There has long been an unpleasant stigma surrounding couples who seek out couples therapy. As a result, many couples decide not to tell anyone else they’re going for therapy. They worry the news will be met with a judgemental response and questions concerning their relationship.
There is no need for such a stigma to surround such a decision because attending couples therapy could be the start of a meaningful life change and a stronger, healthier relationship in the years to come.
Seeking professional help in a marriage is a good sign: it shows that one or both partners recognize that there are issues and are willing to work on them with some help so that the marriage can continue successfully.
So, what signs could point to a need for couples to engage the services of marriage counselors or a family therapist?
Signs that You May Need Marriage Counseling
No relationship is perfect, and the dynamics can easily change over time. We don’t stay the same as people as we grow older. Between jobs, having children, navigating significant life changes, and other pressures, it’s normal to have hiccups in a relationship.
But you may have noticed one or more of the following signs that have prompted you to wonder whether marriage counseling can help your relationship.
Sign #1 – Communication has Broken Down
All relationships require communication between parties, and when it breaks down in a marriage, it can cause frustration between couples who lose the knack of understanding each other’s feelings.
Unable to communicate your feelings to your partner can lead to more frequent arguments and a breakdown in intimacy. Before long, a vicious cycle can occur when neither party in the relationship feels they are being heard, so they stop trying to communicate.
Sign #2 – Arguing More Often
A rise in the frequency of rows and arguments could certainly be down to poor communication, but there could be other underlying reasons, too. These can include depression, anxiety, feeling a lack of support, or simply struggling with life at a particular moment.
That doesn’t mean that all fighting is terrible; it’s healthy to argue, but if the arguments are frequent and often arise from seemingly tiny issues, it can be time to seek support from a relationship counselor.
Sign #3 – Nonexistent Sex
Sex is a massive part of a marriage and is one of the main ways couples retain intimacy. So when challenges in the bedroom present themselves, sometimes without reason, it’s essential to explore the underlying causes.
It’s often the most daunting of topics to broach with a therapist, but it can often be the key to unlocking solutions for other problems in the marriage. Working on intimacy issues can result in a closer future together.
Sign #4 – You and Your Partner Don’t Want the Same Things Anymore
Even with the best communication between couples and even the healthiest sex life, many couples find that after some time together, they no longer feel they have the same goals and are showing signs of drifting apart.
Trained professionals can help couples find focus in their relationship, perhaps uncovering reasons that goals you once had together now no longer seem viable.
Sign #5 – There are Concerns Around Cheating
When one or both partners look outside the marriage for intimacy, it’s the perfect time to seek marriage counseling. Infidelity is an issue many clients in couples counseling face, and it can help to seek out a professional who can guide couples through this difficult time.
Counseling can be a method of preventing cheating from occurring when one or both partners is considering it. Still, it can also be effective at exploring the deep feelings felt by both parties if infidelity has already occurred.
Sign #6 – Issues Out of Your Control
Not all couples seek therapy services because they have problems in their marriage. Instead, they may struggle together to navigate an external issue, perhaps with a family member.
Money worries, trauma, significant life changes, substance abuse, and bereavement are just a handful of troubles that can give solid couples cause to check in with a counselor to guide them through a difficult patch.
This leads us to one more sign.
Sign #7 – You Want to Have a Healthy Relationship
Many therapists agree that all couples should enter counseling, whether they have current problems or not. It’s healthy to check in and gain an even better understanding of each other’s wants and needs before it becomes a problem.
Family counseling isn’t just available to people who are having problems. Couples therapy can be a part of good self-care, and even the most healthy relationships can benefit from the self-awareness of good emotional health.
Whether it’s before the wedding, while a couple is still in the honeymoon phase, when they’re expecting a baby, or they’ve been together for decades, therapy is an excellent way to tune up relationships.
My Partner Has Suggested Marriage Counseling
It can be a shock when, while thinking everything was going fine in a marriage, a partner suggests attending marriage counseling. It can even feel hurtful, as though you may be doing something wrong.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. Even when a couple might not be facing difficult situations together, one-half of the pair may be struggling with communicating concerns or difficulties they may be experiencing, and the suggestion of therapy does not need to feel like a personal attack.
When a person realizes they would benefit from marriage counseling, this can be a sign that they continue to be invested in the committed relationship and want to air out concerns under the guidance and with the support of a trained therapist so that the marriage can continue to work.
Will Relationship Counseling Help My Marriage?
Countless couples will attest to marriage counseling having saved their relationship when it was on the brink of collapse. Couples who have sought help when at the stage of wanting to separate or even divorce have successfully repaired their relationship.
That doesn’t mean that counseling is a magical provision that will make all issues in the marriage go away. Instead, therapists are there as neutral, trained observers who listen to both sides of the issue and point out ways in which they feel effort can be put in from both partners.
Clients who experience treatment find that therapy helps them navigate the future and the challenges that life brings, whether their marriage survives their issues. Couples counseling can help someone be a better person and a better partner and can assist them in improving their parenting skills.
