When couples therapy can help – 11 instances….

  1. When you aren’t talking. Many relationship challenges are simply challenges in communication- and 50% of communication is LISTENING! I often say that listening does not mean agreeing! And listening makes a huge difference in helping partners simply be heard.
  1. When you’re talking, but it’s always negative. Negative communication can include anything that leaves one partner feeling judged, shamed, disregarded, insecure or wanting to withdraw from the conversation. Negative communication also includes the tone of conversation because it’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Negative communication can escalate into emotional abuse as well as non-verbal communication.
  1. When you’re afraid to talk. Sometimes it’s frightening to even bring issues up. This can be anything from sex to money, or even annoying little habits that are being blown out of proportion. My job is to help a couple become clear about their issues and  understand what they are truly talking about. Larger issues are often disguised in petty complaints.
  1. When affection is withheld as punishment. If anger over small things is fueling resentment it is difficult to be affectionate. Using the safe space in a therapist’s office can help couples air out the small irritations and get things back on track.
  1. When you see your partner as an antagonist. You and your partner are not adversaries; you are on the same team. If it begins to feel as if you are on different sides, then it’s time to seek help.
  1. When you keep secrets. Each person in a relationship has a right to privacy, but when you keep secrets from each other, something isn’t right and emotional intimacy suffers.
  1. When you contemplate an affair. Fantasizing about an affair is a signal that you desire something different from what you currently have. While it is possible for a relationship to survive after one partner has had an affair, it’s important to get some help before that happens.
  1. When you are financially unfaithful. Financial infidelity can be just as -– if not more -– damaging to a relationship than a sexual affair. If one partner keeps his or her spouse in the dark about spending or needs to control everything related to money, then the other should bring up the topic of family finances. It’s not unreasonable to say, “I want to better understand our monthly bills and budget, our debt, how many savings/checking/retirement accounts we have, etc.”
  1. When you feel everything would be OK if he would just change. The only person you can change is yourself. The ultimate goal of therapy is to help each person take responsibility for what each is doing to perpetuate unhealthy patterns in the relationship.
  2. When your sex life has shifted significantly. It’s not unusual for sex to taper off a little after you’ve been together for a while. However, significant changes in the bedroom signal something is not right.
  3. When there are ongoing relationship issues. Every relationship has sticking points or those big-ticket arguments that carry over for months without any kind of resolution in sight. This includes differing views on family finances, incompatible sex drives and child rearing philosophies. A goal in therapy is to help partners to understand the other’s point of view and develop empathy.

Most couples wait too long before seeking help. In truth, you are best served if you seek help sooner rather than later.

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