Couples TherapyWhen, Where, and How to Seek Help for Relationship Challenges
- 29 June 2023
If you're facing difficulties in your relationship, you're not alone! It's common for couples to experience occasional distress, and up to 50% of married couples end up divorcing. Couples therapy is a proven way to seek assistance and work actively on your relationship.
Most people have heard of couples therapy; it's often the first thing that comes to mind when facing relationship problems. Perhaps you've landed here because you recognize that something is missing in your relationship.
When things get tough in a relationship, couples therapy is a way to seek help. In recent years, terms like preventive therapy, relationship check-ups, and relationship development have emerged. These approaches focus on working proactively on the relationship.
Couples therapy - What is it and when is it time?
Couples therapy is appropriate when you have noticeable relationship problems that you want help resolving. Have you drifted apart and long for closeness? Do you often misunderstand each other and argue about the same things? Or maybe you want to reconnect after betrayal, infidelity, or other challenges?
Most people who seek couples therapy have been experiencing problems for a time, often a couple of years or more. The reason it often takes time before couples seek help is because many consider it stigmatized, costly, and challenging to incorporate into their daily lives.
It's also common for one partner to feel a greater need to address relationship problems while the other is more content with the relationship, or unwilling to seek external help for various reasons.
Couples therapy - How does it work?
Couples therapy usually begins by identifying the common themes of your relationship problems together. The therapist then helps you both gain an understanding of each other's experiences in problematic situations and develop a shared perspective on the issues in the relationship ("us against the relationship problems").
You meet with the therapist regularly over time, sometimes as often as once a week, and plan to end the therapy when sufficient improvement has been achieved. Between sessions, you often work on assignments (depending on the therapeutic approach used by the therapist).
You can meet with a therapist in physical or digital meetings. The therapist is usually a psychologist or social worker. You share personal information with the therapist, who is bound by confidentiality.
Preventive or pre-crisis couples therapy
Preventive therapy or counseling is suitable for couples whose relationship is generally functioning well. However, there may be underlying issues such as communication difficulties or a lack of intimacy.
You may also feel that your relationship is on autopilot, and you want to reconnect and enjoy each other more. Nevertheless, your problems may not be severe enough to cause significant distress, and you may need more guidance in the right direction than regular therapy.
It's common to want to proactively work on the relationship before a major life transition, such as having children, getting married, or moving in together.
What are the most common relationship problems?
- Not appreciating, enjoying, or having fun when spending time together as a couple.
- Having recurring arguments or conflicts that lead to fights.
- Not feeling understood or seen by your partner.
- One or both partners withdrawing from each other.
- Feeling lonely in the relationship.
- Lack of closeness and warmth.
- Lack of trust.
- Not prioritizing the relationship or each other.
- Dissatisfaction with the sex life.
When to seek couples therapy for relationship problems - 4 signs
Relationship problems are common, with about 1 in 3 couples experiencing issues in their relationship. But when is it time to seek help, and when can relationship problems be resolved on your own? Here are 4 signs that it may be time to seek help:
1. It has become difficult to regain the feeling of closeness
Most couples have conflicts now and then, but if, after a conflict, you relatively quickly regain a positive feeling, it may not be problematic. However, if you find yourselves in a cold atmosphere for many hours or even days, it has a negative impact on your well-being and the situation risks worsening over time.
2. You get stuck in the same patterns over and over again
If you have repeated conflicts in recurring areas where, over time, you haven't improved in understanding each other and these conflicts become more charged and easily triggered, then you may need help from a couples therapy professional to break the pattern.
3. You engage in destructive behaviors towards each other
This can include frequently criticizing each other or speaking to each other in a contemptuous manner. Often raising your voice and shouting at each other during conflicts or using hurtful words are other examples.
4. You don't communicate and withdraw from each other
If it has become a general pattern where one or both individuals in the relationship avoid discussing important matters out of fear of conflicts or a cold atmosphere, you may need more help. In couples therapy, you get guidance in how to discuss emotionally charged topics in a calm manner, with an increased understanding of each other.
Strengthening relationships and resolving issues proactively with the app Ally
Perhaps your relationship problems aren't at a level that requires couples therapy. However, there are ways to independently work on preventing and resolving relationship issues. Ally is an app created by psychologists that enables couples to proactively strengthen their relationship and address issues before they escalate.
By drawing on effective couples therapy methods, Ally provides early intervention for relationship problems, empowering couples to navigate challenges and promote growth. The app is accessible and convenient, allowing couples to engage in therapy whenever and wherever they prefer. Ally serves as a proactive ally in cultivating a healthier, more fulfilling relationship, offering transformative support for lasting love and happiness.