“I’m very open about the fact that we go to couples counseling. I think everyone should be going, even if you think everything’s great… There are things about each of us that annoy the other, but instead of letting them fester, we get them out there and deal with them.”
We glorify romantic love in the United States, but it’s not often we’re presented with realistic representations of relationships. The media—movies, television, popular news—would have us think staying in love is all rainbows, all the time. The reality is, romantic love is great—but maintaining a healthy relationship requires more attention and effort than people are led to believe. Sometimes couples, even happy couples, fight or disagree. Those disagreements may be about minor things, like where to go to dinner, or large things, like finances. That disagreement is normal, and even healthy—as long as the couple is able to work through it using healthy communication and compromise.
Disagreement becomes problematic when either partner is habitually unkind to the other, no longer shares the same vision for the relationship, or when disagreement devolves into constant fighting or a total lack of communication—and that’s where couples counseling comes in.
What is Couples Counseling?
Couples counseling is exactly what it sounds like—a couple agrees they need therapy to address whatever struggles they are facing and then finds a therapist they feel comfortable meeting with. The couple most often attends the sessions as a unit, but it’s also common to occasionally meet one-on-one with the therapist as it’s deemed necessary.
The goal of couples counseling will differ depending on the couple’s goals, but in general, couples counseling can help the couple learn new communication skills specific to their partner’s communication style, learn coping skills for tough situations, and determine their shared vision for the future of the relationship.
Who Needs Couples Counseling?
Everyone! Couples counseling is like car maintenance—it’s better to address minor issues as they arise than to wait for the metaphorical engine to blow up. It’s not just for couples who are in distress—though that’s certainly when many couples begin to seek counseling.
To maintain a healthy relationship, it must be given time and attention. Many couples, particularly after marriage, children, or other major life events, stop doing the things that foster healthy romantic relationships. Setting aside regular time alone to communicate, do the things that brought the couple together in the first place, and stay aware of each other’s needs and desires, are just a few of the things couples can do to stay intimate. Having a counseling appointment as a check-up once or twice a year can also be part of your relationship maintenance. At Thriveworks-Maumelle (North Little Rock), we welcome the opportunity to work with you to fine-tune your relationship.
While it’s ideal to maintain a healthy relationship instead of getting to a point where major conflict must be addressed, that’s not always possible. Life changes, as mentioned above, can often cause unexpected strife between two people. Disagreement about whether to move for one spouse’s job, how to allocate financial resources, and a growing lack of intimacy—physical or emotional—are examples of serious situations that a counselor can assist with. Because they’re so complex, even couples with otherwise strong communication skills might need assistance in navigating these difficult situations. In fact, that’s the situation most couples are in when they find their way into our office—in need of significant help to strengthen or repair a relationship.
Though we would certainly prefer couples make it into the office for regular maintenance—in an effort to prevent the need for a major overhaul—our counselors have seen it all. We’re ready to meet you where you and help get your relationship back on track.
How Can Counseling Help?
During your sessions, your therapist will help you learn the skills to create and maintain a healthy relationship. Communication is a key part of those skills, and something many couples struggle with. Whether you’re seeing us for a relationship check-up or during troubled times, we can help you learn to communicate with your partner in a way they will really receive.
During couples counseling, the couple will visit with the therapist. While each couple will be encouraged to express themselves, the therapist will not take “sides”. The therapist’s goal is to get each partner communicating in a healthy, constructive manner, and part of that will require each partner to re-evaluate their world views, their views on their role in the relationship, and how they see themselves coming together with their partner given those views.
Conflict in a relationship is hard. Romantic relationships are often the star by which we guide the rest our lives, so when they are in trouble, our lives seem out of our control. If a relationship is struggling, ignoring the issues won’t help (Bienvenu). In fact, the longer the real issues are ignored, the bigger they will become. The only way things will get better is by addressing the problems present, starting with communication. If both partners are invested in the relationship and its future, there is every reason to utilize all available resources to ensure relationship success, and counseling is one of the most effective resources available.
Give Us a Call to Begin Couples Counseling in Maumelle
If you are struggling in your relationship, or if you just want to have a check-up, contact us. Our motivated counselors know how painful living in an unsuccessful relationship can be, and they want to help you. Call or message us today to get on the road to a healthier you.
Thriveworks Counseling Maumelle AR can be reached at (501) 628-9066.
Bienvenu, Melissa. “Can Couples Counseling Help?” WebMD.com.