18 Signs You Need Couples Counseling Now
Are you concerned that your relationship may need some help or a tune-up? In any case, talking with a couples counselor usually helps. A couples counselor a.k.a therapist plays the role of an objective third party that serves as a mediator. This type of intervention can help to reduce the conflict(s) in your relationship as you gain a better understanding of your responses and behaviors.
Couples counseling does not involve finger-pointing. Nor is it an emotional standoff. Rather, it is a vehicle for learning what both parties need to do to make the relationship work.
Why Do Most Couples Seek Therapy?
Most couples seek therapy for one of seven reasons:
- They have grown apart.
- They disagree on finances.
- They regularly argue or have become verbally abusive.
- They are experiencing a big change in life.
- They do not experience intimacy or feel loved.
- They don’t want to divorce or, if they do, they want the break to be amicable.
- They have cheated.
Regarding this infidelity, The AAMFT claims that in an emotional affair, the emotional intimacy is greater than that of a long-term relationship. And although internet affairs lack physical contact, they too exemplify the same type of emotional connection.
What to Expect
Your first counseling session is usually setup in a way for the therapist to understand your current situation. You will find yourself answering questions provided by the couples counselor so they can get to know you. As you continue your sessions, you will find that the therapist will become more involved. They begin to move from general questions to guided questions to identify the roots of your issues and involve you more in the process.
As you progress through your first few sessions, your counselor will begin to map an actionable timeline. This will help you to make improvements and reach specific milestones and goals. It’s important to understand that these initial goals may not always match your end goals. The therapuetic process itself works on an invidual basis to help unite each partners needs.
How long will we be in Therapy?
This is a very common and important question asked by almost everyone. The answer really is, “it depends”. While that can be a bit ambiquous, really each couple and their needs are different, so they must be treated as such.
Some couples come into therepy with minor issues and make a very concerned effort to making their relationship better immediately. They can complete therapy in just a few months. They may still continue therapy in some way as a regular routine maintenance technique wherein they meet with their therapist every few months. A great analogy to this is thinking of it like maintanence on your vehicle. You wouldn’t continue to drive your vehicle without having it’s oil changed or quick once over by a mechanic periodically right? Well that is at least if you didn’t want a break down.
Other couples may have deep rooted issues. They may have extensive issues as an indivudal or together. Those couples may seek counseling 1-2 times a week at first and continue on through counseling for a longer time. Your therapist should have a good assessment of where you stand after your intake.
Pay Attention to the Signs
Certain signs emerge when a relationship falters. Included below you will find some common reasons many chose to seek counseling for. If you find yourself experiencing the following issues or difficulties with your partner, it’s a good time to seek couples counseling.
1. Your Partner Does Not Listen.
Do you feel like your partner hears you talking but isn’t truly listening? Perhaps they zone out while you talk, or placates you with a general response? If this happens more often than not, it’s a sign that you need to set up an appointment with a couples counselor.
2. You Continually Get Stuck on the Same Issue.
Sometimes a conversation defaults to the same talking point or issue continually. This is usually an indication that there is a deeper rooted problem. Talking points, whatever they may be, should have resolution. If there isn’t, someone isn’t listening and there is conflict. With that you will find yourself in a pattern of discontent which is very harmful to all relationships. It’s a good idea to talk with a therapist to work through this for resolution and possibly deeper routed issues both individually and as a couple.
3. Your Partner Annoys You.
If you feel perturbed by your partner’s actions but really cannot say why, you need to reevaluate things in your relationship. The first sign of resentment in a relationship is usually annoyance. Resentment creeps into the picture sneakily. Addressing this problem head on and early is key to not developing a damaged relationship.
4. You or Your Partner Do Not Approve of the Other's Use of Social Media.
While some couples thrive individually on Social Media, other couples have problems using these forums. While one partner may consider social media a venue for socializing and sharing things with close friends and family, the other partner may be using social media for alternative means. This would involve things like reaching out to exes or past flings through social media platforms. Ultimately leading to the potential to create much bigger problems. Creating the boundaries is key to resolving these relatively easy yet dangerous differences.
Setting healthy boundaries includes:
- Establishing guidelines for visiting in-laws.
