It is all a dream come true to think of spending the rest of our lives with the person we love. We finally got our fairytale that we have looked very much forward to. This is what we know. What we expect. The rose petals. However, not forget, that roses come with thorns. Couples therapy can become a hand to help you either get rid of the thorns or minimize the damage. Tieing the knot ties you to the responsibility of making your family life work, and it is really not that hard, as long as both of you are on the same page.
What is couples therapy?
When two people feel like their marriage or relationship needs work, they can meet experts who are willing to help them. This therapy type is based on individuals’ needs, the couple’s needs, and how and what to change for the marriage to work. However, it is understood to be best if couples reach out for help before it is too late. Two people should not wait until their relationship is nothing but crumbs in order to start working on it again. Ignoring symptoms of an unhealthy marriage for too long may lead to cheating, fights, depression, and ultimately an unsuccessful marriage ending up in divorce. Or worse, having to tolerate each other for the sake of children.
The therapist that will be helping a couple is an experienced professional. Their job is to guide couples into their lost romance and find intimacy, love, acceptance, and overall a healthy relationship. However, couples may not find the best therapist until they have tried a few. Make sure to take advice from a therapist that you feel helps and understands you best.
Why is couples therapy important?
It is easy to drift apart when both of you get progressively busy with life. The sex may get boring. Too much time spent with each other will uncover a lot of hidden pet peeves. In other words, everything can get slightly annoying day by day. Gradually, fights over the smallest things will be constant. Yelling and ignoring each other, and communication issues, wanting to stay away from each other for as long as you can, are all signs of a bigger problem. It is all-natural and to be expected. The point is to be the one to pull the other back in if the distance is getting too big. You have to notice the changes and try to fix them. But are you trying alone? Are you fixing it alone? Does no amount of trying or fixing work? That is when you may need professional help.
There is no magic recipe to fix your relationship. Couples therapy will allow you space; safe and neutral, to explore these issues and find solutions. Chances could be so bad that your relationship may not recover and each of you will have to consider moving on alone. However, what is definite is, if you do not take those chances by meeting a therapist, you will definitely be in a failed relationship. Couples therapy helps you understand the problem and what exactly to do about it. The process will guide each of you on how to find the lost warmth and intimacy to bring back the flames. These instructions, if followed well, will give your family life a new birth and both of you a chance to live in a way that will further keep the marriage alive.
Effect of couples therapy on children
Constant fights between parents can have a long-lasting impact on their children’s mentality. Watching the arguments, hearing the issues over and over may lead them to lose respect for either one or both parents. Ultimately, they may need therapy to fix themselves of the damage done due to parents’ conflicts. It is always an ugly situation when parents out their issues in front of the kids and fail to resolve these issues themselves. This can lead to a child growing up with insecurities, damaged bonds with parents, trust issues that can eventually lead to relationship problems, behavioural problems while having a pessimistic outlook on life.
By handling the issues in your marriage before things get ugly can prevent these terrible outcomes. Your children will know you are struggling but they will also know you are trying. They will witness your growth and advancement and will support you to overcome your struggles. It is important that your kids know you are trying to save the family. However, the process will also help them understand if the two of you have to go separate ways. Knowing you tried to do otherwise will lessen the negative impact.
Your children look up to you. The decisions you make to ensure their health and mentality will give them a good example of decision making.
Does your relationship need marriage counselling?
Observe if these issues are present in your relationship. If they are, it is time to seek professional help.
Not talking to each other
If the two individuals find peace in cutting down communication as much as possible and try their best to avoid each other, there’s a problem. All the bigger issues are created due to the lack of communication. Without talking to each other, you will not know what issues the other one is facing. This is when a third person should be involved to give each of you the chance to talk and figure things out.
Every conversation is negative
A negative conversation generally means that talking to your partner leaves you upset. It can be due to judgemental issues, racism, being rude or careless, insensitive, etc. If the conversations you are having are likely to always end up in a fight, disagreement, or making each other upset, it is time to seek help. Chances are, there is a much bigger issue causing this and can lead to severe mental abuse if left unresolved.
Being afraid to communicate
Being afraid to tell your partner how you feel is a very bad sign. This can be due to how he/she reacted the last time you did and has caused mental abuse, which scares you to project your opinion. These issues can be as simple as asking your partner to close the window to talking about annoying habits. Your therapist will help you identify these gaps and advice you on how to work better with each other.
Everyone is entitled to a certain level of privacy. However, the increased amount of secrets that you hold for yourself and don’t share with your partner may be a sign of a bigger issue.
Fantasizing sexual encounters with other people
Do you find yourself wanting to have an intimate relationship with someone other than your spouse? Are your cheating impulses growing on you? Are you already cheating? At this point, if you need your current marriage to work, you definitely need professional help. Cheating in most cases is a deal-breaker. However, these occurrences may have a bigger issue behind them that needs to be talked about. Your chances are better if you seek couples therapy before you commit adultery.
Waiting for the other one to change
You can only change yourself, by yourself. Waiting for the other one to change and for everything to go back to normal may be a long time or a never-ending waiting. This may be due to you being unhappy while the other one is doing fine. However, hiring a therapist at this time will help both of you understand what is going on.
