4 Reasons the Strongest Couples Seek Therapy
If you’ve found your way to my work, you’re most likely already a significantly self-aware, highly-conscious, relationship-oriented person. You’ve probably already done quite a bit of work exploring your inner world. You’re not afraid of introspection or owning your part in a relationship.
However, even those who’ve undergone extensive self-therapy can battle misconceptions about couples counseling. We may have underlying beliefs that counseling is only useful for troubled relationships. Or – at the very least – we might hold the view that going to therapy would challenge an underlying “story” we tell ourselves about having a strong relationship.
In fact, whether you need acute care (often surfacing as a result of big life changes – babies, career changes, moves, betrayals, disconnection, etc.) or are generally seeking to enhance the relationship (sometimes we notice a desire for change upon birthdays, anniversaries, family gatherings, or due to other catalysts), seeking professional help points to your strength and self-awareness as a couple. It’s certainly not a weakness!
We’re always encountering new challenges and evolving as individuals – so a healthy relationship must be nimble enough to adapt as each person grows, and as our relational lives evolve.
The strongest couples know to seek support early and often. We attend couples therapy for relationship maintenance. We attend couples therapy to enhance our lives.
I see at least four main reasons that strong couples seek therapy: support, resolution, growth, and respect for the relationship itself. Let’s look at each.
1. GOOD RELATIONSHIPS BENEFIT FROM EXTERNAL SUPPORT.
By taking the step to prioritize our emotional health and relationships, we reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Seeking support in the form of couples counseling happens when partners value the relationship and value growing together.
It helps to view both partners and the relationship itself as 3-dimensional entities – living, breathing, and ever-changing within an environment.
If the tendency is to think a relationship has no issues at all, it could actually signal a lack of awareness about what’s happening within it. The individuals could be drifting apart. Or one may not be able to see how another’s needs are changing.
“Happily ever after” is a myth and an antiquated notion of what a good relationship requires. Awareness, kindness, and attention are deeply needed to form healthy relationships – and they require some degree of proactivity and effort.
2. MOST RELATIONSHIP ISSUES CAN BE MEANINGFULLY RESOLVED.
Couples work can shine a warm and welcome light on any issues. Examining sensitivities with this kind of care is the best way to clear up misunderstandings and resolve conflicts, hurts, and wounds. Most issues can be fully and meaningfully resolved.
Even if problems aren’t completely obvious or visible, they have symptoms that you may already see more clearly. If left unresolved, the initial problems may start to ooze out in strange ways. Those problems can create more problems.
Additionally, it’s important to know which areas of conflict are NOT a matter of communication – but perhaps something deeper, like a conflict of values or matter of personal preference. In therapy, we learn which issues can be resolved, and which might remain differences that can only reach a state of mutual acceptance or agreement.
3. A GROWTH MINDSET HELPS US REACH NEW UNDERSTANDINGS
Having a growth mindset is important to reaching new understandings in relational work.
When we allow ourselves to continue to be curious about each other and the relationship – and confident that whatever we find, we’ll be okay – we’re better able to grow.
Only a “fixed” mindset forces us to believe that we need to make everything “fine,” in order to cope. Expansion requires letting go of the idea that everything’s okay. Curiosity can be a catalyst for this growth.
Also, the point of a long term partnership is mutual healing. Working with our partners on our emotional growth today is an opportunity to heal old relational wounds from childhood. No matter how we perceive our childhood overall, we’ve all had moments of disconnection or hurts that forced us to cope – in whatever way a child could cope. Working on these moments as conscious adults, we unearth new ways of relating not only to our partner but to our entire universe.
“You realize that your relationship has a hidden purpose – the healing of childhood wounds. Instead of focusing on surface needs and desires, you learn to recognize the unresolved childhood issues that underlie them. Everyone has something missing from childhood, since parents are not perfect. But many go into marriage having no idea of why they are attracted to their spouses, especially as it relates to their childhood. Many simply bury the difficulties of childhood, but in a conscious marriage, you consider these.”
– Harville Hendrix
4. WE SEE THE RELATIONSHIP AS THE CLIENT
Couples counseling is a space of vulnerability, hard work, and bravery. It’s space-holding, intentionality, and truth-telling.
The best therapists are trained to hold the relationship as a client. They may hold us accountable and call out any behaviors that require extra attention. They may even tell us that the relationship – in its current form – isn’t working. But they shouldn’t take sides.
Couples counseling has to feel like the right fit for both partners; it really has to feel like the therapist can “get your world.” Both partners have to feel safe. This requires deep care in selecting a practitioner that suits each person involved.
I recommend starting with a consultation to evaluate fit and discuss any hesitations. Exploring couples counseling means giving yourself the space to notice any fears that arise… while retaining enough curiosity about your relationship and your potential to keep reaching out until you get the excellent care you deserve.
When we work on our primary relationships the benefits are vast and wide-reaching. Loving fully and learning to communicate well leads to greater happiness and fulfillment in relationships and in life itself.
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I love to welcome new couples in my practice – those who are looking to really do the work. If you think that I could help, or find my flavor of support appealing, please book a consultation to secure your spot on my schedule.