Do We Need Couples' Counseling?

Chris and Laura have gone through a lot in their first year of marriage together. The loss of a job, different ideas about time with friends and financial strain was what finally lead Laura to call. Tom and Deb, married for nearly 30 years are considering divorce after a recent affair surfaced in their lives. Susan and David are dating and trying to decide if they should commit and move in together. Whether your story is similar to these or much different, struggles in a relationship are quite common. Signs couples’ counseling could greatly help you include these:

You can’t talk to one another. Trouble communicating is one of the most common problems men and women seek couples therapy for. Whether it’s an issue that keeps coming up over and over again or having difficulty talking about the day to day, talking to one another is vital to a healthy relationship.

You feel disconnected and sometimes lonely in your marriage. The lack of communication and misunderstanding in a marriage can lead to great amounts of loneliness and disconnection. Aside from struggling to find common interests, busy lives, work schedules and children can bring on significant amounts of added stress that can widen the wedge between the two of you. While it might seem silly or no big deal to feel lonely, know that loneliness is often one of the most common contributors of depression and sadness. 

You’re tired of fighting. Conflict can be exhausting, especially if it’s high in frequency and intensity and/or you have a hard time coming to a resolution that seems fair. There are a lot of different ways to have tough conversations and couples’ therapy can help you learn how to better communicate in a more effective, healthy and loving way. 

You often feel hurt in your relationship. Sometimes this happens because our expectations aren’t being met, there is some form of betrayal or someone acts on something without thinking about the other person. Hurting others happens but if you don’t acknowledge it or make attempts to repair, this hurt sticks around and becomes bigger. Aside from learning how to communicate better and reaching healthier resolutions, couples’ counseling can also help you learn how to heal, and make repair attempts so healing can begin.

There’s been a betrayal. Betrayals in relationships can happen when one person steps outside the relationship for comfort and connection or to have a physical relationship with someone else. But they can also happen when any other form of trust is broken as well. John Gottman speaks often about how trust in built in small measurable moments, not grandiose gestures. Couples counseling helps you learn how to heal, ask for what you need, build empathy, trust and compassion for one another as well. 

You’re considering a separation or divorce. If you’ve reached the point where you’re considering a separation or divorce, chances are you’ve been hurting. While there are no guarantees or magic wands  and it very well could be too late, couples’ therapy can help here in a few different ways. For starters, talking together with a couples’ therapist could help you determine whether there’s anything salvageable in the relationship. While you or your partner may be feeling “done,” sometimes we can uncover some hope for change and resolution. Non-traditionally, couples’ therapy is a great place to explore the idea of conscious uncoupling, a term coined by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin a few years ago when they divorced not just humanely, but lovingly as well. 

Friendship, trust, communicating with one another, and resolving conflict are all areas where a couples’ therapist can help your relationship grow. Learning how to connect more deeply with one another is truly something that can change the state of your marriage. While it’s incredibly vulnerable to sit across from your partner and share your hurt, pain and even joy, the opportunity to grow together through difficulties can create a beautiful, lasting shift of intimacy.