How much time should a couple spend trying to solve problems on their own before they should seek out a couples therapist? Although there is no concrete amount of time or written rule, there are signs within your relationship that can help you determine if you should consider visiting a couples therapist in the near future.
1. You or Your Partner Want to See a Therapist
Usually, if you or your partner have already suggested it, you should consider it. Reaching out to your partner and letting them know that you are willing to visit a therapist to resolve issues within your relationship shows how significant and important your relationship is to each other. It’s a good thing to acknowledge the need for help. Although in some cases it may take some time for partners to accept the need for a couples therapist, if you never bring it up, how can it ever become an option?
2. You’ve Mastered the Silent Treatment
The silent treatment is a form of punishment used by couples. This punishment can include the refusal of communication, or even withholding affection and sexual intimacy. Obviously, this can be very harmful in relationships. As partners ignore each other more and more, they begin to co-exist instead of sharing their lives. An example of this is when couples spend almost all of their time in different rooms but are under the same roof. Eventually, people can reach such a level of pain that animosity, retaliation, and plans for revenge can develop. This is when withholding affection is used as punishment. This refusal of affection can lead to voids in intimacy, and over time, couples start to lose their sexual connection. Affection and communication are both characteristics found in healthy and solid relationships. When you’ve found that you and your partner only speak or come in contact with each other when it is absolutely necessary, it may be time to seek help from a professional couples therapist.
3. Constant Fighting
In all relationships, whether romantic or platonic, there will be arguments and disagreements. This is completely normal. However, arguments that seem repetitive, pointless, or never have a resolution are unhealthy. Oftentimes, arguments aren’t resolved because of the way couples express themselves. Yelling, blaming, and name-calling are all destructive methods for trying to resolve problems and only lead to more arguments. At times, couples may even be aware of the problem, but can’t seem to find a way to fix it. Therapists can help couples learn to express themselves appropriately and help each other to understand their point of view.
4. Seeking Support Outside of the Relationship
Your partner is usually one of the first people you confide in. When you no longer feel there is support, or you are seeking others outside of your relationship for most of your emotional, physical, or even sexual comfort, you should consider seeing a couple’s therapist. Whether you have come close to cheating, or have already done so, trust is broken, and it can be incredibly difficult to restore. For relationships that rely heavily on each other’s commitment, affairs can pose threats to the relationship, and partners will suffer. If you or your partner are thinking about cheating or are engaging in emotional cheating, a certified couples therapist can help.
5. Sexual Intimacy is Absent
One of the main indicators that couples may need a “reboot” is a lack of intimacy in their relationship. We can all remember our “honeymoon” period when we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, but what about situations where you can’t seem to find the desire to touch each other? Couples that have been together for a long time can experience little to no intimacy, and it can take a toll their on relationship. In relationships, we connect with our partner through intimacy, which helps us to form a special bond. When couples participate in sex that may seem cold, or “boring”, a couples therapist can help to identify what it is you may need to bring a spark back into your relationship.
There are many signs in relationships that may lead to a deeper issue, or an issue that is sitting right in front of you. The important part is being able to step forward and reach out for the help that your relationship needs. As mentioned earlier, there is not a specific amount of time that indicates whether you need to see a couples therapist, but rather signs and stress in your relationship may indicate it’s time to see a couples therapist. Partners that avoid problems for long periods of time can have greater difficulty mending issues. That’s why reaching out for help sooner can help identify problems and get your relationship back on track.