Did you know that couples spend, on average, 6 years being unhappy before seeking help from a couples therapist?
Six years is a long time to be unhappy. Life is too short to spend so much time unhappy, especially in romantic relationships. Being disappointed in your relationship can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety, impact your self-esteem, and increase your stress level, all of which have physical impacts on your health.
You’ve probably experienced how difficult it is to function when you’re having relationship issues. Focusing on things like work can be hard when you’ve had a big argument with your partner because our romantic relationships are important to us. Ideally, romantic relationships give us a secure base to return to, and it can be emotional when that security feels threatened.
Working with a couples therapist to manage these big feelings and find new ways to relate to each other can help your relationship feel more secure. But how do you know when it’s the right time for couples therapy in your relationship?
Why do couples wait so long to see a couples therapist?
Sometimes couples wait to see a therapist because they’re not sure their problems are severe enough to warrant therapy. Believing this keeps many people from seeking therapy who might really benefit from it. It’s a common misconception that you need to be in a crisis to talk to a therapist.
It can be beneficial to start therapy when you’re not in a crisis situation, like after infidelity or having significant disagreements. It’s easier to fix a minor issue than to make a giant repair, and making sure to solve more minor problems as they come up prevents repairs from being needed in the first place.
Couples counseling seems intimidating for a lot of folks.
It can be tough to imagine sitting in front of a stranger and talking about personal and vulnerable issues. It might also be scary to consider sharing what’s bothering you in your relationship in front of your partner. Communication is hard enough, but talking about your feelings in front of your partner and a therapist can seem overwhelming or like you’re being set up to fail.
If these types of thoughts have kept you from seeking therapy before, don’t be hard on yourself. Many of us grow up hearing messages reinforcing these beliefs, and it’s okay to be cautious. Remember, though, that you don’t deserve to feel unhappy for another 6 minutes, let alone 6 years.
If you’re thinking about ways to improve your relationship, here are 8 signs that it’s time to start couples therapy.
You’re thinking about couples therapy.
If you’ve found your way to an article like this, couples therapy is probably already been on your mind. If you’ve found your way to an article like this, couples therapy is probably already been on your mind. Do we need couples therapy? After all, you don’t need to be in a crisis in your relationship to benefit from counseling. Taking the time to go to counseling before something is seriously wrong can help you lay a safe and secure foundation in your relationship to return to when issues arise.
If you’ve thought that counseling might be a good option for you and your partner(s), that’s a good sign that it’s time to check out your options for couples counseling.
You don’t know what’s going on in their life.
It can be upsetting to realize that you don’t know what’s going on in your partner’s life, or vice versa. Part of being in a relationship with someone is getting to know the intimate, nitty-gritty details of their day-to-day lives. Some couples find that they have drifted apart to the point where they are basically leading separate lives. If you feel like you don’t know what’s going on in your partner’s life, couples therapy can help get you communicating again.
You don’t feel heard or validated.
Feeling heard and validated in relationships is crucial. When one or both of you doesn’t feel like they can count on the other to listen to what they’re saying, it can lead to resentment, anger, or even sadness. It can be incredibly lonely to feel as though your partner doesn’t hear what you say or value your experiences. Truly hearing one another requires active listening and zero screens present (unless it’s a video call) so you can focus on each other. Working with a couples therapist can help you learn how to listen more effectively.
You keep having the same fight over and over.
Some fights can’t be resolved in relationships, but if the same fight keeps coming up repeatedly without any sort of change, it might be time to call in a professional. Even if you can’t find a way to agree on a topic, couples therapy can give you a chance to work on communicating respectfully and give you new tools to approach these disagreements.
You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
If you’re always tiptoeing around your partner, trying not to set their anger off, that’s a problem. It feels terrible to have to walk on eggshells in relationships because it feels like you can never do anything right. If this feeling is coming up for you, talking with a couples counselor can help you find ways to communicate without losing control.
You keep secrets from each other.
Trust is a big part of healthy relationships. It can be a red flag when you don’t feel like you can trust your partner with important information. You can keep things private, even in healthy relationships. If you’re finding yourself going out of your way to keep things from your partner, it might be time to consider why.
You are concerned about infidelity (or considering it).
People with all kinds of relationship structures can deal with infidelity in relationships, not just in monogamous couples. Every relationship should ideally have agreed-upon boundaries (this is why communication is essential) about what does or doesn’t constitute cheating. If the urge to disregard those boundaries is coming up for one or both of you, it’s another sign that you require support from a therapist to help you get back on the same page.
You can’t remember the last time you had sex (and it bothers you)
It’s essentially unheard of for two people to have the same libido, so many couples have to manage mismatched sex drives. Balancing two different sex drives can lead to many hurt feelings or shame, which can cause issues in relationships. If you’re distressed over your sex life, whether you’d like to have more sex or don’t want sex as often as your partner, it’s worth talking to a therapist who can help.
It’s okay if a lack of sex in your relationship doesn’t cause you or your partner any distress, but if it does, working with a therapist (especially a sex therapist) can help you communicate and find what works for both of you.
Working with a couples therapist can give you space to explore your relationship and your needs with your partner.
It doesn’t matter what stage of the relationship you’re in or your relationship structure – couples counseling can help give you new ways to hold space for one another and voice your needs confidently. Get in touch today to get started.