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  • 6 Signs You Need to See a Couples Therapist

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    6 Signs You Need to See a Couples Therapist

    We all know relationships are challenging at times.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to know when our problems have reached the point to where we need professional help.

    It may be time if you and your partner are constantly fighting or avoiding. Or, you two have deep resentment or mistrust towards each other based on the past. Perhaps, you two don’t make time to connect and don’t know how to repair after conflict.

    If you answered yes to any of the above, it might be time for couples therapy.

    Let’s take constantly fighting first.

    1. Constantly fighting.

    This can suck. No one really likes to fight.

    A small thing may trigger a spoiled night. I see this often.

    Couples often say something like, “We were having such a good night, then we started arguing over who cleaned the counters last and our night was ruined.”

    Or, couples may find themselves in big fights or core issues that never seem to go away (common examples: money, sex, mess, in-laws).

    Couples therapy is effective here because it’s important for couples to understand more about what triggers each partner. Usually there’s a deeper cycle under the fighting that couples therapists make explicit to give couples a roadmap out of.

    2. Constantly avoiding.

    This can be worse than constantly fighting. At least when you’re fighting, you’re communicating.

    A reason this is a big problem is because when we don’t know what’s going on with our partner, we make things up. And when we make things up, it’s always negative.

    For example, if I don’t know where my wife is at mentally, as she hasn’t told me and is avoiding me, I don’t think, “She must be reflecting on how much she loves me…”

    No, I think the worse.

    And if couples have gotten used to avoiding, or that’s the new norm, there’s no outlet to disprove such thoughts. This is a very difficult and painful spot for couples to be in.

    If you two find yourselves here, couples therapy is recommended ASAP.

    3. There’s deep resentment and it’s shared in a contemptuous way.

    If we have resentment towards our partner, we don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. Then eventually, we start to view everything they do as a way of being vindictive.

    If we share our resentment in a contemptuous way, our partner begins reacting to that energy by defending themselves or by giving it back to us. Such sharing does not make our partner more receptive. Then, what’s behind our resentment never gets properly acknowledged, validated, and worked through.

    4. There’s mistrust.

    There may be good reasons why mistrust exists in your relationship. But, if it’s not properly dealt with, it can create more problems.

    Mistrust creates uneasiness and anxiety in our minds. And to deal with that anxiety we may become detectives or constantly question our partner. If there’s not agreements in place for how to work through mistrust, it’s a difficult place for couples to be in.

    5. You don’t make time to connect.

    Connection prevents a lot of problems.

    In fact, if you two were to just focus on connecting and spending more quality time together, you could probably avoid the need to see a couples therapist.

    If we’re feeling connected to our partner their natural annoyances are not as loud.

    For example, if I’m feeling connected with Jess (my wife), I don’t care as much that she’s left her coat and socks on the floor. I don’t nag or remind her… (Not that I do anyway because it’s not helpful. If I really need to bring up mess I will in a respectful way and not if I’m tired).

    If we’re feeling connected, I give her the benefit of the doubt. I know she’s super busy and doing her best. In fact, I’ll do something crazy… I just pick them up… Problem solved!

    6. You don’t know how to repair after conflict.

    Conflict happens in every relationship.

    When we know how to repair, we can feel confident when conflict arises.

    Repairing means moving back into connection. One way to do so is by sharing what was underneath your anger or frustration.

    For example, “I felt ____ (sad, hurt, scared) when ____ (incident) happened.”

    This is vulnerability, and you’re leading with giving something for your partner to really hear and connect with in the spirit of making things better.

    Conclusion

    If you find yourself identifying with any of these six signs, it would be wise for you two to seek couples therapy. Going to couples therapy does not mean you’re broken or flawed. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and hope as you know the relationship can be better and you’re willing to work on it.

    I strongly feel couples therapy should be required for everyone. It’s a great place to learn how to communicate, get on the same page, and work through difficulties. Nothing is more challenging that being in an intimate relationship, and we often need help.

    *Personal disclosure: Jess and I have gone to a lot of couples therapy ourselves!

     

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