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When to Consider a Couples Counselor

It’s not at all uncommon for couples to choose to work with a marriage counselor—and not all couples resort to this step when their relationships have hit rock bottom. Even in the strongest of relationships, seeing a therapist can offer benefits. Over the past 25 years, the practice of Emotionally Focused Therapy within couples counseling sessions has been shown to be effective for three out of every four couples.

Here are reasons you may want to consider couples counseling:

If You’re Engaged

There are premarital counselors who can work with couples who are planning to get married. Many couples enter their marriage with no preparation, and this can cause more problems than getting married can “fix.” Marriage is not a simple responsibility that everyone can adapt to. There may be financial disagreements, arguments about who shares or owns various household, budget, or parenting responsibilities—and it’s important to address these kinds of relationship and communication issues before they worsen. Premarital counseling has historically been undertaken by those in organized religions, however many people in secular communities are now also realizing its value.

You Want to Improve Your Communication

One of the biggest reasons marriages fail is because of a lack of communication between partners, or miscommunication in general. Misunderstandings, misarticulated feelings and issues, and perhaps even problems that are not communicated at all can cause arguments. All of this is quite common in marriages. Even if you feel like you know your partner, you may not know as much as you think. A counselor can help you and your relationship by examining how you communicate, teaching you techniques to improve your communication, and help you identify how you and your partner can verbally work on issues together.

Financial Issues May Need to be Addressed

Finances are not usually something anyone likes to talk about, but it can turn into a problem if it’s never discussed in your relationship. You and your partner should establish a budget together and learn how to manage your finances—but few couples actually make these plans. When you’re not on the same financial page together, you and your partner may argue over spending habits. One study published in 2009 found that couples that have financial disagreements once a week are nearly one-third more likely to get divorced than those that are in conflict about finances less often. By helping you and your partner work on your communication specifically around financial issues, a licensed counselor can help you with your finances by helping you both identify—and stick to—a solution.

Help Air Your Grievances

It’s natural to find out your partner has little quirks you may dislike, but that you ignore largely because you want to keep the peace. You may not address these issues because you don’t know how to express them in a way that won’t hurt your partner’s feelings. However, problems arise when you keep these feelings bottled up—until one day they explode and damage your relationship. A continuing cycle of these behaviors could perhaps end your relationship somewhere down the road.

A therapist can help you talk about relationship problems in a healthy, controlled manner. If either partner gets upset, the counselor can help them understand the other’s point of view. Couples experience conflict when they aren’t willing to listen to each other, but they may be more open-minded in the presence of a counselor.

To Improve an Already Healthy Marriage

You don’t need to wait until your relationship is hanging by a thread to consider working with a counselor. You can improve an already healthy marriage by going to regular therapy sessions. These sessions can be a way to maintain the good in your marriage by helping to refine things that are working well—such as your weekly date nights—or for examining your marriage in more detail to see if there are things you might be able to work on that you may not have noticed before.

Not everyone who goes to couples counseling feels like their marriage is failing. You don’t have to wait until divorce is a realistic option in order to seek counseling. Instead, you might consider speaking to a counselor.

Marriage is complex—but with a strong union, it can be one of the best parts of your life. Finding a marital therapist that fits your expectations and schedule could turn out to be an invaluable investment for you and your partner.

This post is sponsored by BetterHelp.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.