Accepting New Clients (updated Jun 22)

How to Know When It’s Time for Couples Counseling

Laura Richer, Seattle Therapist

Jan 10, 2020

Deciding to go to couples therapy might feel like a monumental step in your relationship.

For many people, it’s an indicator that something isn’t quite right, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. If you have never experienced therapy at all, it can be even more overwhelming. Those with individual therapy experience may find it easier to consider.

Just the thought of talking out your problems with a stranger can be stressful, especially if you don’t know where to start. Perhaps one of you has been talking about it while the other keeps putting it off. Specific problems are whether premarital counseling might be a better option or whether it’s worthwhile at all.

If any of this sounds like what you’re going through, you are not alone. To help you decide whether couples therapy is right for you, here are a few common issues that indicate whether counseling will be of benefit.


Seattle Premarital Counseling

You’re not feeling much love.

If you’re not feeling the same loving feelings or passion toward your partner that you once did, there are many possible reasons. The dynamic of the partnership may have changed. Perhaps you feel resentful, and your interactions are uncomfortable, but you can’t quite figure out why. This does not mean that you or your partner are solely to blame. One beneficial thing couples therapy can do is that it helps you identify the problems you are having. Once you have a better idea of why you are feeling the way you do, we can start working on getting back to where you want to be.

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You’re not communicating well.

Do you often feel misunderstood, ignored, or overlooked? Are you starting to feel estranged from your partner, even though you live under the same roof? Do your discussions quickly turn into arguments or endless bickering? Healthy, quality communication is vital in any relationship. Your therapist can help you develop tools that will improve both of your ability to hear, connect with, and understand each other, even when the topics are difficult.

One partner had a physical or emotional affair.

Infidelity, whether physical or emotional, can be devastating to a relationship. Trust has been broken, and you may feel like you will never be able to get it back. Though it might not be easy, couples therapy can help you rebuild trust after a partner was intimate or developed feelings for someone else by giving you both a safe forum to express yourselves and be vulnerable.

You bicker endlessly about the same topic without resolution.

Conflict of any kind is exhausting, but even more so when it’s a constant state of being. Whether your arguments are minor disagreements or major blowouts, they always leave some residual drama and bad feelings. Having the occasional argument is inevitable. One of you might be going through a tough time, and when it’s over, the stress will subside. However, when the arguments happen daily, it indicates a pattern of behavior, or perhaps an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

One partner is thinking about breaking up.

When one partner has made up their mind that the relationship is ending, it is a difficult situation to change. Emotions run high; extreme tactics come into play. However, not all relationships work out. We might not want to admit that our coupledom is winding down, but the fact is, we all deserve love, and we don’t have to live in constant misery just because we can’t bear the thought of moving on. Couples therapy can help you determine whether or not there is something there worth saving.

You are experiencing a significant life transition or will be in the near future.

Significant life changes such as the loss of a job or changing jobs, a health crisis, a new child, loss of a child, parents, siblings, or loved ones – these are examples of setbacks that could have a significant effect on your personal relationship. Because these events are outside of your relationship, per se, you might not think of couples counseling as a way to deal with them. However, coming together in the face of crisis can make your bond stronger, helping you face whatever may come.

You get more emotional support outside of your relationship than you do in it.

Our partners can’t meet 100 percent of our needs, and that’s just the truth. They are only one person, not a superhuman. However, if you are not getting the emotional support you need or if you feel disrespected, unheard, or misunderstood, then couples therapy can help.

You are committed to your relationship.

Taking on couples therapy shows that you are committed to improving your relationship. Engaging in couples counseling doesn’t always mean that there are big problems afoot or that you are headed for a breakup. It’s also not just for married couples. Any couple at any stage of their relationship can benefit from couples therapy. Committing to counseling is not an indication that your relationship is failing. It is a way to gain a deeper understanding of who your partner is and what your expectations are. Couples therapy will help you learn to communicate more effectively and build a strong, healthy, and growth-oriented relationship that that can weather the tides of change.

Your partner wants to go to counseling.

If your partner has been asking you to go to couples counseling, this is a sign you should not ignore. Once the scars deepen, they might be impossible to heal. When the discussion consistently turns in this direction, chances are one of you is trying to decide whether there is a future for the two of you. There could be fear attached to the suggestion, especially if things have been difficult for you lately. Just know that couples therapy creates a safe place for both partners to express their fears, thoughts, and opinions.

If you have been thinking or wondering about couples therapy and whether it can help you and your partner, don’t wait until too many things have been said, done, and felt to make the call. Reach out to me today to set up a consultation. I can answer all your questions and help you both decide whether couples counseling is right for you.

For more about how we approach helping couples, see our Gottman Therapy page.

Other types of relationship therapies:


Laura Richer
Seattle Couples Therapist
Anchor Light Therapy Collective
(206) 765-8265

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