Why You Should Start Couples Counseling Before Problems Arise in the Relationship
You wouldn’t know it from watching sitcoms, but many couples go years before experiencing any significant issues. Depending on when in life you found each other, your compatibility, and general dispositions, you could move through years of relationship stability without major hiccups.
In these relationships, most will wonder, “What’s the point of couples counseling for us? Why mess with success?”
These thoughts are based on a misconception about what couples counseling is and can do for your relationship. Behind these thoughts lies the idea that couples counseling only exists to fix relationship problems.
Of course, helping fix relationship issues is one facet of couples therapy. But it is and can be so much more than that. Couples counseling can also improve, bolster, and strengthen your bond and connection to keep minor issues from blossoming into larger ones.
Think of it like any regular upkeep; a little early maintenance can save you from complete overhauls and expensive repairs. Prevention is almost always more straightforward than the cure in everything, and relationships are no exception.
You can find the small pebbles
Imagine you have a small pebble in your shoe. If you’re simply walking to the postbox to collect your mail, this is a minor annoyance and probably something you don’t need to remove immediately. Now, imagine you’re running an ultra-marathon. How much wear and tear will this pebble cause over 50 miles? Suddenly this minor inconvenience can tear up your foot, upset your running pace, or even throw off your body’s alignment.
Because everything seems to be running well in healthy relationships, it’s easy to believe no pebbles exist. They’re hard to spot at first and more like a passing thought. Something as simple as a “but” at the end of a statement is the equivalent of a pebble in your relationship’s shoe. For example:
- Of course, we share responsibilities around the house, but I’m always the one that cleans the dishes
- We talk often, but it doesn’t feel as natural as before
- We are regularly intimate, but it sometimes feels like routine
Some buts will be absolutely normal in relationships. It’s unlikely that any couple strikes a perfect 50/50 balance on all chores, for example.
However, some of these minor concerns have a way of growing over time. A few nights of dishes is one thing. After 1,000 times, being the one to do the dishes can feel like a much more significant issue.
Couples counseling helps you find these small pebbles and deal with them before they grow into something more significant.
It’s important to note here: a skilled couples counselor isn’t looking for issues or trying to stir the pot. It’s not the goal or aim of any professional relationship counselor to create or manufacture drama. A skilled couples therapist is equipping you with the techniques you need to proactively address things you feel to avoid unnecessary drama.
You’re more receptive to support
Once you’re lost in a distressing pattern, one or both partners will grow defensive and have their guard up. This makes it more difficult for the couples counselor to find and deal with the root cause.
When you begin couples counseling before significant issues have sprung up, both parties are in a better place. They’re happy and focused on each other. With less defensiveness, both are typically more receptive to feedback from their partner or counselor.
This openness allows sessions to run more smoothly. More time can be spent on strengthening, rather than repairing, the couple’s bond.
You can more readily accept responsibility
Imagine you forgot to invite your partner to a social outing. A slight oversight like this is more easily addressed when the relationship is healthy. “Oh, I’m so sorry I didn’t realize you’d want to come. Of course, I’ll invite you next time.” Or perhaps, you share your side of the story leading up to your decision so that your partner understands it wasn’t personal. You can own that you upset them and offer repair..
But in a relationship with deeper-rooted issues, this problem can become more complex. Maybe forgetting to invite your partner reinforces their belief that you don’t like being around them or that you constantly forget them. So, instead of solving the issue, the argument spirals out into other areas. When arguments spiral out of control, you end up dealing with many little fires and not getting to the root of the original problem. No one can accept responsibility and take action, so nothing gets solved.
Unfortunately, it is often the case that the longer a relationship goes on, the more difficult it is for us to accept personal responsibility. Defensiveness and self-preservation will override our ability to effectively love our partner. Anger and resentment harm our ability to take responsibility, even when we know deep down that it was partly or entirely our fault.
When you begin couples therapy before major problems have presented themselves, it is much easier for both to take responsibility for their parts of the relationship without things escalating.
Couples counseling is not just about fixing problems
We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. Couples therapy is not just reactive. It can also be proactive help for relationships.
Instead of waiting for cracks to appear and then attempting to repair them, you can strengthen the foundation, so the cracks don’t show up in the first place. And if cracks do appear, you have the tools and techniques to handle them efficiently and not let them tear apart everything you’ve built.
Just attending couples counseling tells your partner you are committed and supportive of them and your relationship. You know your partner has your back and is willing to take active steps.
Your relationship is beautiful and worth preserving.
Couples counseling will strengthen the parts of your relationship that are most special to you, giving you the confidence to handle the more challenging times together.
I hope you’re in the beautiful relationship you’ve always dreamed of having. If you’d like to help your roots grow deeper and reach new levels of appreciation for each other, please reach out to me today.