Why Every Relationship Can Benefit From Couples’ Therapy
If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, you probably already know that it’s very normal for your relationship to experience ups and downs. However, many couples choose not to seek couples’ therapy, often because of the stigmas that are unfortunately still attached to seeking professional treatment for mental and emotional struggles. There’s a big misconception that couples’ therapy is only for people who have serious mental health issues or who fight constantly, but every relationship can benefit from a little TLC - even if it’s mostly a happy one. Here’s why everyone should consider couples’ therapy.
You can prevent problems before they happen.
Many people only decide to attend couples’ therapy after their fights have gotten past the point of no return. Going to couples’ therapy early in the relationship can function as a preventative measure so that your relationship is happier and lasts longer. In couples’ therapy, you can identify things that you and your partner disagree on that could lead to fights in the future. Your therapist can then give you tools to use when you do encounter a conflict in the future. On a more positive note, going to therapy can also help reinforce the things you love about your relationship, strengthening it for the future.
You can manage mental health issues together.
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are very common, and even if you don’t have a mental health problem, there’s a decent chance your partner has one. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults struggles with some form of mental illness. Mental health conditions can affect every aspect of your life, including your relationships. Even if you already go to therapy on your own, going with your partner can help both of you deal with your symptoms more effectively. Therapy can give your partner tools to help you when you are struggling, and it can also help you both understand how their feelings affect both of you. The benefits will be twofold if you both struggle with mental health issues because you can address everything holistically to build an even more supportive relationship.
You can process major life changes in a supportive environment.
When you’re in a committed, long-term relationship, big changes in either of your lives affect both of you. Even when the changes are positive, they can still be very difficult to process, and working through them in therapy together can be very helpful. This could include anything from having a baby to getting a promotion to moving to a new place together. Although all of these things are positive, they come with their challenges as well. You may also want to consider couples’ therapy if one of you is struggling with something very difficult, like a serious injury or a death in the family. Couples’ therapy will help you plan for the future together and determine how to best move forward.
You’ll have tough conversations in a safe environment.
Have you ever avoided bringing up a serious topic because you were scared of how your partner would react? You’re not alone - this is a challenge that many couples encounter throughout their relationships. For example, many couples struggle to talk openly and amicably about serious topics like marriage, children, finance, and even polyamory. Even if you trust your partner completely, it can be difficult to get over your own insecurities and say what needs to be said. In couples’ therapy, you’ll have a supportive third party there, and being open and vulnerable is encouraged. All of a sudden, those topics that seemed so scary won’t feel quite as intimidating, and you can talk about them honestly and make progress together. Your therapist is there to help ground you and prevent things from getting tense or confrontational. The more practice you have done this in therapy, the easier it will be to open up to each other outside of therapy as well.
You can navigate past hurts.
Even if you’ve never been to couples’ therapy before, there’s never a bad time to start. If you and your partner have been through difficult times together in the past, couples’ therapy is the perfect place to work through them and finally put things to rest. One of the most difficult problems for couples to move past is infidelity - sometimes you just need a little bit of extra help to start trusting each other again, even if you both have re-committed to the relationship. Your therapist will help you address the root of these past problems and help you navigate a path forward. When you both find closure, it’s much easier to enjoy each other’s love again.
It can improve your sex life.
It’s normal for couples to go through dry spells, but if you or your partner have been consistently avoiding sex for a long time, couples’ therapy can do you a huge amount of good. Your therapist can help you get to the root of the problem and give you tools and strategies to work back towards a healthy sex life. They can also refer you to a medical doctor for extra treatment if necessary. Even if you already have a healthy sex life, you might find that things get even better after couples’ therapy. All of that open communication can make it much easier to trust each other. In fact, studies have shown that talking openly about sex is directly linked to satisfaction in relationships.
How to Find A Great Couples’ Therapist
Whether you’ve been dating for a year or married for 10, seeing a couples’ therapist can give your relationship some new life. To find a couples’ therapist in your area, you can use online resources like Psychology Today’s database or the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapist’s directory. Don’t be afraid to try a few different therapists until you find one that you click with. Different therapists have their own unique approaches, so it may take some trial and error to find one that works for you. It’s worthwhile to try a session or two just to see how your relationship might improve, and don’t feel pressured to go back to someone you don’t like. If you’re unsure of what to expect, don’t be afraid to ask for a phone consultation to help you get more comfortable with the idea of therapy as well.
Think of couples’ therapy as a treat for your relationship. When you approach it positively, you will be thrilled by how much progress you can make together. Every relationship is unique, but having a professional to guide you during difficult times can clarify your love for each other.