Pauliann Long, LCSW-C

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5 Signs You’re Ready for Couples Counseling

Maybe you’ve been waiting, waffling, or wanting to see which of you would speak to the tension between you first.

Perhaps you’re both terribly disappointed you can’t fix your relationship on your own.

Or,  it’s quite possible that you have no idea how bad things have to be before a suggestion to “ see someone” isn’t rejected outright or dismissed as an overreaction.

It’s okay. Really. Take a breath.

When things are upset and unsettled in your relationship, calm, curiosity, and a good hard look at things can bring some much-needed clarity.

So… what’s going on with the two of you?

What do you think is interfering with your connection? Would your partner agree? Can you talk about it together? What emotions come up when you do talk? Do memories or past “ghosts” get in your way? What choices, conversations, or conflicts play on repeat in your interactions?

If the answers to those questions make you tense, anxious, sad, or angry your relationship likely isn’t the safe, loving place you want it to be.

That’s rough. But you’re not alone. You’re just at a crossroads with the power to choose a healthier course. And a solid couples counselor can help you navigate the road back to a loving, secure relationship.

5 Clear Signs You’re Ready for Couples Counseling

Sensing something is amiss in your relationship may be the easy part. But knowing it’s time to delve into couples counseling could prove to be a a bit tricky.

Here are 5 signs that you’re ready:

1. One of you is “fine”. The other definitely is not.

You know you feel disconnected from each other. Likely, you’re unable to put your finger on why. So you’ve been drifting along. Uncertain of each other. Not rocking the boat. But not righting the ship either.

Couples counseling can put you both in a position to pay attention to your relationship. Guided by an objective third party, you can stop avoiding problems and dissect your disconnect.

Your counselor will help you get curious and encourage honest exploration of your feelings and fears. Together, you can look at what may be preventing you from seeing each other clearly or dealing with each other appropriately. Counseling provides a space to get on the same page, actively reassure each other, and prioritize your partnership.

2. A breach of trust has driven a wedge between you

Betrayal is often a traumatic experience in a marriage or committed relationship. The layers of emotion you must navigate should not be approached without a plan or piecemeal. Recovery is daunting without help.

Whatever breach of trust took place, the betrayed partner questions everything about their partner and life together. The betraying partner may be overwhelmed by guilt,  the amount of rational damage done, and the work necessary to improve the situation.

Couples counseling with an experienced therapist is invaluable if you’re trying to manage the emotional fallout and rebuild a safe and mutually edifying connection. Counseling becomes the neutral ground you need to hear each other out, process feelings, and make sound decisions.

3.  There is a growing pattern of discontent, criticism, and resentment

Has your relationship devolved into nitpicking and nagging? Are one or both of you discouraged by your partner’s lack of admiration and acceptance?

If so, you may need help getting to any unresolved issues and unmet expectations. Exposing the root problem will encourage healing, insight, and compassion in your interactions.

Couples counseling protects the integrity and humanity of both partners. Neither you or your partner is “the problem.” Instead, your counselor can help channel your energies,  helpfully examining, challenging and reframing the thoughts that chip away at your perceptions and understanding of each other.

4. Communication is poor, unproductive, or non-existent

What’s your basic communication like? Do you feel like you’re routinely misunderstood or dismissed? Are you able to make decisions together or share ideas? Or do you feel like strangers, unsure now of what the other is experiencing or wants for the relationship?

Losing your friendship and quality communication is a big deal. Not being able to share openly can make life together unbearable and weaken your connection considerably.

Couples counseling is an ideal vehicle for boosting the quality of your communication. Consider your sessions to be weekly or monthly communication workshops. There, you can try out the tools and practice the skills that make effectively hearing and responding to each other integral parts of your connection again.

5. Conflict has become disruptive, disrespectful, or dysfunctional

The closest couples clash at times. It’s healthy and, when managed well, conflict can present key opportunities for growth and cooperation.

However, you know you’re in trouble when you’re having the same stupid fight again and again. Or you insult each other…loudly. Or you find yourselves using aggression, passive-aggression, or other means of manipulation to score emotional points against each other.

Couples counseling reminds you that no one wins a healthy relationship that way.

Working with a counselor can help you identify conflict triggers and thought patterns. He or she will help you increase awareness,  forgo the drama, and manage anger.

The goal? To disagree in ways that won’t wound or separate you.

Even if all 5 signs aren’t currently occurring, isn’t just one enough?

Truthfully, the benefit of couples counseling is better utilized as prevention. You and your partner may feel less stigmatized by the thought of “professional help” if you think of therapy as relationship maintenance rather than a last-ditch effort at a marital miracle down the line. It’s a wise investment in your future together.

Claim the time counseling offers. Focus on your relationship goals. It can’t hurt.

Whether you need to refresh or rescue your relationship, you can begin improving your connection, together, with the support and encouragement available from sessions on your counselor’s couch.

To learn more, please visit my couples therapy page. To get help today, feel free to contact me to schedule a consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.

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