Noticeable changes in the sex life
If the both of you can’t seem to please each other, this may become an issue. While it is normal that the original spirit of new sex dies down eventually, being bored of each other all at once may be a problem. Also, if sex has turned wild and constant all of a sudden, there is a possibility that your partner may be doing something wrong and that they are trying to compensate for that by sex. Don’t jump to conclusions. Maybe your partner just wants to spice things up. Reach out for professional help if necessary.
Persisting arguments over the same issues
Everyone has triggers that throw their anger over the moon. Sometimes it can be as simple as leaving the bed unmade or not turning a fan off. Partners may be confused as to what causes these triggers and why they make their partner so aggressive. Thus, these simple issues can lead to arguments and upsetting each other. A therapist will help in identifying these hidden issues and help each other to healthier family life.
These are not the only kinds of problems that will urge you to look for help. Any time you feel like your marriage is falling apart, you should consult a marriage counsellor to make sure things get better.
Techniques used in couples therapy
Therapists will use a few different methods to identify the underlying issues in your relationship. These can include different activities as well. Below are some of those.
Reflective listening during couples therapy
During this, the partners are supposed to become active listeners. It boosts healthy communication and the ability to resolve conflict. Couples are advised to project their feelings, instead of blaming the other.
Uncovering the hidden causes during couples therapy
Most of the time, the small constant arguments happen because of a bigger issue that is irritating the partners. To add to that, these issues are often unresolved. Your therapist will help you identify these underlying issues to advise you better.
Teaching quick resolving options
Even the smallest conflict won’t go far if repaired quickly. The therapist will advise on how to behave when one of the partners is having a meltdown. Resolving an issue quickly will stop things from getting uglier. Both the partners will be helped to find the middle ground.
Couples are advised to project their problems and feelings, by narrating them. This helps them understand the faults better, by looking at their stories from a different perspective. This is specifically for people who believe they are a failure.
Support system advice
Your therapist will uncover your partner’s dream and help each of you to support each other. An important part of being each other’s most reachable person is to be supportive throughout their fails and wins. Your relationship must create this environment and your therapist will help you with it.
Dig into unresolved issues
There may have been past experiences in your relationship that may still be affecting each other. Or it can be an incident one of the partners went through in a previous relationship. Your therapist will try to identify if these problems are present in your marriage. This includes suggesting other sorts of treatment for one or both of you, who may still be suffering due to a past traumatic experience.
Teaching anger management
Raging anger can send both partners into distress. The minute you let that out may be peaceful, but having to watch your partner upset and feeling guilty for your actions may lead to a lot of apologizing but irreversible damage. It is really important to control your impulses. If the therapist finds this to be an issue, they may help you with activities or recommend treatment methods.
Activities recommended during couples therapy
These are some of the recommended activities by therapists to increase the quality of the relationship outside of sessions. Some of them are focused activities. Most are general activities that can be practised by anyone to have a quality relationship.
Appreciating someone’s efforts is a very basic human quality. However, being way too busy can easily have us miss the efforts of the other, and support. Noticing your partner’s progress, the effort they put in for you, and every small detail, and being appreciative bridges the gap between two people. It also helps one see how hard the other works.
Find topics to engage in
Ask them something other than what is for lunch or how was work. Try and ask them when they decided to engage in the job they are doing. Ask them why they chose the city you live in and not his hometown. Tell them what you think. Engage in conversations you never had before. If you see your partner making these efforts, make sure you do your half and keep up the conversation.
Don’t be blind to their affection
I know you are used to him coming and sitting with you when you work late at night. You may be used to her bringing your plate to the bed when you are home after a long day. This is how each other express their love. Identify these small things and be concerned if you notice a difference. Ignorance or being unappreciative will upset your partner.
The 5 love languages are,
- physical touch
- quality time
- words of affirmation
- acts of service
- receiving gifts
Try not to bring home the heat outside
Coming home and terrorizing your family because you had a bad day at work does not help. You can talk about it with your partner and let out your frustration. Make sure it does not get the best of you. Home is everyone’s safe haven. It should not be turned around because of one bad day.
There are a dozen more activities a couple can engage in to fix their love life. Your therapist will recommend the most suitable ones.
How can you make the best of couples therapy?
It is ideally necessary for both partners to be present at the sessions. Their thoughts on different topics play a major role in identifying the issues. However, some partners show up to therapy without putting in the rest of the work. It is important that both partners follow up with the activities and advise and give in a genuine effort to fix their relationship.
Also, if you are fundamentally judgemental, racist, or sexist of the rest of the world, including your partner, you may find it hard to get to any success without dealing with these issues first. If you can’t respect your partner, it is unlikely that they will be happy with you.
It is also necessary that you still love your partner. If you don’t, it is possible that you may not put in the required work. Couples therapy takes dedication and you need to ask yourself if it is worth it.
You should also be open to advice and change. Holding your ground is okay, but not when you visit a therapist who will eventually point out a flaw in you and ask for you to change it for your benefit. It is unlikely that these changes are extreme or absurd. Both partners will have issues with them. The point is to identify them and be willing to change whatever is necessary to make sure your partner is at ease.
There is a chance that you may be too late to seek help. Also, if one of you is set on divorce, addicted to substance abuse, or is unwilling to change, chances are your relationship will not get any better. In this case, you may be suggested to consider separation.
Your therapist will only guide you. Putting in the work to save your marriage is your responsibility.