Is It Time for Couples Therapy?
Making the decision to seek couples therapy is difficult for many people. This may be for a variety of reasons including ambivalence, not wanting to ask for help, concerns about being blamed, or feeling too busy to commit to appointments. Some couples even wonder if their issues are “important enough” to justify therapy. This begs the question, when is it appropriate to seek couples therapy, and for what issues?
Couples should consider therapy anytime one or both partners is feeling unsatisfied in the relationship, and they are unable to feel better after trying on their own. Here are some of the most common issues that may signal your relationship needs help:
- You don’t communicate well.
- You love your partner but feel like something is missing from the relationship.
- Your parenting styles don’t match up and this causes conflict.
- One of both of you desires more emotional and/or sexual intimacy.
- You’re going through major life changes.
- You have financial disagreements that you are not able to resolve.
- You no longer feel like you love your partner.
- One of you is thinking about or has already had an affair.
Ideally, couples would seek therapy long before their relationship is in crisis mode. However, research shows that most couples wait an average of six years feeling unhappy before seeking help. That’s a long time for hurt and resentment to build up. And during that time, behaviors may develop that indicate the relationship is in serious trouble. Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman calls these behaviors “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Although these behaviors occur on occasion in most relationships, the more frequently they occur without repairs being made, the higher the likelihood of the relationship ending.
Is the goal of couples therapy to reduce arguments altogether? No, because conflict is a part of any healthy, successful relationship. Rather, the goal is to help couples learn to navigate conflict more effectively. There are actually measurable differences in the way happy couples handle conflict as opposed to those in danger of separation. In his book, The Relationship Cure, Dr. Gottman says the following about healthy relationships, “It’s not that these couples don’t get mad or disagree. It’s that when they disagree, they’re able to stay connected and engaged with each other. Rather than becoming defensive and hurtful, they pepper their disputes with flashes of affection, intense interest, and mutual respect.”
If your relationship is suffering, consider calling CenterLife Counseling to set up an appointment with a trained, impartial and non-judgmental professional. We have many qualified therapists who are skilled at helping couples get back on track to a happy and satisfying relationship.
I believe that for clients to have the most beneficial therapeutic experience, there must be a strong relationship between client and therapist. Because of this, I strive to create a therapeutic environment that is comfortable, non-judgmental, and empathetic.
I have extensive experience working with individuals, couples, families, and adolescents. My areas of specialty include anxiety, depression, emotional and behavioral disturbances in adolescents, life transitions, relationship concerns, family conflict, military issues, and parenting support.
Call CenterLife Counseling today to schedule an appointment today.
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