Not Sure When To Try Couples' Therapy? If You Have Any Of These 5 Problems, You Should Go
If I relied on everything I learned from romantic comedies, I would be convinced that after one week of dating is exactly when to try couples therapy. That's when Kate Hudson's character, Andie Anderson, dragged her new boyfriend, Benjamin Barry (played by Matthew McConaughey) to a couples therapist in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. To be fair, it was Barry who first suggested they try couples therapy after an explosive argument about Andie's coming over on guys' night.
If you don't remember the premise of the movie, it's like the name suggests. Anderson sets out to chase a guy away in 10 days as experimental research for her job, while Barry makes a bet with his coworkers that he could make her fall in love with him in the same amount of time. Under normal circumstances, they probably would have waited a bit longer before seeking the help of a couples therapist.
According to psychotherapist Jeffrey B. Rubin, Ph.D., who has worked extensively with couples, the best way to know if couples therapy is right for you is to try a session or two with a therapist you believe is caring, empathic, and insightful. He explains that it's especially worth considering if you've experienced one or more of these relationship problems with your partner.
You Frequently Get Into Heated Arguments With Each Other
How do you know if you're arguing with your partner too often? When your arguments begin to interfere with your overall mood and daily happiness. All couples fight but if you find yourself worn out from emotionally-exhausting arguments all the time, your relationship is probably taking a toll on your mental health.
The reason fighting makes for healthy relationships is because it's expected that you and your partner will eventually come to a mutual resolution. If you're fighting constantly, it's obvious this isn't happening. A couples therapist will be able to mediate your discussions and help each of you understand why the other is upset.
You Have Fundamentally Different Values Or Goals That Are Getting In The Way Of Your Relationship
For some people, this is a relationship dealbreaker but if you're willing to make it work, it's OK to ask for help. Let's say you've mapped out a life plan for yourself that includes college, grad school, and post-grad fellowships but your partner wants you to take time off to go backpacking across the world with them.
One option might be spending some time apart so that you can pursue your life goals separately. Another might be talking to a professional about ways you can reach a compromise that validates both partners' life choices and preserves the relationship you care so deeply about.
You Or Your Partner Feels Contempt For The Other Person
This isn't just about hating your partner. It's a blatant disregard for the other person's feelings, opinions, and well-being. You and your partner should always treat each other with respect. If one of you is constantly making the other feel worthless or unwanted in any way, you should address this problem immediately.
As the victim, it might be easier to explain to a couples therapist why you feel the way you do rather than to your partner. This way, you avoid having to initiate a difficult conversation on your own with someone who is often reluctant to hear what you have to say.
You Have Fantasies About Leaving Your Relationship
Being single has its benefits but if you're in a relationship, it's because you agree you have more to gain from life with your partner. When you begin lusting over your single life, you're saying to them and to yourself that you'd rather be alone than with them.
Often, this happens because you feel like your relationship has lost its spark or that you and your partner are stuck in a rut. Instead of breaking up, turn to a couples therapist who can help you remember why you fell in love in the first place and teach you how you can feel that way in your relationship every day.
You Or Your Partner Has Only Been Exposed To Poor Examples Of Relationships And Intimacy
Technically, this isn't your or your partner's fault. It has more to do with the types of love you were exposed to growing up than it has to do with your willingness to be in a relationship. Dr. Rubin says, "Poor or lack of healthy [relationship] role models increases the chances that a couple will not know how to handle conflict and may have excessively low expectations."
The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to work on changing your perceptions of love, romance, and what it means to be in a healthy relationship. Trust me, romantic comedies will not teach you how to love or be loved. Better to go with an expert on this one.
Even if you're ready to make an appointment with an experienced couples therapist like Dr. Rubin, your partner might be on the fence about it. Dr. Rubin says, "Explain to them that therapy is an opportunity to preserve and strengthen the relationship." There's nothing to be ashamed about.
Relationship goals aren't just about cute photos on Instagram. It's about making a commitment to show up and work hard on your relationship even when things aren't as glamorous.
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