Couples therapy allows couples to work through relationship troubles that may have been too difficult or tiring to do so on their own. Couples therapy offers a safe place to share your concerns that may not be easy to talk about at home without strong emotions arising and difficulty listening to one another. Working with a therapist allows both partners to be heard and work on understanding not only the surface concerns that may be causing conflict, but also the underlying issues that are being triggered as well. Working with a professional is beneficial because these concerns may not be addressed at home in a way that allows learning and shifting to a new way of understanding, which ultimately allows for deeper emotional intimacy and trust to occur between partners. Below are some common reasons people seek out couples therapy and issues that indicate a couple could benefit from therapy.
Trust has been broken
One of the most common reasons for seeking couples therapy is the need for help in overcoming a major breach of trust. Perhaps it was infidelity in the form of sex or an emotional affair, or perhaps it was a series of deceptions about money. Whatever the case, rebuilding the foundation of trust can often be helped by establishing a forum in which both parties are free to express their vulnerability.
Arguments are getting more frequent or communication is poor
You may start to notice that the rhythm of your day-to-day life is shifting to feel more conflict-oriented. These could be small arguments, or they could be huge blowouts leaving a lot of drama in their wake. Either way, it’s the pattern of the increase of conflict that’s important. Perhaps it is a blip on the screen, with one of you going through something tough personally. But it could also indicate a risky trajectory into constant arguing. Or maybe overt conflict is not the problem but you constantly feel misunderstood or ignored and feel like you don’t have a good idea of what is happening with your partner emotionally as of late. Often, one of the most tangible outcomes of couples therapy is an increase in communication, and a major improvement in its quality.
You have gone through something devastating that is changing the way you connect with each other
Life is difficult and setbacks occur. In a partnership it’s not only the setback that hurts, but also the effect it has on the relationship. Many couples go their separate ways after the heartbreaking loss of a child, for instance. Other times, it’s long-term unemployment, a health crisis, or turmoil within one of the partner’s families of origin. When major life events and crisis happen couples therapy may not be at the forefront of your mind, you have enough to worry about as it is and your energies are focused resolving the issue at hand. But keeping your bond strong in your relationship can only serve to unite you and give you additional strength to weather the storm that’s come.
Emotional/Physical Intimacy is gone or deeply diminished
It may be cliche for partners to say they feel like the spark is gone after spending a decade or more together and that they are more roommates than romantic partners but there is some truth to this saying as life is long and successful relationships demand we put as much effort into them as we do our careers, children and other responsibilities. Sometimes it may just be that the grind of daily life has begun to eclipse the ability to connect, and it’s simply a matter of re-prioritizing. Other times though, it can be more insidious and represent two partners who have quietly been growing apart, have been changing in incompatible ways for a long period, or have even learned to get their needs met elsewhere. When there is a lack of emotional intimacy it’s not uncommon for physical intimacy to diminish as well. The gradual reduction from couples being fulfilled by each other sexually to little to no sexual satisfaction can be jarring leading to one or both partners expressing frustration and feeling rejected
Something definitely feels wrong, but you’re not sure what or why
Maybe there are no glaring issues but one or both partners feels something is missing but can’t put their finger on it. Couples therapy is useful not only for solving problems, but also for identifying them. Perhaps something in the dynamic of your marriage has changed, but you can’t really describe it. Maybe you don’t feel as comfortable with your partner as you used to or you find yourself resentful of them, but you’re not sure why. These can be signs that interactions are turning unhealthy or dysfunctional. It does not mean that one person is to blame, but rather that the relationship itself could use a tune-up.