For any long-term relationship, you’re sure to receive a lot of relationship advice, a lot of which will be unsolicited. However, there are times where you may want to seek out some sort of relationship advice, such as through couples counseling. If you and your true love are struggling, you might wonder if an LCSW, PhD, or another professional counselor may be a good fit for your relationship.
If you’re in this questioning stage, there are a few signs you can look out for that suggest couples counseling is right for you. Looking inward at yourself and your relationship with your spouse, you and your partner can determine whether a couples therapist can help get your marriage or other kind of relationship back on track.
1. You’re both willing to put in the work.
No relationship expert, be they a psychologist, therapist, or counselor, can guide you to a healthy relationship—much less a happy relationship—if both you and your partner enter counseling with a willingness to put in the necessary effort to make your relationship work. Can you commit to entering each therapy session with openness and vulnerability? Can you let go of resentment and insecurity, instead turning to forgiveness and a willingness to see things from your partner’s perspective? You can have the right partner and the best relationship advice in the world, but if you aren’t open to finding common ground, no amount of couples counseling will save your relationship in the long haul.
2. You’ve already made an effort.
A lot of hard work goes into building a healthy relationship, whether through relationship counseling or on your own. But, if couples therapy is the first and only thing you pursue to strengthen your relationship, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Before you seek out a therapist, it’s important to take a look at any negative behavior, be it yours or your partner’s behavior. If there are severe issues in your relationship already, you have a long way to go before couples counseling will be of use. Maybe there’s active infidelity occurring, or one partner drained their joint finances to fuel a particular vice. Even small gestures towards repairing these crisis-level concerns can make relationship counseling more effective. Think of it this way—just like with individual therapy, couples therapy can help you become a better person but won’t turn you or your partner into a different person completely. It’s up to you to have the strength to make necessary changes before, during, and after couples counseling.
3. You don’t think things are that bad.
Maybe you’re married to your best friend and, while there are little things that frustrate you, you don’t see yourselves as having the kind of relationship that needs couples therapy. Every couple has disagreements and faces various relationship issues, but you think scheduling more date nights on a regular basis can be enough to make a difference—maybe you just don’t spend enough time together to reignite the spark. However, marriage or premarital counseling is a great way for even happy couples to face their relationship issues in a healthy, productive way. Plus, you’ll be spending quality time with each session, with far more impact than regular date nights would be able to have.
4. You realize that things are bad.
Conversely, couples counseling can make a big difference when you’re well aware that your relationship is in dire straits. Maybe you’ve struggled with intimacy for a long time. When was the last time you made your partner feel butterflies? Or, perhaps you feel yourself losing your identity, setting aside your own needs to focus on your partner’s needs and wants instead. This doesn’t mean you have to sit and place blame, insisting your relationship issues are your fault or your partner’s. But it does mean that you know there are issues that need work, and you’re willing to put in the hard work that couples therapy inevitably entails.
5. You want third-party insight.
With any romantic relationship, you’ll receive plenty of relationship advice. Depending on the format this advice comes in, though, you might struggle to consider receiving it, much less implementing it. After all, even the best advice can’t help if you‘re turned off by it from the start. When you consult a counselor, a professional relationship expert in their own right, you can learn new ways to become the best version of yourselves and rebuild a successful relationship. Whether you’re learning to practice gratitude for your partner or improve your communication skills as a couple, you’ll find that couples therapy can make a big difference in everything, from recognizing and vocalizing your own needs to spending better quality time with your S.O.
Real couples utilize therapy sessions to improve their relationships every single day around the world. If you’re wondering whether a couples counselor may be the right fit for you and your S.O., consider these points, which indicate whether working with mental health professionals in this capacity can set you up for a more fulfilling relationship. After all, you’re planning to spend the rest of your life with this person—enjoying your relationship is a crucial component.
The most important thing, by far, is that you go into each marital counseling appointment with an open mind. By putting in the hard work both during couples counseling and beyond therapy sessions, recognizing the need to work on your relationship with your spouse or partner, and determining whether couples counseling is the right fit for you in the first place, you can pave your relationship’s next steps in a better way.
Each day, real couples determine the future of the relationship they share by deciding whether they might benefit from a couples counselor or therapist. They may realize that this is the best way to take their relationship to the next level, or they might be desperate for whatever third-party guidance might save their marriage. In any case, they‘re confident that they’ve found the right partner to stand beside for the rest of their lives, and they‘re ready and willing to put in the necessary work to strengthen their relationship.