There’s so many misconceptions out there about couples therapy. One of the biggest misconceptions is the idea that the best time to seek help is when there’s a relationship crisis or as a “last resort” measure to save the relationship from ending. Meanwhile, the couple could have prevented the damage they brought into therapy during “crisis mode” by seeking therapy earlier.
Our romantic partners are one of the most complex, critical, and integral aspects of our lives. They influence our health, stress levels, recreational activities, diet, how we spent our time, social relationships, career, socioeconomic status, and life satisfaction. According to a Harvard Study, healthy relationships are associated with better health, superior brain functioning, and longer life spans.
Why wait to seek help and risk impeding other areas of your life?
•Couples therapy gives you communication tools to use in session and at home. Strategies for listening, emotional expression, addressing concerns, connecting emotionally, regulating emotions, identifying solutions, adjusting expectations, assertiveness, compromise, boundary setting, and many others.
•Space for increasing empathy, tolerance, and acceptance of both partners. •Provides relationship knowledge to help address problematic beliefs about relationships that are harmful to the relationship such “my partner is responsible for making me happy” “my partner should be able to anticipate my needs without me telling them what they are.”
•The “relationship” is the client in couples therapy. The therapist’s job is to remain neutral without taking sides. They promote healthy solutions that honor and respect both partners.
•A neutral space to help facilitate strong thoughts and feelings of both partners during conflict. Therapy is a place where conflicts are addressed but the intensity is modulated by the therapist.
•The therapist can help identify, utilize, and build on the couples strengths. When we’re in relationships, our feelings and thoughts can impact our view of the entire relationship. When we aren’t mindful of the positive aspects of our partners and relationships, it creates a channel for further negative interpretations and interactions.
•Therapy helps you identify and understand the emotions underlying the conflicts between both partners. For example, a husband states that he doesn’t understand why his wife is always “getting on him” to do things around the house. He’s been trying his best to do things around the house, but work stress has made him more sluggish and tired in the evenings. When his wife points out that he didn’t do the dishes, he gets irritable and says something sarcastic. The wife, who is also tired from work, snaps back. The arguments escalates. Before they know it, they’re arguing about something completely unrelated to the dishes in the sink. It’s an argument that was similar to many arguments they’ve had before. Therapy gives them a place to discuss what is happening underneath the anger. The couple realizes that the husband felt inadequate because he’s fallen behind at home and at work. He feels like he’s not good enough for her. He feels like his wife doesn’t understand him and feels ashamed that he “can’t handle” the pressure he’s under. On the other side, she misses him. Work stress has also slowed her down. She felt distant from her husband. She was so used to her husband being cheerful and warm with her, that this emotional distance scared her. So she made extra effort to talk to her partner and try to maintain their routine in hopes to bring back the feelings of security. When she noticed her husband didn’t do the dishes, she uses this as a symbol that he no longer cares about her as much as he did previously.
disclaimer: couples therapy isn’t for every couple/individual. There are many factors that may interfere with couples work (recovery, trauma, domestic violence, etc). Please consult with a mental health professional to make sure you seek out the services best for you.