Couples counseling often gets a bad rap as the place you go to try and save your relationship from a breakup or divorce. While this can be the case — as counseling can offer a variety of skills and techniques to improve a relationship that’s in need of assistance — couples counseling can also be a great tool for those trying to grow in their relationships, be better partners to one another or embark on a life change together.
Counseling of any kind can act as a great place for learning more about yourself, and the same can be true of your relationship. Counseling isn’t always about fixing something. Often, it’s about learning to communicate better with each other. While going to therapy might not seem like the most appealing date night activity, it can offer so many benefits, and maybe even spice things up a little.
Whether you’re experiencing a rough patch or you’re coasting smoothly, there are plenty of ways that couples counseling can help you feel more satisfied with your relationship.
Whether you’re working through a problem where both people think they’re right or you’re trying to understand one another’s feelings more accurately, having another person — specifically a qualified professional — in the room can help you see eye to eye. Having a counselor there while you and your partner work through something can hold you both accountable for your words.
While reaching complete neutrality isn’t always possible, seeing a counselor is a unique experience, especially when compared to asking advice from someone who already knows one or both of you. Going to someone who specifically focuses on understanding you both as individuals and as a team can help you both feel seen and heard.
A great example of how couples counseling can prepare you and your partner for a life change is premarital counseling and its success in helping couples achieve satisfaction in their marriages and avoid divorce. Premarital counseling — like any couples counseling when you’re preparing to make a big life change — can push you to consider the small details, as well as the big picture of how the relationship will change going forward.
Professionals have seen relationships over and over, so they know what pitfalls to look out for and what conversations need to be had when making a change like moving or considering marriage. Going to counseling can help you gather the information you need about yourself and your partner in order to make big life decisions and go through changes together.
How do you get to a big life change? You have to make a decision together. Couples counseling can help you balance out decisions and work better as a team so that both of your needs are being met in fair, productive ways. No relationship is perfect, but counseling can bring a bit more balance to decision making if it feels like the decisions aren’t usually share equally in your relationship.
Holding yourselves accountable in your decisions is all about looking realistically at your actions and emotions, which is easier to get used to when an external party is helping you both in that task.
Perhaps one partner behaves more dominant in decision making and the other feels a bit left behind. Or maybe one partner is passive and the other feels tasked with the responsibility of decision making all the time. If either of these sound like you, counseling can help with finding a middle ground.
If your relationship feels stale and it’s causing unhappiness in one or both partners, counseling can help address that. However, you don’t have to be bored in order to spice things up a bit. Even if you’re happy with your partner, there’s no harm in engaging in activities that help you grow and discover new things about one another.
Counseling can act as a reminder to both partners not to get complacent, which can be hard if you’ve been comfortable and happy for a while. Regular maintenance on your relationship can keep you both aware of each other’s desires, willing to communicate with one another, and ready to work together on any problem you may face.
When you’re intentional about working together, problem-solving, and actively listening to your partner, there’s a good chance that you’ll begin to blossom into your best self as a result of that work. Practicing kindness and understanding because you care about someone and want to work together is basically the best exercise imaginable in becoming a more positive and patient person.
When you learn how to navigate conflict and communication in a healthy way through your romantic partner, those skills will inevitably carry into other relationships in your life. Through couples counseling, you and your partner may find yourselves each learning, growing and communicating better in all areas of life.
Couples counseling is about so much more than saving a relationship from failure. You don’t have to wait until it feels too late. Counseling can push you and your partner to be a better team — to show up for one another and grow in your relationship. Don’t be afraid to go on this journey together. It could change your lives in ways you never thought were possible.