If you ask any couples therapist, we’ll tell you to get yourselves to couples therapy when things are going well, rather than when they’re at their breaking point. Any time is a good time for therapy! But you and I both know that hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s hard to find ways to build the relationship when things seem perfect. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re considering couples counseling for you and your partner, and to that I say, great job! Exploring your options is an awesome first step. But if you need a little extra push, here are 5 signs it’s definitely time to see a therapist.
1. Trust and Commitment Issues
Perhaps neither of you have even been unfaithful - physically or emotionally - but you’re finding it very difficult to trust in one another. This could be due to harmful actions by past partners, family issues, anxiety, you name it. Step into the therapy room to find out what’s going on in your relationship that is making it hard for one - or both - of you to fully commit. On the other hand, perhaps one of you did cheat but you still love each other deeply and you want to fight for the relationship. Therapy can help you explore the issues that led to the infidelity, grieve the parts of your relationship that were lost, and explore your options to move forward.
2. Sexual Intimacy Issues
Often a taboo topic to discuss with friends and family, intimacy issues are incredibly common in any stage of a relationship, and often the issue is more mental than physical. Realistically, sexual needs and drive will never totally match up between partners. It can feel overwhelming to try to handle this issue alone and many of us shut our partners out because of shame and embarrassment. These feelings come from so much hurtful messaging about how someone “should be” in the bedroom. By coming together as a couple, therapy can treat the issue from a partnership perspective, reducing the shame you might feel, helping you and your partner communicate more effectively about sex, and hopefully bringing you back together in a physical and emotional way.
3. Inequality in the Relationship
Inequality can come in many forms - financial, gender-based, parenting, etc. Often, feelings of inequality in decision-making can lead to resentment, which is a dangerous emotion for relationships. Unfortunately, this inequality can lead to both partners feeling like their actions are not appreciated. Perhaps your partner doesn’t realize there is an imbalance and can show more empathy towards you. Or perhaps, in therapy, you can come up with healthy compromises to make you both feel seen and heard in the relationship.
4. Disagreements About Finances
Relationship struggles around finance are more common than you realize. In fact, in a survey of 1,000 people in committed relationships, 71 percent admitted to committing “financial infidelity” at least once - making a purchase their partner wouldn’t approve of, lying about spending, hiding assets, etc. (The Ascent) Talking about money is one of those taboo topics in our society that makes it a difficult conversation to broach in a relationship. By trying out couples therapy, perhaps you can find a safe space to be more open about money struggles and the emotions that are tied to spending, saving and investing. You’d be surprised what you’ll uncover.
5. Escalating Conflicts and Toxic Communication
Communication, communication, communication. It’s what we constantly hear can make or break a relationship. Sometimes we may think we’re communicating effectively, but our partner actually isn’t able to understand and empathize because our delivery is too emotionally charged. In an argument, is your goal to listen or to win? If you're aiming to win, it’s time to reassess your communication styles. On the flip side, if you tend to bottle up issues and have a deep discomfort with expressing discontent, remember that your partner isn’t a mindreader. Before you get frustrated with everything you’ve bottled up, reflect on why you’re uncomfortable owning your needs and asking for them. And go find a good couples therapist!