Inevitably, all relationships have their ups and downs — and most of the lows are things that that the two of you can work through, so long as you are a united front, and if you are both willing to put in the effort to make the relationship work. Even the happiest and most loving couples have moments of tension and friction that, if left unresolved, can quickly grow into more serious issues and turn into toxic patterns that will doom the romance. Fortunately, before that happens, you might be able to spot the signs you need couples therapy so that you can fix the situation.
The question is: How do you know it's time to stop trying to work through all your problems on your own and set up an appointment with a therapist? There is no "wrong" time to do so, because there is nothing wrong with getting a professional helping hand, particularly when the future of your relationship is at stake. It's all about what feels right for you.
However, there are some situations where introducing a neutral party can be make or break for a couple, and so it's important to recognize if your relationship is headed down a bad path, before it's too late and you're past the point of no return. To help spot those signs, I reached out to the experts. Here is what they say are clear signs you need put a couples therapist on speed dial.
1. You have the same arguments over and over.
Do all your fights come with an intense feeling of déjà vu because it’s the same one over and over and over? If that's the case, Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Elite Daily it’s time to get some professional help to assist in breaking the cycle. “You have the same arguments over and over again and a couples therapist can teach you to identify which issues are situational and perpetual,” says Chlipala. “For the latter, those are the arguments that are recurring and need to be managed, not solved. We have tools for that!”
2. One of you is considering having an affair.
If you or your partner is seriously considering cheating, it's time to call in a professional. It’s possible that this is a passing phase, but Chlipala says “if you are noticing that other people or one person in particular is grabbing your interest, go to therapy.” Chances are there are underlying reasons why your eye is wandering and “a couples therapist can also point out the vulnerabilities in your relationship that can lead one to cheat,” explains Chlipala.
A therapist can also help strengthen your relationship moving forward, she says, by teaching you “how to affair-proof your relationship, too.” In other words, if you're thinking about cheat, run, don’t walk, to the couples' counseling couch.
3. You can’t stand conflict.
Conflict and arguing are not a ton of fun, but for some people it's so uncomfortable they will do anything to avoid it. Not arguing may sound good in theory, but in relationships, Chlipala explains, “Conflict is healthy and necessary for a relationship to grow. If you avoid conflict, you risk things such as unhappiness, resentment, and seeing your partner negatively and unfairly.” So, for the sake of your relationship, it's essential to learn how to tolerate conflict and “a couples' therapist can teach you skills on how to manage conflict effectively.”
4. You blame each other for everything.
Once resentful patterns have taken root in the relationship, and issues have gone unresolved, it can get increasingly easy to just start blaming the other person for all the things that have gone wrong. This is why couples' therapy is so important.
As Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills, family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent tells Elite Daily, it helps both partners to become more accountable again. “The first and most important thing a person learns by talking to a stranger, counselor, therapist, or clergyman is self-awareness and accountability,” says Dr. Walfish. However, she adds, “hearing your own voice verbalize problems and issues forces one to acknowledge their own shortcomings much better than hearing it from someone else.” Pointing the finger exclusively at your partner, she says, is “playing with fire!”
5. You’ve tried everything else to fix your relationship.
There may come a time in your relationship where you feel like you've done everything you can to resolve your issues and you just want to give up. If that happens, dating coach and relationship expert Susan Winter says you shouldn't give up quite yet. “If you and your partner have unsuccessfully tried every avenue possible to correct the issues disturbing your relationship, it’s time to enlist the help of a professional,” she tells Elite Daily. In order to salvage the relationship, it's going to take a lot of good healthy communication, and a couples' therapist can help be that conduit, says Winter, adding, “if resentments fester and there’s no resolution in sight, seek professional advice.”
If some or all of these signs are hitting home, it’s time to seriously consider making an appointment for you and your partner. Winter offers some advice on how to choose the right therapist for you. She says to “look for one that will listen to both of your points of view. It should not be your personal therapist, or your partner’s personal therapist. Their understanding of your joint situation would be skewed by pre-existing information. Rather, choose someone new to both of you.”
Taking this step may feel daunting or like your admitting your relationship is more troubled that you would like to admit, which can be scary. However, if it’s in a place where you do need help to get through a rough patch, it's better to take the plunge and get counseling than to continue down the path your on and likely lose the relationship, right? Don’t be ashamed to ask for help and to do it as a united front. That's the first step to getting back to being the team you once were, and could be again.