Why do couples really come to counseling? You may actually be surprised! From my experience as a relationship therapist, here are the top 5 reasons couples really come to counseling and seek out my specific services. Get ready to check your assumptions!
I have heard it all. Generally speaking, these are the top 5 reasons why the majority of my couples say they are seeking out counseling. I wanted to write about this topic because I feel as though there is still a heavy stigma and misunderstanding about counseling in general. I hope that this post can clear the air and shake up your assumptions or misconceptions about counseling services and/or couples who seek them out.
[Order is ranked from most common to least.]
5 Reasons Couples Really Come To Counseling
Number 1 Reason Couples Really Come to Counseling: “To communicate better.”
We all want to learn how to communicate better, right? Conflict can erupt whenever we feel our partner doesn’t understand or hear us. This can be challenging to every and any twosome at some point of their relationship (regardless of how strong their relationship is).
“Learning to better communicate” is actually more about learning to listen better, as well as working on being more vulnerable with how you express your needs/perceptions/feelings. “Sometimes you just need a third party to help you understand where that missing link is.” Says a current client.
“It’s super helpful when Alysha can reflect what she’s hearing and seeing from both of our sides because we realize how much we aren’t hearing. She helps hold a mirror to our own behaviors and helps us better communicate what we really mean.”
Number 2 Reason Couples Really Come to Counseling: “To get closer.”
You may not realize this, but there is a large population of couples out there that actually seek out counseling services to improve their (already awesome) relationship! Couples are wanting to learn how to deepen their relationship for longterm success and fulfillment. Every day, I am humbled and relieved by the population of couples who actually choose to take this preventative and proactive stance.
“Premarital counseling” helps couples who are getting married learn more about each other and prepare for stressors and issues in the future. However, a lot of my couples are seeking out “preventative counseling” are already married, have no desire to get married or who are new in their relationship altogether.
“We have been coming to Alysha for 2.5 years and we rarely fight and have difficult conflict. We come to Alysha once a month to consistently strengthen our foundation so we feel more secure and connected. It’s been the best investment we have ever made.” Says a current client.
Number 3 Reason Couples Really Come to Counseling: “To prioritize their relationship.”
Let’s face it, we are SO busy as a society that we often don’t know how to slow down. We rarely have time for ourselves, let alone have the energy to prioritize our relationship sometimes.
Date nights often come out of necessity, (i.e. “want to grab dinner?”) purely for the fact that we both need to eat, not because we want to connect. We struggle with coping through our own emotions and stressors from the day that once we see our partner we are ready to just unplug, not re-engage.
There’s is nothing wrong with experiencing a rut or a routine that helps you unwind, I may add, but “the problem occurs when you’re so deep in the rut you can’t connect with your partner anymore.” Says Spencer Campbell of 5280 Magazine when describing his experience with The Modern Love Box.
My couples want to avoid this dilemma, or some may actually be experiencing a lack of connection because their routines and rut have consumed them. “Counseling for us is a regular time and place that we both commit to us, which forces us to get out of our regular day-to-day stresses and helps us be accountable to prioritize our relationship every other week.” Says a current client.
Number 4 Reason Couples Really Come to Counseling: “To talk through uncomfortable topics.”
Uncomfortable topics may vary from sex, money, values, to conflictual misunderstandings, to differing family dynamics. “Uncomfortable topics” are somewhat easy to avoid initially, but become more and more difficult to shy away from when your lives really start merging together. “Counseling is a safe, mediated environment that supports both of us when we have difficult things to discuss.
It has a way of keeping us from escalating immediately and getting defensive as we would at home, so we actually get to hear what the other person is trying to say. Counseling has been really helpful in learning to hear my husband and understanding him without jumping to my own conclusions about how he feels or what he thinks.” Says a previous client.
Number 5 Reason Couples Really Come to Counseling: “To heal and have healthy conflict resolution.”
And yes! Couples come to counseling because something really unfortunate happened and they can’t seem to “get over it,” or there has been a reoccurring conflict that they both are feeling stuck in.
Conflict is a part of a healthy relationship and we don’t always have the tools on how to effectively resolve it. “We kept having the same argument over and over again about petty things and we finally sought out counseling to help us figure out why and how to solve it. We were exhausted and feeling like we were barely holding on.
We didn’t want to hate each other (even though at times we were getting pretty close). We felt counseling was our best option to helping us resolve conflict and helping us really move on from issues.” Says a current client.
Why is the post important? Well, for many reasons. The main one being that we need support in normalizing counseling, mental health, connection and commitment in our society!
We need to re-frame the negative misconceptions of any resources that are out there that support love and healthy connections! We need to spread the word in helping others feel normal, confident and comfortable with going outside of their comfort zones and seeking support! There is nothing wrong with that!