Most people begin relationships filled with optimism and excitement about the future. The Honeymoon Phase may last months, sometimes even years.
Eventually, however, challenges will arise that test a couple. Issues such as how much time to spend with each other’s families, when and if to have children, how often to have sex.
When those challenges arise you may find yourself questioning whether your relationship has the ability to survive.
The experience may leave you feeling frustrated or uncertain about your future as a couple.
Most often people navigate through tough times without outside assistance.
But how do you know when it's time to get outside help?
Therapy can be intimidating for many people. Couples may worry that seeing a therapist means they're failing at their relationship.
Choosing to see a therapist is NOT a sign of failure.
Entering couples therapy means you're committed to finding ways to heal and grow.
You're wise enough to know when your relationship needs outside support.
Here are five signs that your relationship may benefit from couples therapy:
The Majority Of Your Communication Is Negative. Are you and your partner constantly picking each other apart? Do your find yourself criticizing, shaming, calling each other names or disregarding each other's feelings. Or are you using nonverbal communication--eye-rolling, emotionally/mentally "checking out" during a discussion or closed off body language?
Note: If things have spiraled into emotional or physical abuse then outside help is absolutely necessary.
You Never Argue...AT ALL. Think you're in the clear because you and your partner never argue? Nope. Never arguing may suggest that one or both of you are avoiding difficult topics that require attention. Not arguing is not necessarily a sign of peace; it may be a sign of being checked out of the relationship. What are you not saying that needs to be said? Believe it or not, happy couples argue! The goal shouldn't be to never argue. Instead focus on learning to argue without criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling which Dr. John Gottman has identified as the (4) predictors of divorce.
There Has Been Some Form of Betrayal. Betrayal comes in many forms--infidelity, making financial decisions behind your partner's back, emotional affairs, choosing friends/family over your partner. The damage caused by betrayal can leave a long-lasting negative impact. If left untreated, it has the chance of eroding the quality of your relationship. Has there been an injury to the relationship that still requires healing? Did you really forgive and move forward or are you holding onto resentment?
You Have Begun To Live Separate Lives. If you have begun to behave more like roommates than a romantic couple you may need to see a therapist. Spending time together does not guarantee intimacy. Ask yourself if you're just going through the motions of everyday life or if you feel connected to one another. There's a huge difference! Two people can live in the same house and still be worlds apart. How much intimacy is being shared in your time together? Couples' therapy may be essential if you're also finding yourself in a relationship with someone else where there is a potential for romantic feelings to develop.
Your Sex Life Has Changed Dramatically. Changes in your level of sexual desire are normal. Everyday life can often put a damper on couples’ sex lives. But if you are noticing major shifts in your sex life (you're now having little to no sex or you are having a lot more sex than you ever did before) this may be an indication that something else is happening. Maybe the quantity hasn't changed, but has the quality dramatically changed? If sex has become more of a task than a way to connect and have fun you may want to consider seeing a therapist--one that specializes in sexual health challenges.
Disagreements and problems are not necessarily an indication of an unhealthy relationship (the exception is ongoing verbal, emotional, and physical abuse).
Instead, HOW couples manage their challenges is what determines the quality of their relationship.
If you're struggling to communicate or understand one another you may want to consider seeing a couples/relationship therapist.
The therapist's office will offer a safe place for each partner to begin healing, learning new coping skills, and practicing healthy ways of interacting.
Don't despair if one or more of the signs above apply to your relationship.
The notion that love should be easy is a LIE!
There's no doubt that relationships can be rewarding and boost our well-being, but they also require attention, nurturing, and patience.
They require WORK!
But if the work has become too much to do on your own find a professional therapist who will provide the support you need.
Your relationship will thank you for it!
DISCLAIMER: THE RELATIONSHIP & SEXUAL WELLNESS CENTER blog is not intended to be a substitute for legal, ethical or medical consultation or for treatment and is strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. Nothing found on the website or email is a substitute for professional psychological, psychiatric or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition.