When Is it time for Couples Therapy?

As we go about living our lives, it is very common to struggle with relationship issues. When I see clients, there are often questions about when is the right time to seek out couples therapy. Is it possible for it to be too early? If it’s “too early,” does that mean the relationship is doomed right from the start? If you’re struggling with this in a similar way, this article is for you. 

Couples often choose to go to therapy when conflict has been present in the relationship for quite some time, and typically also when it has gotten to the point where one partner is stewing in rage, or completely resigned. If your relationship is at this point, it’s not necessarily too late for you, but it does add a couple of additional layers to the healing process in rebuilding your relationship.

Ideally, you go to couples therapy when…

1. You and your partner/Partners find that you’re misperceiving each other’s words or actions

You know, when you’ve asked your partner to unload the dishwasher every week even though you mutually agreed that it’s “their chore,” and all of a sudden you find yourself thinking that they don’t care about how much you contribute to the household. This type of thinking is an indicator that couples therapy could help your communication.

2. You and your partner/Partners are struggling with resentment towards the other person

Maybe you’re still thinking about that time when they said rude things about your brother, for example.

3. You and your partner/Partners are disagreeing on future plans 

You can’t figure out whether or not you want to move to the suburbs or stay in the city, whether or not you both want a wedding. Or even bigger: a family.

4. You and your partner just had a baby and are struggling to get on the same page

You can’t even seem to agree on whether or not to let baby “cry it out,” much less where to send them to daycare.

5. You and your partner disagree on a fundamental value for each of you

One of you prefers to spend weekends being lively and socially engaged at parties, and the other prefers to be at home recharging with Lassie.

6. You and your partner have just undergone a dramatic life transition

Maybe one of you lost a loved one, went through a big move, or graduated.

7. You and your partner have never disagreed in your relationship 

You’re one of those couples who say, “It’s just amazing, we’re always on the same page!” 

8. You and your partner have arguments that seem to go on for days 

You both apologize after day 7, but you “secretly” stew in anger for an additional 8 days or so. 

9. You and your partner are about to take the “next big step” in your relationship

You’re about to move in together or explore a new sexual dynamic.

10. You and your partner don’t talk about emotional topics with each other

You think about telling your partner about your bad day at the office but think, “They’re not going to know what to say anyway…”

11. You and your partner actively dislike your sexual/intimate life 

This looks like “I flinch when my partner makes moves on me…”  or “I’m no longer attracted or turned on by my partner.”

Maybe you have run into any of these scenarios, or maybe you have tried some 1 AM Google sessions to give you the answer on “whether to stay or go.” Ultimately, relationship issues are bred because of the relationship dynamic, which means you usually will need to mutually look at the dynamic together to make changes that would eventually give way to improvement. The real answer is that there is never a time that is too early to go to couples therapy if both partners are willing and open. With openness and hope, true change can happen.

Article written by Caroline Quintanilla, LCSWa licensed Chicago therapist who specializes in treating a variety of mental health disorders with evidence based treatments. To schedule an appointment with her or one of our other therapists, contact intake@cityscapecounseling.com

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