Couples Therapy

Couples Therapy & Counseling

Bringing two different, no matter how different, people together in a relationship can inevitably cause stressors and difficulties. It is important to the health and quality of a relationship to seek help when problems arise, and also through that, learn new techniques to handle future struggles. 

Common Reasons Couples Seek Therapy

There are plenty of reasons couples seek marriage counseling. 

Jealousy and Individual Insecurities. Past trauma, from childhood or previous relationships, can cause significant struggles. A history of parental abuse, previous relationship with a person struggling with addiction or being a survivor of domestic abuse can all affect the health of a relationship. Struggles with confidence and self-esteem have a ripple effect on others in the family.

Struggles with Addiction (drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, etc). Addiction is a health crisis that goes far deeper than just the activity or substance the person is addicted to. A therapist can help identify the effect addiction has on a marriage, navigate difficult feelings that arise and connect a person suffering with addiction to specialized services.

Infidelity and Trust Issues. Trust is foundational to a relationship and once broken, can seem impossible to repair. One of the most common reasons couples seek counseling is because of infidelity resulting in trust issues. This is the most common cause of divorce in couples and an excellent reason to seek counseling.

Financial Struggles. Money is a common relationship stressor. It can bring on feelings of anxiety and a lack of control or deepen negative feelings that already exist. Therapists can help couples learn how to talk through and manage financial struggles more effectively.

Parenting Style Conflicts. Whether a couple shares biological children or have a blended family, one of the reasons couples seek out a therapist is because they disagree over parenting. This is especially true in the case of a child with special needs, medical issues or when spouses have a large age or cultural gap.

Lack of Communication or Difficulty Communicating. Sometimes partners need help communicating. They can have varied styles or not realize their method of communicating is harmful. If you’ve ever wondered if you and your partner are speaking two different languages, a counselor may point out that you’re either not communicating or you’re doing so in ways that simply don’t work.

Sex. While a decline in sex and intimacy is perfectly normal, a significant decline or complete stop is a problem. Couples should seek the help of a therapist if they notice significant changes in their sexual activity and intimacy.

 

What to Expect from Couples Counseling

  • Couples therapists help partners develop effective communication skills. When problems come up in the future, couples are better-equipped to work through them together, avoiding larger blowups and problems.
  • Learn how to be assertive, not aggressive. Sometimes the issue isn’t what’s being said, but how it’s being said. Couples in marriage counseling can learn how to manage their tone and phrasing to make sure that they are asserting their needs and boundaries without being aggressive.
    • Communicate needs to your spouse. None of us our mind readers and yet we get upset when people don’t know what we need. Couples therapy helps develop the ability to clearly communicate your needs.
  • Foster acceptance and forgiveness. Especially when infidelity occurs, it’s not simply on the offending partner to be contrite. The partner who has been betrayed must learn to accept what happened and explore their capacity for true forgiveness and how to manage moving forward.
  • Processing and working through unresolved issues. Letting go is one of the hardest things to do, but until it happens, forward motion can’t happen. Partners have to learn to manage their emotions and get through the tough stuff in order to clear a path for what’s next in the relationship.
  • Understanding both the individual self and the other partner. While a relationship, especially a long one, can feel like a single person, that’s simply not the case. Each of us is responsible for ourselves, our partner and the relationship that connects us. Time has to be devoted to understanding our own complicated selves, as partner’s unique being and also who we are as a couple.
  • Developing the ability to address and work through a future crisis. Believe it or not, most of couples counseling is not about what has happened, but handling what happens in the future. The past cannot be changed, but can be understood and from it couples can learn what went wrong in their handling of various situations. Couples therapy allows the couple to continue on with more tools in their toolkit for managing future crises.
  • Increasing honesty and trust. Repairing honesty and trust are vital, but so are building them. Therapists work to reinforce existing honesty and trust so that couples emerge stronger.

 

Goals of Couples Counseling

The goals of couples counseling are similar to what you can expect to work on. Through therapy, couples work with a therapist to reach these goals so that they come away from the experience with improved communication skills, knowledge of their feelings and ability to manage their relationship and any future problems.

  • Improved communication skills. Communication truly is the heart of a relationship. The ability to communicate with honesty, and feel trusted to do so and trusting your partner with their responses can alleviate much of the stress of bringing up needs and concerns and working through them.
  • Addressing the root cause of conflict. We’ve all been in the situation where the fight we are having isn’t really about what’s really bothering us. It’s just a situation of a straw breaking the camel’s back. It’s easier to fight about who didn’t do a particular chore than to address an issue of feeling overwhelmed, not seen, or burdened. Therapists work with couples to identify what the true root cause of conflicts are so that couples can spend their time in more authentic work.
  • Creating better understanding of one another. As relationships lengthen we rarely remember to check in with our partners feelings, wants and needs. Yet, we’re always changing. It’s important to truly understand each other (and to want to understand each other!) if we want to continue to live together harmoniously and make a relationship work.
  • Restoring emotional and physical intimacy. When partners experience conflict, emotional and physical intimacy suffer. These can be hard to get back, even when both partners want them. A counselor can work with couples to comfortably discuss what both want and need from the other as far as emotional and physical intimacy. These conversations are much easier with a trained expert.
  • Decreasing emotional detachment or avoidance. With a decline in emotional and physical intimacy comes detachment and avoidance. Work with a therapist to strengthen the connection between you and your partner.
  • Building relationship resilience. Believe it or not, it’s easier to move forward with confidence and ease when you’ve gotten over a hurdle. Couples therapy allows both parties to realize that they are invested in the relationship and that they can weather things together even after what feels like the end.

 

Couples Therapy By the Numbers

Couples therapy is a proven tool toward helping couples. The stats speak for themselves!

 

One of the most important statistics to be aware of is that about 80% of private therapists offer couples counseling. This shows the need for and regularity with which couples seek out this valuable service. 

 

It’s believed that 50% of married couples seek counseling at some point in their marriage. If you feel like you’re in this alone, you’re not. Chances are, half of the couples you know have sought, are currently in or will seek out a counselor.

 

There’s great news, too! The success rate of couples in counseling is about 75% with couples reporting they stayed together and the process strengthened their marriage. We’ve come a long way since the 50% success rate of the 80s. An acceptance of outside help and availability of qualified therapists has improved the landscape tremendously. 

Is it Time for Couples Therapy?

The true end game of couples counseling is to not only find solutions and remedies for current and past issues within the relationship, but also to give the tools and knowledge for the couple to use in the future.

Chances are, if you’re on this page, you’re feeling unsure about the state of your relationship. You can learn 18 signs your relationship may be in need of couples counseling as further assessment. And, when you’re ready, find out how we can help you with a free phone or online consultation today.