If your relationship is on the rocks, breaking up isn’t the only option: couples counseling can salvage a struggling marriage — or even improve a good marriage. Just ask rocker P!nk, who has attended couples counseling with her husband, Carey Hart, for most of their 17-year relationship. She told Today host Carson Daly that couples counseling saved her marriage. “It’s the only reason we’re still together,” she said.
Indicators Couples Counseling Might Work For You
Even the best long-term relationships can hit difficult patches. But don’t turn to therapy only when floating through rocky waters: couples counseling smooths over the rough edges of your relationship, even when most things are going okay. That merry-go-round argument you keep having — about family, the dishes, or your dream home? Maybe it’s time to stop. Research published in the Journal of Family and Marital Therapy shows that 7 out of 10 couples have a positive experience in couples therapy. A relationship counselor can help you and your partner work through the issue.
Here are a few indicators that couples counseling might work for you.
1. Arguments are intensifying — or just repeating
Even deliriously happy couples often have their sticking points: the irritating brother-in-law always looking for a handout, the budget, the proportion of rom-coms versus action flicks in your movie-watching routine. You know these arguments by heart.
Don’t let these repetitive spats be the sticking point in your relationship. Working with a couples counselor can help dig into the roots of the problem. Often, more lies beneath the surface than we expected. For example, rom-coms versus action flicks might seem like a simple matter of balance. But in reality, one spouse just doesn’t feel heard.
If you’re increasingly going ’round and ’round in more circles, a counselor can help you figure out why this might be the case.
2. Your arguing style has changed…or wasn’t great from the start
Let’s make one thing clear: arguing isn’t bad, per se. Even 20-years-married couples will probably find new things to argue about. Expecting two different people to agree 100 percent of the time is absurd.
The key is how you argue. Do you consider your partner’s point of view? Or are all arguments focused on your feelings and your feelings alone? Speaking of those feelings, are they calmly discussed, or do you resort to yelling?
No amount of therapy will make you and your spouse magically agree on everything, but a counselor will help you argue better and more productively.
3. Something feels off
Relationships have their hills and valleys. Some days you’re riding a high, so in love with your partner you think you might burst. Others…not so much. Perhaps you’re irritable, feeling neglected, or just yearning for me-time. If your relationship has felt “off” for a while, consider meeting with a counselor.
A therapist can help you and your partner pinpoint the reasons for the slump and develop proactive and effective solutions. Perhaps you need a fun trip with your favorite friends, or maybe the solution is as simple as equitable housework. Together, you can push out of your relationship valley and into a new high.
4. You or your spouse cheated
Infidelity can wreck a marriage — but it doesn’t have to be the end. Whether you and your partner are hoping to heal after cheating or break up with minimal pain, a couples counselor can help.
Your therapist can help you work through the scary questions, like “Why did this happen?” and “Does this mean you don’t love me?” They will also help uncover the subconscious reasons behind the affair. Together, you can address the issues that led to infidelity — and recover from the pain it wrought.
5. Your communication could use work
Ah, “communication.” One of those psychology buzzwords that you know you should work on, but never quite know how. Enter your couples counselor, who is trained to identify poor communication patterns and offer tools to improve.
Not sure if your communication could use some work? Here are some signs to look out for in yourself or your partner:
- Frustration after conversations
- Negative responses to helpful suggestions
- Focusing on personal shortcomings instead of the bigger picture
- Frequent passive-aggression and sarcasm
Even if your communication skills are decent, a checkup never hurts. Remember that couples counseling doesn’t have to be a life-long commitment. For some couples, like Pink and her husband, regular therapy helps tremendously. Others prefer occasional sessions, or going only for a few months.
Don’t think of couples counseling as suitable only for “damaged” relationships, you may find that therapy transforms your great relationship into a fantastic partnership.