In relationships, sometimes we aren’t equipped with the tools to overcome certain problems or get through certain obstacles together. It takes a lot to be completely honest with your partner. Being brutally honest takes courage, and sometimes it is hard to say what is really on your mind without worrying about the backlash (circle back on having the right tools!). The secret is you don’t have to wait until you are on the fence to head to counseling.
Here is a list of reasons why you might consider seeing a relationship counselor:
- You or Your Spouse is Pregnant - There's arguably nothing that will change your relationship more than having children. You need to share love and attention, live with no sleep, quadruple your responsibilities, and keep another living being alive. The fatigue alone is enough to make you less than pleasant, to say the least. Plus, you must deal with changing bodies, a new budget... the list goes on. Having someone else to talk it out with can make your transition much smoother. Talking to someone before the big arrival will make a big difference, and make you less likely to be seeking a way out of the relationship.
- There’s a Lack of Sex - If you're having a lack of sex that's more than the common occasional dry spell, you could be feeling disconnected from your partner. Talking to a therapist can help you reconnect, or explore other contributing problems, like lack of self-esteem, poor time-management, or boredom. And if your low sex drive is medical, your therapist can help point you to the medical resources you need.
- For That One Lingering Problem - All couples have problems and disagreements, and sometimes they have to agree to disagree. Some problems, however, aren't as simple as being willing to look the other way. If one of you wants children and the other doesn't, for example, you may need help navigating that issue. If you can't agree on anything, your therapist can teach you how to compromise and make sure you're making decisions fairly.
- When Dealing with Infidelity - Some couples come back from cheating and end up closer than ever. Some can never get past it. When infidelity strikes your union, you will probably need help learning to forgive the betrayal. Then you'll have to work to rebuild trust. All that takes a ton of communication and love, and the ability to be sad and angry in a healthy and constructive way. It's complicated stuff and there's no shame in needing guide.
- Before a Break Up - Most couples think of therapy as the last straw to grasp at before the big breakup. Couples therapy is not a magic wand for a broken relationship, but it can help you understand what's not working, which is essential if you want to save your love and your relationship. And if you discover in therapy that you truly shouldn't stay together, you'll have a built-in safety net for ending things amicably and talking out your feelings.
- When You And/Or Your Partner are Dealing with Mental Illness - If you're already in therapy because you suffer from depression, anxiety, or other common brain disorders, you might want to bring your partner into the fold. Your therapist can help your partner understand your triggers and symptoms, which I can say from experience is both eye-opening and life-saving. Not everyone in therapy has a mental illness, but for those who do, having an experienced professional to guide your partner through the difficulties is a big plus.
If you are coming up with some of these reasons in your own relationship, don’t wait until you already have one foot out the door. An experienced counselor can help you navigate some of your relationship’s greatest challenges.