Sometimes, even with individual and couples counseling, a marriage cannot be saved, and those who provide therapy are trained to help couples understand when they feel the time has come to split.
Couples therapy is a solution-focused treatment, where all the support and therapy that can be provided to help save the marriage will be given. Still, in cases where separation is the healthier choice, couples counseling can help couples navigate the challenging road ahead more effectively.
What is Emotionally Focused Therapy?
In searching search queries such as “online therapy near me” and “local couples therapists”, you may have come up with a wealth of results that all suggest different approaches. One of these approaches may have been Emotionally Focused Therapy or EFT.
EFT as a therapy approach was first developed in the 1980s by two doctors named Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. The premise of EFT is that the bonds we form with other people are often dependent on our personal ability to deal with our emotions.
EFT is seen as a humanistic form of psychotherapy, in which a person, couple, or even an entire family, looks at the attachments they have formed, both recently and as long ago as in childhood, and explores the way the dynamics of these relationships are affecting current ways of dealing with others.
Clients who engage in EFT often have to delve into past trauma, including childhood relationships with parents. Perhaps they have witnessed domestic violence or have experienced other traumatic events that have never been resolved.
EFT works using three specific stages, all part of the structured approach to this solution-focused therapy: De-escalation, Restructuring, and Consolidation.
The first step in EFT therapy is getting everything on the table. It’s when the therapist will listen, observe, and note where there are issues. Over time, the therapist will guide couples into noticing certain behaviors or patterns negatively impacting the relationship, which perhaps neither of the couples has previously noticed.
Having more personal awareness is the first step. Couples often comment on how they began to see significant improvements almost immediately when understanding how to notice specific unhelpful ways of dealing with issues they may have been practicing.
Perhaps the most vulnerable stage of the process, the restructuring stage, comes when partners learn to openly share their emotions under the careful hand of the therapist.
With a focus on emotions, couples can communicate their deepest thoughts to each other, and learn how to support each other, thus creating a stronger bond than ever before.
By taking into account all they have learned, the couple will hopefully have successfully dealt with healing past wounds and understanding how the old way of doing things is now a thing of the past.
Working on new, more productive ways of communicating, creating newer, stronger bonds via new ways of interaction, and repeating these new methods all create positive change for the future.
What is The Gottman Method?
Drs John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman perfected their style of couples therapy, now known as the Gottman Method.
Gottman Method couples therapy works, in simple terms, on the theory that the reason some couples stay together and others don’t all comes down to how they navigate conflict when it arises.
It’s a particularly effective form of couples therapy for those who experience frequent instances of arguing, bickering, and fighting in everyday life. However, the Gottman Method of couples therapy can also be effectively delivered to couples who do not usually tend to argue very often.
The Sound Relationship House Theory
Julie and John Gottman use the metaphor of a house in their therapy. The house contains seven floors:
- building love maps
- sharing fondness and admiration
- turning towards instead of away
- having a positive perspective
- managing conflict
- making life’s dreams come true
- creating shared meaning.
Two ‘weight-bearing’ walls hold up the house and its seven floors, which comprise trust and commitment.
By working their way through each floor of the house consistently with the use of trust and commitment, couples can enter into a form of training where they can develop new skills in relating to one another.
This training affects how they interact and can help partners understand their place in the relationship and how their behavior is essential to developing healthy relationships.
What if My Partner Won’t Attend Couples Counseling With Me?
In an ideal world, when couples counseling is suggested, both parties will agree to seek support from a licensed marriage counseling service. They will soon be on the road to getting support in their relationship.
However, not all partners feel counseling will help them. Perhaps they feel counseling is too personal, an invasion of their privacy. Or, they may feel there is no genuine issue in the marriage.
If this is the case, then you may still benefit from attending counseling alone. Being in therapy and talking to a professional can still benefit you in your behavior with your partner, along with helping you recognize ways in which you can gain more confidence in yourself.
A therapist is usually a trained mental health professional, so even if you don’t attend therapy as a couple, receiving support for depression and treating anxiety via counseling can significantly improve your mental health, which in turn can help your spousal relationship.
Marriage counseling is not usually a service that is covered by health insurance plans; however, some health insurance does cover therapy for mental health treatment and psychotherapy. So, it is always worth researching whether such treatment could include attending therapy sessions as a couple.
One-on-one therapy can help entire families, as when children see that their parents are making an effort to strengthen familial bonds, they are more likely to learn better communication skills which they will practice when they have families of their own.
Consider Online Therapy Services
Not all couples have time to meet for couples therapy for regular sessions at a counseling center, or therapist’s private practice, so online therapy can be a great way to get support from therapists without having to commute to a specific place.
Looking For Couples Counseling Near Me
Search online today for local licensed therapists who can assist you in taking the first step toward working on your marital relationship. Many clients find that simply making that first contact and feeling that someone understands their predicament can go a long way toward optimism for the future.
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