So you and your partner have hit a few speed bumps and you’re wondering if you would benefit from counselling. You’ve landed on this website, hovered over the BOOK NOW button and you started wondering “Ah, do we really need this? Am I just being dramatic?” Maybe you’re thinking, “Maybe our problems aren’t so bad. This is just the way real marriage is supposed to be.” These concerns are completely valid, and while we believe that couples counselling could benefit all couples, it’s helpful to know when professional help might be needed. In this article, we’ll explore five signs that might indicate that it’s time to seek a couples counsellor.
You’re Struggling to Feel Emotionally Connected to Your Partner
The quality of your relationship is dictated by the quality of your relationship’s emotional connection. As humans, one of the first things we learn out of the womb is that we can take great comfort and joy by being close to people who love us. In that process, our brains get wired for emotional connection – so it’s completely natural to desire that connected feeling in our romantic relationships.
So as we consider whether or not to seek counselling, it is helpful to ask: What is the quality of our emotional connection? Does being together bring us joy? When we’re having a bad day, can we take comfort in each other? If you’re finding that your relationship is fraught with anxiety and resentment, or if it is so riddled with baggage that it’s hard to feel happy around your partner – then it might be a good sign to seek counselling.
I should note that many disconnected couples actually won’t seek counselling. Many people know they feel emotionally unfulfilled, but opt to settle into a stable form of disconnection by lowering their expectations (“Maybe this is what real marriage is like, and we just have to grow up and deal with it!”). And while this resigned acceptance of disconnection can lead to stability for your relationship, it is also demonstrably harmful to your long-term psychological and physical health.
You’re Caught in the Spin Cycle
If you’re having the same argument over and over again without being able to come to a satisfying resolution, it might be a sign to seek counselling. A repeating conflict generally means there are certain ‘stuck points’ in your communication patterns. It’s important to address these stuck points because they’ll eventually lead to a sense of burnout and resignation.
Constantly hitting these stuck points is painful, because what’s really happening is you’re left feeling perpetually unheard, misunderstood, and disconnected from your partner. Inviting a couples counsellor into the cycle will help you both take a step back, explore the cycle in a safe environment, and then break out of it together.
You Can’t Make Repairs After a Fight
Another red flag to look out for is an inability to make up effectively after a conflict. All relationships will involve conflict – but one defining characteristic of a healthy couple is their ability to make repairs. It is an essential skill for emotionally connected couples, but it is admittedly tricky and often fraught with emotional stuck points.
So next time you fight, pay special attention to what happens after the conflict. Are you sweeping the hurt under the rug and accumulating resentment? Is there a voice that says, “Never again!”, leading you to shut down that vulnerable part of yourself from your partner? Are you turning to behaviours and coping mechanisms that you hide from your partner? All of these can lead to nasty emotional infections – so if it’s happening in your relationship, it may be time to seek help.
Old Wounds That Never Healed:
Sometimes we harbour old wounds, and they continue to haunt us no matter how hard we try to get over them. There is no expiry date on these types of wounds, and time alone may not be a sufficient healer. Some couples will enter counselling with wounds that were inflicted decades ago. Without vulnerability, forgiveness, and a deep sense of mutual understanding, these old wounds simply fester and degrade the emotional infrastructure of a relationship over time.
In the therapy world, we call these wounds attachment injuries, and they can indeed require a little more attention in order to heal. It’s one thing to mend a wound that was inflicted 20 minutes ago, it’s another thing altogether to heal a wound that was inflicted and then buried 20 years ago. If there’s an old wound in your relationship that never had a chance to heal, it may be time to reach out. Counselling can provide a safe place to remove all those layers of old, rotting bandages, to begin the process of mending those wounds together.
Things are Getting Unbearable
This is the most common and obvious reason for couples to seek therapy. Things have gotten so bad that you just can’t take it anymore. Something has to change or something’s going to break. If you’re in this place, couples counselling can absolutely help you and your partner to de-escalate the situation and create enough safety for the both of you to be more honest and vulnerable.
While there is no guarantee that counselling can save your relationship, the evidence (and our own experience) does suggest that the vast majority of couples who go through Emotionally Focused Therapy (our main approach for couples counselling) will experience a restored emotional connection! This is true even with couples who feel like they are on the verge of breaking. So if you and your partner are here as a last resort, please reach out!
Relationships can be wonderful! But they can also be pretty tricky – and sometimes we can lose our way and find ourselves unwittingly stuck in dark places. If that’s you, we warmly and sincerely invite you to reach out! Hope to talk soon.