- Agreeing not to go through each other’s phones – maintaining privacy and trust.
- Observing a zero-tolerance rule for shouting or using obscenities.
- Having the freedom to make personal decisions and maintain friendships outside of the relationship or marriage.
- Giving each other physical space and having no tolerance for abuse or violence.
- Communicating openly about finances.
- Setting guidelines that encourage loyalty, trust, and respect.
To set one or any of these boundaries, you first need to make sure you communicate openly and clearly identify what is important for you both in your marriage and relationship.
5. Your Relationship Is Keeping You From Growing or Improving Personally.
Your relationship should operate as a support team. When you operate in this manner, you and your relationship can grow. However, when you feel limited in what you can do, it’s time to start looking at why that is. A good couples counselor will quickly identify the issues causing this. Untangling the roots that prevent you from excelling and growing individually will naturally help your relationship.
If your partner directly tries to hold you back or does not encourage you to reach your full potential, there is a deep rooted issue that needs to be resolved with professional help.
6. You Fight All the Time.
If you find the two of you cannot agree on anything, it’s difficult to resolve the conflict. You will need a therapist to help you mediate and remedy the situation effectively. By taking part in couples counseling, you can stop sparring with each other and begin leadning about each other again. This will lead you to why your arguing has gotten out of control.
Having a third party mediate these conflicts with you and your partner is key to creating a stronger and long lasting bond between the two of you. Your therapist will also provide you with the tools needed to sustain the need for fighting.
7. You Don't Fight at All.
While constant fighting or bickering is definitely not a good thing, it is still better than when you don’t fight at all. The reason being it still shows some level of care for one another. When you have a complete shutdown in the relationship, it shows that you really don’t care about the concerns of the other person or your relationship.
When individuals become indifferent towards each other, it’s important to find the underlying reason for that partners lack of concern. Otherwise, that relationship will not survive.
8. You Don't Have Sex.
Sex and intimacy serve as the glue that keeps people together in tough times. While you may go through the occasional dry spell as a couple, a continual dry spell spells relationship troubles.
By speaking to a couples counselor, you can get tips on reigniting the spark in your relationship. In a study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 47% of the 2,371 divorced respondents said that lack of a love life caused them to split.
9. One of You Has Been Unfaithful.
In a study by The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), 25% of married men and 15% of married women reported having an extramarital affair.
Affairs and infidelity can be a tough thing for any individual and relationships to overcome. The breaking of trust is a very serious thing all relationships, but that trust can be restored. Affairs or a cheating partner does not have to end your relationship, in fact when both partners are committed they can often strengthen your relationship in a way you never thought posible.
10. You Want to Save Your Marriage.
Older couples, married for several decades, who have grown apart often seek therapy first instead of a divorce in proportion to younger couples. Whether because they have a long history and have shared a lot of memories together, or because they have built up respect for each other as individuals. Older couples find counseling is a way just to rekindle their once passionate relationship. Generally, older married couples or partners who wish to reconcile often try to salvage their relationship first through couples therapy before seeking an alternative.
Younger couples can help their relationship by seeking help early on to keep that passion very much alive before it gets to this point of reconciliation. As with the example above regarding maintanence, it’s easier to keep something working rather than trying to fix something broken.
11. You Think You Might Get Married.
It never hurts to talk to a couple’s counselor if you are seriously considering marriage. Sometimes what we don’t realize is often what attracts us to each other is what drives us apart later on in life. So if you want cement your relationship with a solid foundation, scheduling therapy is a good idea. A relationship counselor will work to identifying each partners needs as individuals and how those needs can be met by the other.
It’s not uncommon for many religions to require a sort of couples counseling before they marry. This aligns with non religious based counseling showing the importance of creating that solid foundation from all fronts. Marraige is a big step in life and you need to be prepared for it to be successful. Premarital therapy is a good way to better understand your intentions and curtail any future or soon to be developing issues. It’s always good to talk things out before you tie the knot.
12. You Have Grown Apart.
Have you come to realize you have little in common with your spouse anymore? This is a good time to contact a therapist that specializes in couples. Growing apart can open the doors to more serious offenses like cheating. It’s not uncommon for this feeling of growing apart to often end in a divorce.
