When most people think of couples’ therapy, they tend to imagine a brawling, dissatisfied couple on the brink of divorce. It’s hard for most people to believe that therapy is actually something every couple can benefit from, even those who have a ‘normal’ amount of arguments and miscommunications.
The average couple’s resistance to marital therapy was made evident by a recent survey which found that only 19% of currently married couples have sought therapy. Additionally, two-thirds of divorcing couples never sought therapy before calling it quits. While not all couples desire to go to therapy, it is crucial to discuss issues before they go too far or before the relationship becomes so damaged that it cannot be saved.
Wondering if you are a good candidate for couples’ therapy? Check out the most common issues that couples tackle in therapy:
- Infidelity: Whether it was a full-blown affair or merely a step in that direction, couples’ therapy can be invaluable in helping couples to repair after an affair. Therapy gives you a safe place to talk through your anger and resentment, and your therapist can also offer you tips on how to work those issues at home as well. Most importantly, therapy can help you to learn why the affair happened in the first place. Infidelity doesn’t just happen—there is almost always a reason behind it, and discovering that issue and treating it will be an important step in moving forward and avoiding infidelity in the future.
- Considering divorce: Many couples go to therapy when they have already discussed divorce. Counseling is often viewed as a last-ditch effort in an attempt to save the marriage. Sadly, by the time couples reach this point, one or both of them may have emotionally checked out of the relationship, meaning that it will be that much more difficult to fix the marriage. I always advise couples to seek therapy before they reach the ‘make it or break it’ point of a relationship. Not only will it save you plenty of heartache, but you will have an easier time fixing your bond.
- Sexual concerns: Some couples opt for sex therapy. In sex therapy couples can find ways to recommit to their sexuality, whether that means trying something new and erotic like role-playing or simply tossing out those old sweatpants and bringing out the lingerie. They might also talk about their sexual fantasies and discuss their desires. Sexual issues such as mismatched libidos, sexual response issues, and physical conditions like erectile dysfunction might also be discussed along with ideas to troubleshoot these issues.
- Can’t get along: Sometimes people come to therapy because they are sick of constantly arguing with one another. Some couples fight like cats and dogs without even really knowing why, and with therapy, they discover the issues behind their anger and work on better ways to communicate. Many arguments often come down to lack of communication or different communication styles, and your therapist can help you to fix this and find peace once again.
- Healing after trauma: Whether it is the loss of a loved one, illness or another a traumatic experience, therapy can be crucial in helping couples to heal after trauma. Moving past the grief, anger, and confusion that follows traumatic experiences is difficult, and most people find that they need help in getting past the hurt and finding happiness once again.
- Loss of attraction. Most people barely have time for date night, let alone sex. As the passion dies, so do the sparks, and couples find themselves treating each other like platonic roommates rather than lovers. While some loss of excitement is a natural part of a long-term relationship, it is very important to make sure that you and your partner still keep that sexual part of your love life alive. Therapy can be an important tool in helping you do that, and most couples find that their connection improves simply talking through their issues and tackling them head-on.
These are some of the most common issues that bring couples into therapy, but there are many more possible reasons. It could just be that you want to spend a little more time on your relationship and that you want to focus on your partner. Regardless of your reason, don’t be afraid to check out therapy and don’t assume that it means your relationship is in trouble. Instead, it means that you are committed to improving your bond and working through your issues as a team—and what could be better than that?