Written By: Katerina Fager, LCPC
When you have been in a relationship for some time, you might find yourself and your partner not communicating well and feeling stuck. As life goes on and you are dealing with work, kids, chores, and other daily responsibilities, you might find yourself feeling less connected to your partner.
According to relationship and marriage expert John Gottman, Ph.D., couples wait an average of 6 years to deal with their relationship problems. Sometimes the problems become so significant that the relationship is in severe crisis, full of resentment and even a couple’s counselor might not be able to help.
It is important to recognize potential problems and be more proactive in seeking professional help early. Many couples can benefit from premarital counseling and therapy sessions as a way to learn how to communicate and manage conflict before they get married.
No relationship is perfect and the opposites attract. Each partner brings their own ideas, values, opinions, personal history, and attachment styles that might be very different from the other partner’s.
Those differences you found very endearing about your partner at the beginning of your relationship, might be seen as an annoyance now.
Sometimes problems are there for the couple from the beginning and sometimes they surface over time. Some couples feel so disconnected and not able to communicate that they will try to avoid talking about their concerns and issues and that will lead to an even larger disconnect.
Whatever it is, distress can create tension, worry, sadness, and other problems for both partners.
In any relationship, both partners want to be heard, loved, and accepted, and therefore healthy communication is the foundation of all relationships.
A couples counselor can help you and your partner address underlying issues and help you practice new ways of expressing your needs, connecting with each other on a daily basis, and managing conflict.
A couples therapist allows couples to discuss their issues in a safe environment without going to old negative patterns of interacting. They will explore those negative patterns and help you to find new, healthier ways to communicate and connect with each other.
Couples counseling is about learning how to voice your disagreement in a respectful and loving way.
John Gottman, Ph.D., in his book The Relationship Cure, wrote: “It’s not that these couples don’t get mad or disagree. It’s that when they disagree, they are able to stay connected and engaged with each other. Rather than becoming defensive and hurtful, they pepper their disputes with flashes of affection. Intense interest and mutual respect”.
A healthy relationship starts with trust. Trust can be broken for many different reasons. Perhaps one partner may be having an affair; if you have secrets from each other; or maybe there is a financial secret that is causing a breach of trust, couples counseling would be beneficial.
If you and your partner are spending time without each other, feel disconnected, feel indifferent to infidelity, live separate lives, do not care for each other, feel indifferent about your partner and your relationship, then it is time to seek couples counseling.
If you and your partner struggle to get along and all communication leads to arguments, you feel stuck on unsolvable issues, you feel disrespected by your partner and the way you both communicate, you are unable to agree on anything, you get defensive and shut down, couples counseling can help you.
One of the initial signs of a deteriorating relationship is the lack of intimacy. It is not uncommon for your sex life to go a bit down over time; however, if you struggle to be intimate with your spouse, feel a lack of intimacy, feel averse to sex, couples counseling or sex therapy should be considered.
While the main goal of couples counseling might focus on resolving the issues that brought you to counseling, couples counseling goes much deeper than that.
According to John Gottman, Ph.D., in order for a relationship to last, partners must improve their friendship, learn to manage conflict, and look for ways to support each other’s hopes and dreams.
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained marriage and family therapists who specialize in couples and marriage counseling. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic on (312) 815-9660 or find a therapist by scheduling an appointment today.
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