3 Ways to Know it’s Time to Try Couples Therapy
In my work with couples, I’ve noticed that many come after spending years at each other’s throats or years growing further and further apart. Sometimes by the time I hear from them they’re at the brink of separation or divorce, strung out, depressed and not their best selves. I wish I could go back in time to gently remind these couples that couples therapy can actually be preventative, a wise investment in your future. You don’t have to wait until you’ve got your exit strategy planned and bags packed to reach out for therapy. That being said, it’s also OK if you did wait and now you want to make one last effort to save the relationship or marriage. Maybe you just weren’t ready until now. We all have our own process.
Here’s 3 signs that you may want to consider couples therapy sooner rather than later.
Your gut says it’s time.
Your internal warning bell may be letting you know that your relationship has changed in some way. Or problematic patterns that were always there are no longer working for you. When you slow down and listen to your intuition, you probably know a lot that your conscious mind isn’t even always aware of. Take some deep breaths, and let your mind wander to your relationship. Notice what feelings you have in your body. Do you feel relaxed, at ease? Or do you notice some tension or discomfort? Where do you feel that discomfort? What is it telling you? Sit quietly and just let the answer come from your own internal knowing. Usually, when something isn’t totally right in our relationship, if we slow down and check in with ourselves, we know this on a deep level. Your intuition is your friend.
You keep having the same fight over and over and nothing feels resolved.
You’re just getting more and more frustrated with each other and feeling stuck. You want to feel heard and understood, but you’re feeling judged and alone. All couples have perpetual issues (The Gottmans, well-known relationship researchers, estimate that about 69% of couples issues are not solvable!) But the key is being able to talk about the unsolveable issues and come to a place of understanding, acceptance and love. If you’re having trouble getting to that place, there may be negative communication patterns or other challenges getting in the way. Couples therapy can help you understand what’s causing you both to feel stuck and work through that so that you once again feel hopeful and heard.
You’ve avoided talking about tough issues and now you’re feeling distant and disconnected.
Maybe you and your partner tend to be conflict-avoidant types who like to keep the other person happy by never bringing up what’s bothering them. This can work for some couples, but if there’s never any conflict that’s a sign that problems are being swept under the rug that will eventually cause distance and disconnect. Some conflict is necessary in relationships for us to really understand and feel close to each other. The good news is that you and your partner can become closer again if you’re willing to talk more honestly and openly about your feelings, even the scratchy ones. Couples therapy can help with that.
Here’s a bonus reason to seek couples therapy: You already have an awesome relationship and you want an even more awesome relationship. For example, you may have just gotten engaged. Couples therapy at this stage can be preventative, fun and useful; you can explore your strengths and challenges, get tools for continuing to grow and learn together, and feel more confident moving into the next phase of your relationship.
Stay tuned next week for 3 reasons not to seek couples therapy.
If you’re interested in learning more about how I work with couples or you think we could be a good fit, feel free to reach out by scheduling a free consult, emailing me through this website or calling me at (585) 294-4776.