One of the main reasons people seek therapy is for help with intimate and close relationships. And while couples counseling tends to be viewed as something for only relationships in crisis, there are many reasons people in relationships might pursue it. Some are small, some larger, but all are important and deserve to be explored and worked on.
Here are 10 good reasons to look into relationship counseling:
1. Communication Issues
Communication is the foundation of all relationships. Communication comes in many forms, both in person and over the phone, text, or social media. Therapy teaches couples how to communicate with each other in a positive manner that works. The type of communication a person grows up around tends to strongly affect how they communicate in their adult relationships. Counseling can help couples make a conscious choice of communication style and not just fall back on what they know from their history.
2. Premarital Counseling
There are many issues couples face before they tie the knot. Premarital counseling is a place to discuss many things. One example is finances. Will bank accounts be shared? What about making decisions about what to purchase? Another consideration is household duties. Are children part of the picture? What role(s) will in-laws play in your life? Couples counseling can be a safe place to start the conversations that need to be addressed.
3. Sexual Issues
Sex can be something that heals and brings a couple together, or it can be a battleground fraught with anxiety, embarrassment, anger, and hurt. Counselors encounter sexual issues frequently and can help.
4. Infidelity and Unfaithfulness
Infidelity within a relationship can be the most hurtful and damaging thing a couple ever goes through, but it does not mean the relationship has to be over. Couples counseling provides a healing space to begin the journey toward resolution. It can help find practical and meaningful ways to navigate the treacherous waters of unfaithfulness.
5. Assistance Managing Other Relationships
Couples have relationships with people outside of their relationship together. Friends, extended family, children, coworkers, and supervisors/bosses/professors are just a few. These relationships can be either healthy or unhealthy. Some things that can be discussed are boundaries with members of the opposite sex or same sex, communication with exes, and together and alone time.
Nontraditional intimate relationships, such as polyamory, open, and swinging, can have problems and struggles—some of which are specific to their lifestyle and identity, some that all couples deal with.
6. Nontraditional Relationships
Nontraditional intimate relationships, such as polyamory, open relationships, and swinging, can have problems and struggles—some of which are specific to their lifestyle and identity, some that all couples deal with. It can be intimidating to seek relationship therapy for fear of not being valued or understood because of the type of intimate relationship one is in. Many relationship counselors are comfortable and have the background and understanding to work with people in nontraditional relationships and can provide an open and safe place to work on the struggles a couple is having.
7. Blended Families
When one or both partners have children from another relationship, blending has its own specific struggles and difficulties. Parenting differences, the role of the other parent, and the new identity of the family all need to be explored.
8. The End of a Relationship
When a relationship has ended, whether by mutual agreement or otherwise, managing life can be difficult. Often, individuals need to express anger, sadness, and grief. There may be practical issues to sort out as well, such as housing and children. Agreeing how and when to communicate is another example of a matter to be discussed in couples counseling.
9. Digital-Age Issues
Facebook. Twitter. Texting. Sexting. Instagram. YouTube. Snapchat. These are just a few ways technology can infiltrate and affect relationships. Communicating via social media has its own pros and cons. Couples often have conflict regarding who to “friend,” what to “like,” and who to text, block, or chat. Communicating that is not done face-to-face or even on the phone is hard. No matter how many emojis are used, words can be misconstrued and misread. Tone of voice and body language are important to understanding what is being conveyed. Relationship counseling can help couples work through problems technology has caused, and create boundaries with each other to help restore trust when social media have hurt the relationship.
10. Trust Issues
After trust is broken, relationships can be harmed or even destroyed. Part of having a solid and healthy relationship is to be able to trust one another. Learning to trust again is a slow and hard process, and it can be painful and frustrating when it doesn’t happen quickly. Counseling can educate and assist couples with understanding the process of regaining trust, and provide tools and direction to help.
All relationships are difficult in some form or another. There will be disagreement, conflict, and hurt even in the best of times. Relationship counseling can help individuals and couples grow and heal. Like all types of therapy, the lessons learned and behaviors changed will continue to serve each person for much longer than the therapy itself.
It takes work to have a solid and positive relationship. Couples counseling is worth considering for any couple and can promote mutually beneficial change for years to come.
© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, therapist in Columbus, Ohio
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