5 Signs That It’s Time for Couples Counseling
Sometimes when couples contact me seeking relief from hurt and despair, they realize that they want to end the relationship because it just won’t work. There is no hope that things will change and they want different things. These couples have waited too long before seeking help and have already begun their dissolution of the relationship. I decided to make this list as a way for couples to know when to seek help before it is too late. It is easier to change perspectives and behavior before negative patterns become ingrained in the relationship, so here are five signs that it’s time for couples therapy or marriage counseling.
1. You find yourself thinking about how much easier and happier life would be if you were single or with someone else. By entertaining these kinds of thoughts you are starting to emotionally disconnect from your partner. Once you start down that path, it’s a slippery slope to considering ending the relationship or having an affair. Therapy helps address the underlying issues that cause miscommunication and hurt before they cause deep emotional scars.
2. You think negative thoughts about your partner more often and sometimes even say them out loud. To paraphrase the wise words of Gandhi: your thoughts become your words; your words become your behavior; and your behavior becomes your habits, so watch your thoughts and keep them positive. Therapy helps discover a relationship’s strengths as well as weaknesses. It’s just as important to talk about positive experiences as it is to address problems and a relationship with a future has plenty of blissful times to focus on.
3. You do anything to avoid bringing up issues with your partner. For example, you start lying or omitting information, suppressing your feelings, or talking to your friends and/or family about things that should be addressed with your partner. Some couples avoid talking about issues, which can be just as damaging as having a big, loud fight. When you notice that you have become uncomfortable bringing up issues with your partner or you’re fearful of your partner’s reaction, it’s time to seek help with opening up communication and nipping negative patterns in the bud.
4. You have a general feeling that your partner’s actions and behavior are motivated by damaging intentions. When you start doubting that your partner has your best interest at heart, the trust in the relationship was broken by betrayal, however small or large, and needs to be repaired.
5. You notice yourself wanting to hurt your partner for hurting you. You may feel justified in doing something your partner doesn’t like, but this “quid pro quo” view of your relationship serves as a basis for a relationship that’s lacking empathy and understanding. You are not a mind reader and your assumptions about where your partner is coming from may be mistaken. Therapy helps couples talk about their emotions in ways that are validating and productive.
Couples counseling can mean the difference between fine-tuning a few things in the relationship and being faced with a break-up or divorce. It’s kind of like taking your car to the mechanic when you hear a funny noise instead of running it into the ground thinking it will fix itself and then having to buy a new car. You have to first notice the signs that something’s off and know where to go for help. Then take proactive steps to improve certain parts and implement maintenance of the relationship.
Ilianna Luna is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Owner and Director of Happy Home Therapeutic Services, a private practice center in Plantation, FL. Ilianna enjoys helping people see their lives in new ways with new possibilities.