As a couples counsellor, in everyday conversations, people often ask me if I think they need counselling to resolve something that is going on in their relationship. There seems to be a belief that counselling is something that couples do when they’ve reached an impasse, or when things have gone wrong for so long that one person says they want out. Unfortunately, when things have gone that far, it is difficult to repair the relationship. So, don’t wait until it gets to that point.
Counselling is not just for those couples who are having trouble making their relationship work. It is not exclusively for people who don’t know what else to do. Most couples can benefit from counselling regardless what problems they are having. Here are a few of the most common signs that your relationship could benefit from couples counselling:
- You have the same fight over and over again. It is normal and healthy for couples to disagree. However, it becomes problematic if one or both people are not fighting fair, or continue to fight over the same issue. It can be very damaging to the relationship. Sometimes people need to be taught how to fight in a respectful way. Sometimes couples need someone to mediate on a certain issue to help it get resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Learning these problem solving and conflict resolution skills is part of counselling.
- The things you use to love about your partner are getting annoying. Many times this is a good indicator that there is a bigger problem. If you find yourself getting irritated or annoyed frequently over small things, it’s time to pay attention and find out why. Minor irritations can turn into major resentments over time if not addressed.
- You feel that your connection has faded over time. Many people actually believe that it’s normal to drift apart or feel less connected to their partner after a long time. This is not the case in healthy, happy relationships. Your connection and relationship will inevitably change throughout your lives, but it shouldn’t fade or disappear. If you feel you are losing your connection, you need to take steps to regain it.
- You don’t look forward to talking to or seeing each other at the end of the day. Your partner should be a place of comfort, a source of support, and a person you enjoy being around. If you feel like you avoid talking to them, or are not looking forward to reuniting after being apart for a few hours or days; that means something. Make sure to address this. If you can’t find the reason behind these feelings or know how to resolve it, you should consult an expert.
- Your sex life has gone downhill. A couple’s sex life is a barometer for how the relationship and the individuals in the relationship are doing. If there are drastic changes in a couple’s sex life there is a reason. If the frequency or quality of sex slowly declines over time, there is a reason. Don’t avoid finding out what that reason is just because it may involve some uncomfortable conversations or difficult truths.
If any or all of these signs are present in your relationship, don’t panic. It is better to know and start working towards repairing what’s broken than to continue to let things slowly degenerate. Start talking to your partner about what signs you have noticed. Make the decision to address the problem areas and find someone to help you get back on track. You and your relationship deserve to be nurtured and supported.
Sarah Clark is a licensed therapist, relationship expert, and entrepreneur. She owns a private practice in Indianapolis where she works with couples to develop happy, healthy relationships. She is also the co-founder of the app Idealationship that helps couples learn how to have the relationships they want and keep them on track.