Counseling can re-establish your connection with your partner and help you both to grow together. You will likely find that this connection will be fruitful for your pocket book. Couples will spend less money attempting to right the wrongs in their marriage than they other wise would in filing for a divorce. So not only is there an emotional gain. Chances are you are going to save an awful lot working for what you already have vs trying to start anew.
13. The Honeymoon Phase Has Ended.
During the first phase of a relationship, or right after a couple marries, they feel like they will be happy forever. However, this wonderfully idyllic time eventually ends, leaving you a bit confused. It may take some getting used to the status quo. Most couples at this point seeking therapy are not looking to save their relationship, rather find tools to keep that feeling very much alive and fun.
Counseling in this manner becomes more of a prevantive step to making sure you are procuring the right foundation to your relationship. It’s important to nip those bad habits in the bud and form the long lasting healthy habits in your relationship. To help the process along, it’s beneficial to seek counseling at this stage.
14. You Are Afraid to Share Your Emotions or Thoughts.
A healthy relationship thrives on communication. If you have trouble verbalizing what you feel or think, you need to seek couples therapy to learn how to communicate. In the meantime, you can establish rules so you don’t run into as many snags when speaking with one another.
If you want to communicate more clearly, you need to think about when you can be flexible or when you may not feel as adaptable. It is also important to outline the consequences if the other partner does not respect the limits you’ve set for communications. For example, if someone yells, you need a time out. You can pause the discussion for 30 minutes and take a walk until you can again communicate more logically. When communicating clearly, the idea is to promote understanding and avoid emotional conflict and upset.
15. You Are Split Ideologically.
Sometimes, couples find themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum regarding their ideas about marriage, kids, retirement, and finances. If you find this to be true for you, you need to speak to a couples counselor who can help you meet halfway or at least reach some type of compromise. Couples with kids often experience ideological differences and realize they have different parenting styles.
16. You Have More Negative Than Positive Experiences.
If your view of your partner’s attributes has changed over time, you need couples counseling to discover the reasons for your change in attitude. Sign up for therapy if you focus more on the negative than on the positive of your relationship. Couples who have healthy relationships should have five positive experiences for each negative experience.
This 5:1 magic ratio represents the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, according to Purdue University educators. Relationships researcher John Gottman established this ratio to improve couple interactions and strike a more healthy balance.
17. You Are Going Through a Major Milestone in Life.
Some couples seek counseling when they are experiencing a major life change, such as retirement, caring for an elderly parent, seeing the last of their children leave home or moving. These times can be fraught with emotion and sadness. When you are experiencing major transitions in life as a couple, you need a support system, such as couples therapy.
18. You Think You May Need Couples Counseling.
If you think you need couples counseling, you probably have believed it for a while. Many couples seek the help of a couples counselor later rather than sooner. While attending a counseling session does not signal any actual problems, it can get you through more challenges together and on your own. According to the Gottman Institute, couples wait, on average, about six years to seek couples counseling.
Are you interested in couples counseling? If so, reviewing some statistics will help. According to the site Open Counseling, couples counseling has a high success rate of 70%.
It helps to note the following statistics as well:
- About 80% of the therapists who practice privately offer couples therapy.
- Nearly 50% of married couples have taken part in relationship counseling.
- Most people who go to a couples counselor engage in an average of 12 sessions, with 66% of the couples improving their relationship in 20 sessions or fewer.
The one major roadblock a couple faces toward changing their relationship is reluctance. Both of the people in the union need to commit to couples counseling, not just one of them.
Set Aside Some “We” Time Now
After reading the above article and after reviewing your relationship, do you think you need to schedule some time for yourselves – time that will give you more insight into your behaviors and feelings?. Why wait to learn about how to improve your relationship and life? Schedule a free 15 minute consultation with us to arrange a time for couples counseling. There is no time like the present to repair and revitalize your relationship.
Free Couples Consultation
If you have read the article and are concerned you need of some couples counseling. We offer a free 15 minute consultation. Discuss your needs and decide for yourself if we can be a good fit for you.
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