All relationships have their ups and downs, that's the nature of a serious partnership, but how do you know if there's a real issue in your relationship that would benefit from couples therapy?
We asked Dr Laura Vowels, principle researcher and therapist at sex therapy app Blueheart, to share the signs that couples therapy or relationship counselling could make all the difference to your relationship.
Couples therapy signs: Frequent conflict that isn’t resolved
Arguments in any relationship are healthy. Naturally, conflicts will arise and you and your partner might find yourself disagreeing with each other. A healthy argument is one where you can express your thoughts, concerns and feelings over the matter at hand without it turning into a heated screaming match.
Frequently arguing (especially over trivial matters), name-calling, being aggressive or using the argument to spite your partner are all signs that you should probably see a therapist. It might be that all of these arguments are stemming from one main underlying conflict, in that case, therapy can help you. Therapy can also help you to learn how to communicate disagreements more effectively, respectively and calmly.
Couples therapy signs: Lack of connection or intimacy
A healthy relationship does not need sex to thrive, but if one of you is mourning the loss of your intimate life then this could be an issue. For some, intimacy and sex is a way of expressing love, commitment and appreciation for your partner.
Sex can sometimes help couples to feel more bonded, induce a sense of belonging and help them to feel closer. A couple may feel less connected when intimacy isn’t present. Therapy can help both couples to work through this conflict and find a happy medium.
Simultaneously, couples may experience that their sex drives differ, so even if they want to have sex, there are times when one partner might want sex but the other doesn’t and vice versa. In this case, there are certain techniques that therapy can provide you with to overcome this issue.
What is couples therapy?
A couples therapist helps you to identify issues or problems in your relationship in a safe, non-judgmental space where you can both talk openly about your feelings.
Couples therapy is a short-term commitment, usually six to 12 weekly hour-long counselling sessions with a qualified relationship therapist.
How do you find a couples therapist?
Relate offers relationship counselling with a qualified therapist at a centre local to you. Find out more here.
Couples therapy signs: Feeling depressed or hopeless because of difficulties in the relationship
If you realise that your relationship is a major source of anxiety – or you’re constantly feeling down from the issues you face within your relationship – then this is a surefire sign that you need to go to therapy.
Admitting that someone you love isn’t making you happy – or the relationship is the reason for your upset can be very hard. But a relationship is no longer healthy when it impacts your wellbeing.
Couples therapy signs: Loss of trust due to an affair/lying about something
Having trust issues within your relationship can be a major obstacle. Not only does it make you feel disconnected, but it can also leave you feeling unstable within the relationship. Time and time again you’ve probably heard that a healthy relationship is one that’s built on a foundation of trust.
Distrust in relationships isn’t always caused by one significant breach of trust, but rather several smaller instances over time. A broken promise here, a missed deadline there, and a pattern of unreliable, unethical, incompetent, or uncaring behaviour become the trend.
Therapy can provide a safe, secure, and confidential space to open up and mediate any tension or conflict.
Couples therapy signs: Having doubts about the relationship
Doubt is a very normal part of a relationship. Even if you’ve been together for years, from time to time you may doubt your and your partner’s compatibility, but this is quite natural. But if you’re constantly having doubts about your relationship, to the point you’re considering a breakup, then it’s time to see a therapist.
Therapy isn’t there to ‘fix’ your relationship but it can help improve the communication between you and your partner, and sometimes be more effective for resolving issues and conflict than if you tried to resolve them alone.
Therapy can give you the tools and techniques to help you deal with the problems that arise in your relationship, and you might find that after therapy, the issue you thought would break you has made you stronger as a couple.
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