Even a few years ago, you never could have imagined considering couples counselling.
When you first fell in love with your partner things were great. But now you find that everything they do is so irritating; even the sound of them chewing makes you want to scream!
It’s inevitable that once we are out of the honeymoon phase (which lasts less than 1 year typically) and reality sets in, all relationships take some work and compromise.
While some couples hit bumps in the road every so often and seem to recover, other couples find themselves in bigger trouble, with neither party knowing exactly how to fix things.
Even though as a society we are becoming more open to the idea of getting outside help, many struggling couples hesitate to go to couples counselling,
- 31% of couples go to premarital counselling
- 19% of couples actually seek out some form of couples therapy
- The average couple waits six years before seeking professional help for marital problems.
How do you know if you should go to couples counselling? Couples counselling can be helpful for any relationship, and you don’t need to wait until you are in a crisis to work with a couples counsellor. However, if you recognize these 5 warning signs, it may be time to try couples counselling:
1. There is No Longer Healthy Communication: If you experience frequent communication breakdowns and you are unable to rationally share thoughts, feelings, and concerns with each other, couples counselling can help. Being stuck in a negative pattern of unhealthy communication leaves one or both partners feeling discouraged, angry and hopeless.
According to this article, the most common reason couples fall out of love and stop being sexually intimate is because of a pursuer-distancer dynamic. Psychologist and leading couples therapist, Sue Johnson, notes that in this negative cycle, one partner becomes critical and aggressive, the other often becomes defensive and distant. She calls this the “protest polka,” and says it is one of three “demon dialogues” that rob couples of safe emotional connection.
John Gottman’s research on thousands of couples reveals that partners who get stuck in this pattern in the first few years of marriage have more than an 80 percent chance of divorcing in the first four or five years.
2. Trust Has Been Broken: When there has been infidelity, it is very difficult for the couple to rebuild trust and repair the damage without outside help. While there is no easy way to recover from an affair, a therapist who specializes in couples counselling can offer tools and strategies to rebuild trust.
3. You’re More Like Roommates: If you and your partner act more like roommates than romantic partners, this indicates a lack of intimacy and a potential need for counselling. In Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson identifies 3 “demon dialogues” that keep couples stuck and disconnected. Through couples counselling, you will learn to identify the negative cycle that keeps you apart, you’ll become more willing to take emotional risks to preserve intimacy in your relationship.
4. One or Both of You Has Begun Acting Out: You try to mask your real feelings for as long as possible, but then you start to act out on the hurt and resentment you are feeling. For instance, your partner has been unfaithful and you have agreed to stay in the relationship and work things out. Over time the hurt remains and instead of talking it out, you find yourself lashing out, acting rude and ignoring your partner. This acting out is unhealthy for both people and is a BIG indicator you need to seek couples counselling.
5. When the Only “Solution” Seems to be Separation/Divorce: A break from negative energy can be very helpful when things get heated. However, if the only “solution” you can see is separation, not because its what you feel is best, but because you don’t know what else to do, couples counselling can help.
If you and your partner are interested in exploring treatment options, we offer free 15 minute consultations with a couples therapists to see if we can help and to decide if they are the right fit for you. Contact our administrative assistant Laura at (902) 800-4627 to schedule our appointment or book online at https://bedfordtherapy.janeapp.com