Couples therapy can be a vital tool for helping couples resolve conflict and reach a place of greater intimacy and trust. It is natural for some conflict to arise amongst couples, but unfortunately sometimes disagreements and frustration can become the norm rather than the exception. Without intervention partners may find themselves bickering over the smallest issues and feeling chronic resentment. Even in the absence of heated arguments, a couples’ inability to resolve disagreements can leave them feeling alienated and dissatisfied. Major life stressors and transitions such as job losses, parenting challenges, and health issues can further complicate the wish partners have to care for and connect with one another. Thankfully, there are many proven methods to help couples improve their relationship issues.
How do we know if couples counseling is the right fit?
It isn’t unusual for one or both members of a couple to have some ambivalence about seeking help. Here are some of the most common signs that partners could benefit from counseling:
Communication Breakdowns: If conversations frequently lead to arguments, or a couple is avoiding talking altogether, this is a strong sign that couples therapy might be helpful.
Frequent Conflict: If disagreements and fights are more common than peaceful interactions, counseling for couples can help to address the underlying feelings that may be causing such regular arguments.
Lack of Intimacy: An absence of or significant decrease in physical or emotional intimacy often indicates that there are underlying issues that could be helpfully addressed in relationship counseling.
Feeling Like Roommates: If partners feel more like cohabitants than romantic partners, couples counseling can help to pinpoint and resolve the sources of distance.
Difficulties following Major Life Changes: Stressful events such as job loss, a new baby, changes in health status, or the death of a loved one can strain a relationship. If partners are struggling to navigate these changes, therapy can provide tools to help them regain their emotional footing.
Infidelity: Infidelity, whether it’s emotional or physical, can severely rupture the trust in a relationship. Therapy can assist in understanding the impact of infidelity and in finding ways to rebuild trust.
Considering Separation or Divorce: If one or both spouses are feeling ambivalent about continuing their relationship, marriage counseling can help to illuminate the sources of concern and to explore ways they may be able to heal their disagreements.
Premarital Concerns: Couples in the process of moving towards marriage often have anxieties around finances, the desire for children, differing parenting styles, differences in beliefs or values, and concerns about interactions with in-laws, amongst others. Premarital counseling can help partners figure out healthy ways to communicate and address these concerns.
How counseling for couples can help:
There are many ways that counseling can help a couple address their relationship issues. Some of the most frequent forms of assistance provided in relationship counseling include:
Opening Communication: Anxiety over how our partners will react often keeps people from vocalizing important feelings to one another, with the unfortunate effect of creating distance and resentment. Therapy can provide a supportive space where couples can learn how to be more vulnerable with one another.
Clarifying Needs and Expectations: As a part of opening up, partners can start to more fully express what they need from one another, as well as what their expectations are of one another. Many arguments can be prevented and a lot of trust can come from partners better understanding one another.
Learning to Diffuse Conflict: Sometimes the same conflict patterns that arise outside of a counseling session will begin to emerge during it. With the support of a therapist, these conflicts can be slowed down so that each member can better understand what is triggering negative feelings and get guidance on how to more effectively express their concerns in ways that foster connection rather than hurt feelings–both in sessions and outside of them.
Addressing Sensitive Concerns: Some topics can be particularly difficult for couples to talk openly and constructively about. Therapy can help reduce the anxiety around exploring issues that are often emotionally charged, such as financial goals and habits, intimacy desires and concerns, parenting expectations, and struggles with in-laws.
Connect more deeply
It is a privilege to help guide couples on a path to greater closeness. I draw on several well-validated insight-oriented and behavioral approaches to help empower couples with the tools and understanding they need to strengthen their relationship. Reach out and let’s talk about how I can help you and your partner foster the intimacy, affection, and shared purpose that you seek.