Someone recently asked me a very reasonable question.
“When do I know my spouse I should go to couples’ counseling?”
This person was asking this question because she and her spouse had been having minor skirmishes lately, and they were becoming more frequent. They still had many positive moments together and she still felt intimate and connected with her partner. And yet, she was wisely sensing that these “minor” arguments were beginning to indicate something deeper.
My response? It’s never too early to go to couples’ counseling.
It’s all too common for a couple’s counselor to meet with a couple who have waited far too long for counseling. A lot of damage has been done. In fact, a lot of couples unfortunately come into therapy together when things have reached crisis level in their relationship.
Couples need to come into therapy way before it reaches crisis level. The same should be said for individual therapy, as well. In fact, the best time for a couple to come into counseling is a little before they feel ready for it.
If the couple comes in when they begin to sense a problematic issue in their relationship, the therapy can be dedicated to nipping certain issues in the bud before they grow into larger problems, rather than repairing major damage that’s already been done. In the early stages, the trust is still there. Couples counseling at the early stage can help the couple get a clearer sense of how they function as a couple, and their weak areas and patterns. It can help them connect on a deeper level and learn some practical communication skills. Furthermore, it can serve as a reminder of why the couple is together in the first place, and what the couple’s strengths are that they can continue to build upon. There are some couples who just make it a practice to go into therapy once a month as a way to vent some pent up frustration with a professional third party, and re-focus on what’s important to them. They spend time monthly to “tune up” the relationship, which is a wonderful habit.
There are a lot of excuses that can come up. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. If both partners are working full time, it can be difficult to coordinate schedules. If children are involved, childcare must be considered. Plus, it’s uncomfortable. The prospect of therapy for a couple can be scary. It’s risky to be vulnerable.
Please know, your relationship is worth the investment.