Anxiety, Boundaries, Family, Relationships

5 Reasons Every Couple Should Attend Couple’s Therapy

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Therapy.

When you say that word in a conversation, one of two things typically happens:

Therapy?! For what? Your life is so great. You’re so put together. What reason could you possibly have to go to therapy?

Or:

Oh, I don’t believe in therapy. Why am I going to go talk to some doctor about my life when the doctor likely has no idea how to help themselves.

Combine “therapy” with “couple’s therapy” and you basically convinced the person with whom you’re talking with that your relationship is in trouble. Doomed. Over. Like, why are you even planning a wedding if you two are already going to couple’s therapy?

Seriously. Drop “couple’s therapy” in a conversation and see what happens.

Tyler and I aren’t quiet about attending therapy. Nearly everyone close to us knows that we attend therapy every week – mostly. We’ve heard the gamut of responses:

“What’s wrong with your relationship that you need therapy?”

“You aren’t even married yet and you need therapy?”

“But you two seem so happy!”

“That sounds awful.”

I’ll be honest – when Tyler and I first considered going to couple’s therapy, even we weren’t sure we wanted to go down that road. Our reasoning was mainly because our relationship was fine. There were no issues (that we were willfully admitting, anyway) and we were hesitant to start digging stuff up just because we needed something to talk about with the therapist.

But a funny thing happened once we started seeing a couple’s counselor: we grew closer. It was an unexpected benefit, and one of the main reasons we continue to see our therapist on a regular basis.

Some weeks are sticky. The sessions are tense. One or both of us is emotionally drained, hurt, or carrying around something far bigger than what we are capable of carrying. It can feel like you’re in the hot seat and you’re dying to escape. But somewhere in that hour, whether we are boiling with anger or heavy with sadness, our session brings us back together. Somewhere within that hour, we are reminded of the strong foundation we have and the reasons why we continue to fight for one another. And sometimes, we all need that reminder.

Relationships aren’t easy. Aside from love and passion, they require full-time commitment, patience, dedication, and constant communication. The moment one person stops either one of these things, the relationship starts to suffer – quietly at first – so quiet that you probably don’t notice. And then before you know it, you’re angrily washing dishes, slamming silverware into the piled up pots and pans, mumbling “fuck you’s” under your breath, resenting the hell out of your partner. And for me, without the skills we have learned in therapy, those moments would fester and grow into deep-seated resentment, disgust, contempt, and ultimately, the demise of the relationship.

And so, after a particularly positive therapy session where we received the invisible but much sought after “Gold Star” of coupledom, Tyler and I were talking about why therapy was good for us, and why we are so dedicated to our time together with our therapist.

And so we present:

The Top 5 Reasons Every Couple Should Attend Couple’s Therapy

With the help of a therapist, you can identify "the cycle"

Every couple – whether you are Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson or Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston – every couple has a cycle. An issue comes up, it triggers one partner and sends them reeling into their past, and the other partner, unaware that their partner is no longer living in the present, reacts  – usually poorly because they themselves, are now triggered by their partner’s sudden change in behavior. Neither partner is able to effectively communicate that they are no longer acting based on fact and truth from the present, and thus an argument ensues. Feelings are hurt, things are said, doors are slammed 🙋🏽 and the relationship suffers.

With the help of a therapist, Tyler and I were able to take our communication about our own hidden cycle to the next level. After every argument we have ever had, Tyler and I have always been able to have a rational discussion about what happened and what we were feeling and how we could do better next time. And next time, the argument wouldn’t be as heavy – but we weren’t able to understand why it kept happening. Why were we ALWAYS fighting about the same thing? We figured out that if we didn’t understand why, we couldn’t change the behavior.

Our therapist helped us identify the cycle by asking us to identify (1) our own reactions and behaviors, as well as our thoughts about ourselves AND our partner, and (2) perhaps most importantly, the underlying emotions that were driving those reactions, behaviors, and thoughts, and what we really yearn for in our relationship. And amazingly, this simple acknowledgement of our underlying emotions and what we really hoped for in our relationship was an eye-opener.

We both wanted exactly the same thing, but we were both being triggered and fooled into thinking the other person was out to get us.

Which brings me to Reason #2:

Couple's Therapy helps you remember that you are both on the same team, fighting for the success of your relationship.

Loving one another is important. You wouldn’t have your relationship if you weren’t in love with your partner. But loving one another isn’t enough. It takes teamwork. And teams work together on a common goal. In a relationship, that common goal should be the success and happiness of your relationship with one another.

