Can Couples Therapy Help Us?
Relationships are a central part of our experience of life. Whether it is with family members, friends, colleagues, or intimate partners — it’s nearly impossible to go through life without creating some form of intimate connection. Romantic relationships, in particular, are highly desired and pursued, and we expend a great deal of energy attempting to make them work.
Yet, many struggle with relationship challenges and fail to master the art of being in a successful partnership. Seeking relationship answers from blogs, websites, books, and close friends and family members can easily leave anyone feeling stuck and defeated. When you can’t seem to make your relationship work, one practical option is to seek couples therapy. Couples therapy provides an objective examination of your relationship, creates a safe space to engage in constructive and healthy communication, and brings clarity about the longevity of your partnership.
Seeking Outside Support for Your Relationship
Loving someone deeply entails having a mental, emotional, and physical connection with that individual. Doing so can make it difficult to look at the relationship objectively. Other times, a partner may be afraid to step back and neutrally evaluate the relationship out of fear of unveiling problems. Some of the most common challenges that fracture a relationship include:
Change/difference in values or beliefs
Romantic feelings diminishing
Extensive work hours
No personal time or space
The therapist’s role in couples therapy isn’t to alleviate all problems for the individuals but to help the couple identify issues on their own and use healthy coping skills to manage. Settling into daily routines and experiencing severe stressors contribute to cracks in a relationship. Not only can stress overwhelm the relationship, but it also influences negative perceptions about the other partner. Attending couples therapy provides an objective environment to step outside the daily frustrations of the relationship and genuinely assess the cracks. The therapist is able to reflect the dynamics within the relationship and provide an objective observation for each partner’s role in the partnership.
Creating Space for Healthy Dialogue
It isn’t uncommon for intimate partners to release frustrations and assign problems to one another during couples therapy. You and your significant other may also feel the urge to turn couples counseling into an
individual therapy session. Regardless of the level of engagement and reactions, the therapist will structure, mediate, and guide communication within couples therapy.
The therapist also has the opportunity to witness first-hand how a couple engages in tough conversations by monitoring how both partners exchange emotionally intense statements during sessions. The therapist uses the insight gained in session and recommends better methods of communication, effective strategies to articulate thoughts, and practical tips for creating a respectful space for constructive dialogue. Couples therapy provides a competent expert who will witness challenges play out in real-time, and guide the couple’s interaction towards a healthier way of engaging and appreciating each other.
Oftentimes, the aim of couples therapy is misinterpreted, as we assume its only purpose is to bring partners closer together and fix previous problems. In addition to providing a safe space for healthy communication and work towards resolutions, couples therapy can also provide clarity on the longevity of the relationship. If you find yourself unsuccessful or unprepared to put in the work, then it is possible that the relationship may be stuck at an impasse. If this is the case, a couples therapist can help guide the separation process in an intentional, healthy way.
Although relationships can provide physical and emotional support, you may discover in couples therapy that the relationship may actually be the source of ongoing problems and stress. By fully participating in couples therapy, you can receive honest feedback and make informed decisions on the course of your relationship.
Common mistakes individuals make in couples therapy that may hinder the progression of the relationship or healthy separation include:
Not engaging in treatment, during sessions or between
Criticizing the other partner for disclosing “too much” personal information
Focusing on vilifying the other partner
Wanting the therapist to “take sides” during disagreements