Whilst not all partners want to seek help and talk about their relationship, it really is a life-changing experience.
Some couples come for help with a single issue that they have tried to resolve at home, however for most couples, it takes 6 years to even contact a therapist.
Imagine 6 years of hurt, conflict and resentment all building up at home with the person you love. Imagine all the years of upsetting fights without a resolution. Imagine the words said in anger that cannot be taken back or the cold war of silence as partners ignore each other until they recover. Over the years, partners lose trust and respect for each other. Life at home becomes upsetting; replaying the same hurtful pattern of arguments.
To get out of these cycles, partners need to see a couples therapist who can help them develop an understanding of their situation from both partners’ perspectives and improve their communication skills. Couples therapy helps couples build a strong foundation. Here are 10 reasons why:
At different times or stages in life, our lives can become really hard. Sometimes our world gets turned upside down, this could be dealing with a loss or illness, navigating how to raise children, a partner having an affair, or not being able to connect with our partner. We are chartering unfamiliar waters and need some guidance and support. A couples therapist helps partners work through complex life situations in a supportive environment taking many perspectives into account.
We do not naturally know how to communicate well with our partner throughout our life. It’s not our fault we don’t have these skills, yet it is important to develop them if we want a safe and caring relationship. A therapist allows couples to actively converse in a comfortable environment where partners can express themselves and really listen to their partner. Working with a couples therapist promotes communication between you and your partner.
When couples have had many unsuccessful attempts at communicating at home, they can lose trust in each other’s ability to resolve things. Very often a partner can feel that they are right and that their partner has no idea about life at all. Couples therapy becomes a safe space to share their thoughts and feelings. The therapist helps both partners learn to listen to each other and develop respect for their different perspectives. Over time trust is built which helps partners feel more connected to each other once again.
Therapists understand that life is complex and can at times be difficult for anyone to navigate alone. Therapy is not about judgment or labelling someone as “bad”. I see myself as being alongside my clients – never above them. A therapist’s role is to understand why their clients behave or think in a particular way and how this is impacting them or their life situation. A non-judgmental approach is essential for a successful therapy experience.
We all carry different ideas of what a committed relationship should look like and how partners should treat each other. For many of us we react to situations automatically. Couples therapy helps us understand why both partners have different ideas about relationships in the first place and how this causes conflict. Developing greater understanding of how you and your partner think, feel and behave is vital for couple health and wellbeing.
Allows both parties to be heard
During times of conflict, it is exceedingly difficult for partners to listen to each other. With a therapist both partners are given the opportunity to speak about and reflect on their own thoughts around conflict or a particular situation. This does not mean equal time is provided, it is equal opportunity to express themselves and be heard.
Freedom and ability to share any conflicts
Many partners are not able to speak about less than positive aspects of the relationship. Instead, they bottle it up and avoid communicating their feelings with their partner. Often, they fear upsetting them or causing conflict. In therapy, a third-party is navigating the partners through their difficulty, as well as managing any responses or reactions that arise. The therapist is continuously trying to understand and process the partners differing perspectives so that they are as free as possible to speak about what is going on for them.
Gives both partners a safe space
Being a couples therapist is a privileged position. I am very aware how I am invited into the very private lives of the couples I work with. Safety in therapy is extremely important and I achieve this in many ways: through confidentiality, respecting both partners, having a non-judgmental approach, being knowledgeable, and by genuinely caring about their wellbeing. When couples know that they have a safe space to share their emotions they are more inclined to be open and work wholeheartedly in the therapy.
Promotes positive changes
Through the therapy process, couples learn to communicate well and decrease their conflict. This is an incredibly positive experience for couples as they are no longer repeating the same upsetting cycles of conflict, they feel more connected to each other. Good experiences fill the space, like a cuddle on the sofa, greater interest in hanging out together, and partners often become happier and more playful.
Therapy is not just designed for working through the hard times, it is also a way of looking at the positive aspects of a relationship and helping couples to build on their strengths. By the time some couples come to therapy (remember it is usually after 6 years of conflict), they may not remember their strengths. In couples therapy, the therapist needs to acknowledge the couple’s strengths and any developments so that the couple can incorporate these changes into their image of the relationship.