Is Your Relationship Strained?
Getting engaged, married, or even moving in together is a big step in a relationship. However, you don't have to be married to benefit from relationship counseling. Your relationship doesn't have to be strained for you and your partner to experience a benefit from having these essential conversations.
When should you seek couples counseling?
Many of us believe that we should only seek relationship counseling when divorce is around the corner. However, experts suggest that counseling should start as soon as the issues get in the way of your day-to-day interactions.
Here are a few signs that you and your partner may benefit from counseling:
- You or your partner have a difficult time expressing your feelings and opening up to one another.
- You have one or more disagreement that’s ‘unsolvable’/
- There’s withdrawal or criticism in your interactions.
- You’ve gone through a stressful event recently.
- There’s trouble making decisions together.
- You've experienced addiction, infidelity, or mental health issues.
- You want a stronger relationship.
- Escalating conflict and unhealthy communication habits.
- Emotional distance and loneliness.
- Trust and commitment issues.
- Family difficulties (friendships, work, in-laws, etc.)
- Differences in parenting styles.
- Things feeling unfair in the division of responsibilities (household chores, kids, pets, etc.)
- Difficult childhood upbringing with emotionally wounded partners makes it difficult to trust your partner or stay engaged when conflict arises.
Remember, there isn't a 'wrong' reason or bad time to seek relationship counseling. Some couples prefer to start as soon as they get married, even without apparent issues, as a preventative measure.
Can counseling help my relationship?
Relationship or marital counseling can help you in the following ways:
Resolve problems before they become habitual. Relationship counseling does more than repair a relationship – it can help you get started on better footing! Imagine ironing out differences in opinion, how to raise children, or lifestyle differences before you meet your partner at the altar! Establishing relationship counseling before problems can be even more beneficial than waiting until there are significant issues.
Learn new skills. Difficulties that haven't been worked through productively can lead to resentment over time. Learning critical relationship and communication skills early on is one of the best ways to avoid this harmful emotional build-up. If left unaddressed can be toxic to the relationship. Counseling can help you build valuable relationship skills and become effective partners.
Learn how to resolve conflict. Conflict is bound to happen in any relationship. No two people are the same, and when we're in a relationship, we get both the good and the not-so-good. Differences will arise and spark conflict, and conflict resolution is about learning our partner's perspective and experiences, discovering why a particular issue is important to them, and how to compromise. If handled healthily, conflict can bring you and your partner closer.
Better yourself to better your relationship. Being in a romantic relationship can be a mirror to ourselves. There's specific work that can't be done on our own without the experience of being in an intimate relationship. While receiving feedback on how we do things can be frustrating or stressful, it's a great way to promote growth and your relationship.
Additional benefits of relationship counseling can include:
- Create better understanding and empathy
- Encourage acceptance of one another
- Provide the opportunity to increase shared support
- Restoring emotional and physical intimacy
- Decreasing emotional detachment or avoidance
- Restoring emotional strength and building relationship resilience
- Repair and restore trust
- Providing a safe and secure environment for healing
Prevention isn't just for premarital couples
Remember, the average couple waits a total of six years before seeking professional help. Therefore, it's important to acknowledge issues early on and seek therapy as soon as possible. This means waiting six years for problems to build up, ignoring emotions, and saving the relationship that much more difficult.
Shining a light on complex relationship obstacles isn't easy, but it can lead to resolving deeper issues that impact you and your partner's wellbeing.
How can you get the most out of relationship counseling?
Effective therapy depends not only on the skills and experience of the counselor but also on your willingness as a couple. There are several things you can do to make your relationship counseling more effective. Here are a few:
Prepare yourself to be uncomfortable. Counseling can be uncomfortable as you discover new truths about yourself and shine a light on things that may have gone unresolved for some time. However, sitting with your discomfort and acknowledging that some work is to be done can help you and your relationship thrive. Your therapist is there to help and guide you, but essentially it's up to you and your partner to do the work.
Listen. Walk-in with an open mind and listen to what both your partner and counselor have to say. Being defensive only makes things more difficult for everyone involved.
Put in the time. Often, a successful outcome happens outside of the session. Your therapist may give you homework or ask you to try a few different things regarding communication and problem solving between your appointments. It's going to take time and effort to recognize improvements, and your counselor isn't a magician. So when times get tough, remind yourself why you're starting in the first place. Consult early, engage honestly throughout the process, and do the work.
What if your partner refuses to go?
Regardless of how much you believe that your relationship can benefit, your partner might not be as willing to give it a try. In this situation, remember that you can’t force your partner to try counseling, but it may be helpful to see a therapist on your own and work on things that you’re facing as an individual.
Finding a relationship counselor
Starting relationship counseling is not only an essential step to creating a healthy, fulfilling relationship with your partner but also an investment in your happiness.
If you've noticed these or any other signs in your relationship, it's time to get help. We work hard to be empathetic and listen to all of our clients to build a trusting relationship. You will feel comfortable and supported when you have a session at our office and leave feeling relieved and less burdened. Michigan Psychological offers counseling in Clinton County, Gratiot, and Midland, MI. Contact us to learn more, or call one of our facilities to schedule an appointment today!
Keywords: marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, marriage counselor