Don’t Wait to See a Couples Counselor. Here’s Why
More couples are hiring a qualified couples counselor to help them avoid the mistakes of their parents’ generation. Research indicates that with the help of counselors, couples are faring better than a generation ago and divorce rates have dropped to a 40 year low, specially among educated, middle income couples. Two findings from research provide a sobering but important addition to this hopeful trend. One research study shows that, on average, couples wait too long to get the help they need to get their relationship back on track. Another research study shows that when couples do nothing, a relationship deteriorates over time.
When couples wait, things that start out as small problems can become big problems if not addressed in time. As a couples counselor who’s helped couples for a long time, I can attest to this. When couples come to me after years of struggling with a same problem, it is much more difficult for me to help them get over an accumulation of hurt, disappointment, and disconnection. I often think, “What took so long? I am not a magician.” The expectation that long-seated problems can be repaired by a few sessions of counseling is unrealistic. It can be done, but it is much more difficult.
Seeking the help of a couples counselor when things are “not so bad” can identify areas of potential problems before they develop or spiral out of control. Fixing small problems is simpler and easier than waiting until they are very unhappy to consult with a couple’s counselor.
Try this relationship quiz to identify areas where small problems can develop into big ones if left unaddressed.
I recently discovered a great Couples Institute article that explores waiting until things get difficult before seeking help. Here is an excerpt.
“It is interesting that for one of the most challenging but potentially rewarding life experiences – our relationship – we usually just expect to be able to “get on with it” and will only consider reaching out for expert and professional help if things go badly wrong. Seeking advice and support from healthcare experts is accepted as being proactive and valuing yourself and your health.
Yet seeking couples therapy tends to carry many misinformed and unhelpful stigmas. People rarely recognize that couples therapy as a preventative measure shows how much you and your partner value your relationship while acknowledging you are likely to encounter conflict and challenges in learning how to navigate your individual wishes, expectations and needs. We are not born with an innate map of how to foster a mutually successful and satisfying couple relationship but we can learn those skills.”
Read the full article →