It’s very common for a relationship to have issues over time. These issues often come in the form of lack of communication, major life changes, intimacy problems, and many more.
Knowing when to start relationship counseling is not easy either, some couples don’t realize it until the relationship is already really damaged. This kind of counseling should be seen as a way to learn positive communication and conflict-resolution skills, not as a method of crisis-solving therapy.
While it doesn’t guarantee that it can solve any problem, it can be used to learn effective skills that can help you both in your relationship and in your personal life.
When to Seek Relationship Counseling
Many couples wait a lot of time to even consider seeking relationship or marriage counseling, so the moment can vary from couple to couple. However, there are many indicators that show you when it might be time to seek counseling.
Lack of Communication
This is one of the most common issues that couples face. Some people feel that their partner never listens to them, so they end up feeling ignored and unloved. Many couples don’t talk about their issues out of fear of having a fight or being open with their partner. This can make a couple grow apart over time.
Fights between couples are normal. However, ongoing discussions can mean that there is an issue that hasn’t been taken care of and it’s growing bigger and bigger as the time passes. They usually start as ‘small’ fights, but avoiding the issue and shutting out your partner can make those small fights turn into really big ones.
It’s very common for a relationship to fall into a boring routine after some time. Not finding ways of reconnecting with your partner, learning new things, or planning a project, can make your relationship fall into this category. A counselor can help you find out ways of bringing the ‘spark’ back into your relationship.
Loss of Intimacy
Both physical and emotional intimacy are a core aspect of a healthy relationship. There are many factors that can make a couple cease giving and receiving love or pleasure to each other; when this happens, one person in the relationship might look for this physical or emotional intimacy somewhere else, distancing themselves from their partner.
Big Life Changes
The loss of a loved one, starting a family, an infidelity, and many other things can make a couple go their separate ways or change the way they connect with each other.
What Happens During Couples Therapy
This can vary, because all therapists are different. Nonetheless, with most of them, first sessions include getting to know the couple and the areas of the relationship that they want to improve. Some therapists work with setting goals at short-term and long-term periods of time, some of them can assign ‘homework’ to the couples before the next session to help achieve those goals.
What Problems Can Benefit from Therapy
Seeking relationship counseling at the right time can help couples to learn how to improve communication and solve conflicts in a safe, healthy manner. Therapy can also provide tools to recognize issues early-on and work through them, improving and building trust.
Relationship counseling allows couples to openly speak about how they feel and how they can negotiate to find a solution to a problem, rather than shifting the blame from one to another.
What if One Partner Refuses to Go
Sometimes, one party in the relationship might not want to go to therapy. Although this is common, it has some workarounds. You can talk to your partner about how you feel and the benefits you might get if you both attend therapy.
If they still refuse to go, you can also get counseling on your own; working the issues from one side of the relationship can help improve your personal growth. The other partner might consider giving therapy a go if they see positive changes. You can always tell them that they can take the therapy sessions however they feel more comfortable.
How Do You Know if Your Therapist is a Good Fit
There is no quick answer, you have to actually get to know your therapist to know if they are a good fit for you. Research your therapist, and keep an eye out for the way they speak to you and their general approach to the issue, this can give you a better idea about your compatibility with your counselor.
How Long Should Therapy Last
It depends on the couple, the issues they want to work through, and the therapist. It can last a few sessions for some couples, and months of therapy for some other couples. The important thing is to being consistent with the treatment until you feel your goals have been accomplished.
While it is a hard decision to start counseling, it is one of the best options to keep a relationship as healthy as possible. Keep realistic expectations and be patient until you get positive results.