is easy and will better help clarify your situation and the necessary course of action.