Studies show that couples counseling can save, and even strengthen, relationships, but many couples seek help too late. This might be because we incorrectly assume therapy is only for individuals who suffer from mental health problems or, in the context of couples therapy, as a last resort to completely broken relationships.
But if you’ve even considered asking a third party for relationship advice, there is no reason to wait to see a couples counselor. Even if you haven’t talked to your partner about couples counseling, but think it might help your relationship, it can be a good idea to seek a consultation on your own.
Consider Couples Counseling if:
You address the same patterns or contentions over and over again
If you and your partner revisit the same arguments over and over again, you need to explore and understand the root of the problem. Sometimes couples don’t recognize the problem until it’s brought up by someone in the relationship, or a third party, and addressed directly. Couples counseling can help.
Your partner wants to go to counseling
If your partner asked you to go to counseling, address their request. It takes courage to seek help. Their ask also shows they’re interested in working things out. Whether you believe you need counseling or not, it’s important to respect their request and commitment. Give it a try.
You think about having (or have had) an affair
If you’re even considering an affair while in a monogamous relationship, then something might be off. And if you’ve been involved in an affair, there’s definitely reason to talk about it. Infidelity can be deeply traumatizing for the mistreated party, but it does not mean your relationship is over.
You and your partner are not sexually aligned
Every individual experiences sex differently. From needs and desires to frequency, approaches to sex vary significantly. In any relationship, these variations can cause confusion, contention, frustration, and a breakdown in communication. Coming to couples therapy to talk about sex can be incredibly rewarding for your relationship!
You’re considering separation or divorce
Any couple considering separation or divorce may want to talk to an objective couples counselor to help them decide the best next step. In therapy, we call this discernment counseling. This series of short counseling sessions guide you and your partner through focused conversations and exercises that help you decide whether or not you want to stay together and work on your relationship.
You fight constantly without resolution
Believe it or not, there is a way to “fight well.” It’s natural to disagree in a relationship, after all you are two unique individuals. Come to couples counseling to learn how to communicate your needs, listen, and respond to one another. These skills will help you resolve conflict without relationship-damaging resentment and anger.
You’re about to get married or go through another big life change
Even if you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a long time, getting married can still feel like a major commitment and life change. Premarital counseling helps couples get off on the right foot before their big day.
Marriage isn’t the only major life change worthy of discussion. Another situation we see often at Couples Counseling Associates is the formation of stepfamilies. Merging families is a big shift for the entire family and, as individuals, every family member deals with those changes differently. Couples counseling can help you discuss new living arrangements, build mutual trust and respect between stepfamily members, and learn about co-parenting.
You feel like your partner never empathizes with you
Do you ever feel like your partner isn’t truly listening to you? Do they accuse you of doing the same? Then the two of you may not be communicating your needs well. The communication skills you learn at couples counseling, like empathy, listening, and resolution can significantly improve your relationship in both the short and long term.
You simply want a strong, long-lasting, healthy relationship
Couples counseling is not just for troubled relationships! It also gives couples the skills to build a strong, healthy, supportive relationship. You can grow old together.
At first, the answer to this question seems obvious. In reality, the answer is more complex and a great one to explore with your partner. You might find yourself asking follow up questions: Do you have the same definition of being “a couple”? Do you have the same expectations for one another in your partnership? Do you even have the same ground rules or expectations of what it means to be in a relationship?
If you answered “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, then there may be a misalignment in your relationship. That’s where couples counseling can help. By building communication skills, as well as leveraging your couples counselor as an objective listener, you will learn how to better understand one another’s expectations. You can get to the root of contention and challenges in your relationship.
Unfortunately, being in love doesn’t mean we have the same foundational expectations it takes to build a strong, healthy, and long-lasting relationship. That’s why this question can be a good place to start a conversation with your partner. Your counselor will help you navigate these challenging conversations and build up the skills you need to work together inside and outside the therapist’s office.
Although couples counseling and marriage counseling may sound like the same thing, and there are a lot of similarities, you may find that couples counseling and marriage counseling have slightly different focuses and goals. Your couples counselor will work with you to understand the challenges you face and come up with the right plan to address them.
In our efforts to bring value to your life, or if you are not in the Chicago area, Couples Counseling Associates has developed a series of lessons that could have a major impact on effectively improving your relationship. We encourage you to dive into the series and discover how these resources can benefit you and your partner.
Remember, it's the positive habits we develop that guarantee us success in all areas of our lives. Discover the seven healthy habits that improve relationships or get in touch with us to learn more about Couples Counseling Associates.
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Founder, Couples Counseling Associates
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312-416-6191 ext. 205
Also in Arlington Heights
Associated Therapist Giulia Casani MA,LMFT
Kate Engler, LMFT, LPC
All the mental health professionals practicing at 737 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2130, Chicago, IL 60611 or any other locations, are individually licensed by the State of Illinois and practice independently and separately. They have no legal relationship to the practices of each other and do not incur in liability for services of one another or to Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum.