Being in a romantic relationship is much like owning a car. You regularly put fuel in it and make sure it is running smoothly through regular maintenance.
It also represents a significant amount of investment in the form of time, effort, and feelings you put into it. This makes your relationship one of your most valuable possessions.
And, like when your car is having problems, you need to seek expert help when your relationship becomes strained.
Unfortunately, couples therapy has been stigmatized as some people see it as a sign of a couple’s failure to make their relationship work. But, like having your car checked by a mechanic, there’s nothing wrong about wanting to keep your relationship in good shape, whether it needs repairing or not.
This article aims to correct the common misconception that relationship counseling means a couple has failed to make their relationship work. It also tackles the reasons why you and your partner should seek this kind of help if only to make your bond stronger than ever.
Breaking the Stigma: 3 Benefits of Couples Therapy
Contrary to the common notion, attending couples therapy is not a sign that you have failed in your marriage or romantic relationship. In fact, you shouldn’t be ashamed of attending any kind of psychological therapy if it helps you get better.
Participating in this kind of therapeutic talk signifies your commitment to ensuring the success and health of your relationship. To break the stigma and clarify misconceptions about it, here are the top three benefits of seeking couples therapy:
1. Bolster a couple’s bond, even if they’re already in a successful relationship
Couples’ therapy is about both preserving the positive and solving the negative aspects of a relationship. Like working with your gym trainer to develop a workout for your physical health, couples therapy offers a way to enhance the experience of being in an already flourishing relationship.
Unlike what most people think, you don’t only seek relationship counseling when you’re having trouble with your partner. When you open up your relationship to a therapist, you expand your “toolbox” in appreciating, understanding, discovering, exploring, and connecting with your significant other. All this is meant to ensure that what you have with your partner will continue to grow.
2. Enhance one’s understanding of their partner
Understanding, as you already know, is beneficial for a romantic relationship. While you already recognize your partner’s way of thinking, couples therapy can still help take it one step further.
With a therapist’s help, you’ll be able to speak your “love language” – the unique way individuals express their love.
Based on a study by American psychological researcher and clinician Dr. John M. Gottman, successful relationships involve a deep and complex understanding of the other’s interior worlds.
With couples’ therapy, you get more acquainted with the “map” of each other’s interior world – your ambitions, doubts, desires, dreams, and joys. And when you understand the map, you are more likely to have a tight-knit and longer-lasting bond.
3. Handle conflict better
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. In fact, a couple with no negative interactions is no different from one with too much of them. It all boils down to how you handle it. When conflict arises, you must know the proper way of handling it.
But while this is expected from all people, no one is born with the knowledge to do so. Even worse, it is very rare that people are taught about it. With therapy, you get to learn the right way to handle conflict.
Many therapists use a list of phrases and sentences that may help deal with conflicts. Couples then try them out and see whether any of them incite any negative reaction on either partner. Once the negative phrases are removed, the pair can then resolve their conflicts with the positive ones that remain.
4 Signs You Need to Attend Relationship Counseling
Although couples’ therapy is often seen as a last resort for saving relationships in crises, it doesn’t have to be nearing the end before you seek counseling. Many people try this type of method for many different reasons, both big and small.
Below are four possible reasons why couples may need counseling:
1. Communication problems
Communication is arguably the most important aspect of a relationship. In the digital age, it has also evolved and is becoming less intimate as the years pass.
With couples therapy, a couple will learn how to choose the right mode of communication that will strengthen their love for each other and avoid those that are detrimental to the relationship.
Having children represents a significant change in a couple’s lives. And while this is mostly viewed as a good thing, couples who undergo this major change would still need to be guided through their emotions.
Remember that with kids come bigger responsibilities as well as less sleep, divided attention, and, potentially, more conflict. Physical exhaustion alone is enough to make your better half seem like an enemy rather than a partner in the endeavor.
With the help of a relationship counselor, both moms- and dads-to-be can put things in the right order and understand the others’ perspective to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. Ultimately, it can make the transition of raising a family much smoother.
3. Broken trust
Like communication, trust is a crucial aspect of a relationship. In fact, it is so vital that having broken it will make either partner lose faith in both their significant other and the entire relationship.
Remember that regaining trust and learning how to give trust after you were betrayed once can be a difficult and slow process. Often, it can be frustrating and painful.
With couples therapy, you and your partner can guide you through the entire process. While there’s no guarantee that the recovery time will become shorter, therapists can help ensure that you’re on the right track.
4. Processing extreme happiness
Couples therapy isn’t just a way to fix something that’s broken. It can also be a chance to maintain your pace and keep your relationship running smoothly.
For example, it can be difficult to relish the moment when you are overwhelmed with extreme happiness. In some cases, you might get lost in the day-to-day that you forget to process the feelings you have with your partner.
Couples therapy will give you a chance to do this productively and make sure that you appreciate what you have.
Like most psychological therapies, couples therapy has been subjected to wrong notions that make people who need it most decide not to seek it. Remember that, aside from helping solve marital issues, couples therapy can also aid in processing significant changes and make your romantic relationship even better.