Our therapist helped Tyler and I develop our sense of gratitude for one another. In the past, Tyler and I have dabbled with our independent gratitude journals and lists. We both understand the importance of gratitude, and we’ve always been quite vocal in our gratitude for one another. But occasionally, particularly the more stressful times in our relationship, we lose sight of our appreciation for one another. And it is during these times our therapist asks us to turn toward one another and share three things that we appreciate about our partner. It seems so silly, but there is something to be said for holding hands with your partner while maintaining eye contact and stating three things that you’re grateful for. It reminds you of your connection to one another, the reasons why you fell in love, and how strong your bond truly is. All of the shit falls away, and suddenly, you feel like you’ve returned home to your partner.

Tyler and I maintain this practice daily. Not a day goes by that one of us doesn’t thank the other for some mundane task –

“Thank you for taking out the trash today.”

“I noticed you folded and put the laundry away. Thank you for doing that.”

“Thanks for my sweet text in the middle of the day. It really made me smile.”

“Thank you for cooking dinner tonight.”

And my personal favorite – one that Tyler says almost nearly every day:

“Thank you for going to work for us and our family today.”

It seems silly. But it is a daily reminder that there are no expectations of duties or assignments in our home. We appreciate every little thing that one another does – either for us specifically, or for the family – whether it falls under our “assigned” role or not. Appreciation and gratitude remind you that you’re working together, and helps you to feel seen and heard.

Couple's therapy helps build communication skills.

Tyler and I have always had decent communication within our relationship. When we first started dating, friends couldn’t understand how we could talk for hours and never run out of things to say to one another or get bored just talking. Because we literally talked for hours. We would stay up most nights until four or five in the morning just talking. Yes. Actually just talking. No code words here for extra-curricular activities. We talked and talked and talked. And then when we parted ways, we’d find excuses to call each other 20 minutes later – and we’d keep talking. Our text messages were novels (still are) and our phone calls would last hours. Nothing was off-limits. We were – and continue to be – honest and open about every emotion. We shared everything – and still do to this day.

And yet, we continue to improve our communication. Through therapy, we have been able to recognize when our own emotions are standing in the way of truly hearing and interpreting our partner’s message. We recognize our own behaviors and patterns and are able to step outside of ourselves to reach through to the other person. Would we have eventually gotten there without therapy? Perhaps. But therapy helps to remind us that communication is the most important aspect of our relationship.

When one of us is feeling butt hurt about something, it is usually because we haven’t communicated our needs and we are expecting our partner to instinctively know what we need or want. Regardless of how long you’ve been together, your partner is NOT a mind reader. Therapy has helped us to identify that although we may be talking to one another, we aren’t always effectively communicating our needs or concerns.

Couple's therapy lays the foundation and provides the strategies you need to wade through the shit, before you are in the shit.

There will be shit. Guaranteed. But it doesn’t have to totally suck. Attending couple’s therapy has given Tyler and I the tools we need to get through those times with relative ease, few hurt feelings, and far fewer door slams than there were before. Regardless of the topic that brings the heat, knowing your partner’s triggers, how they handle those emotions when triggered, and how to work together to achieve a common goal will ALWAYS make arguments easier.

Couple’s therapy taught us the power of taking a break from an argument – and how to effectively take a break from an argument. Walking out of the house, slamming the door behind you, is NOT the way to take a break from an argument. And while we employed a code word prior to starting couple’s therapy, we weren’t using it effectively. Screaming the code word as you walk out of the house, still slamming the door on your way out is also NOT the way to take a break from an argument.

We learned how to respect each other’s need for a break from an argument. In fact, we’ve even learned to identify the signs that the OTHER person needs a break, and we are able to stop an argument BEFORE it gets to an argument, simply by calming saying our code word, followed by “I love you, and we will work through this together, but we need a break.”

Couple’s therapy has given us the language we need to see us through the tense moments, and has taught us that walking away from an argument is not abandonment. It does not mean that the other person doesn’t love you enough to fight it out with you. It does not mean that the other person has had enough and wants out.

Couple’s therapy, most importantly, has given us confidence in our connection to one another. It has taken the heat out of our arguments because regardless of the emotion, we know we have each other’s backs. We know we are fully committed to one another. We know we are in it together. And when you can remember that, arguments lose all of their meaning.

Finally, couple's therapy provides a safe space for raw emotion.

Your partner is going to piss you off. It’s going to happen. There is going to be SOMETHING that comes up at one point or another, and it is going to tear your heart apart. You’ll be hurt, annoyed, frustrated, confused, and/or sad. You perhaps won’t want to talk, need a few days to process your thoughts, and may even fester in the negative emotions – maybe even write fictitious stories about what your partner’s actions really mean.

Sometimes, that thing that comes up, that thing that is killing you inside, sometimes we need help saying what we need to say. We may have a friend who we can turn to for advice, but most of the time, we don’t need a girlfriend who is going to side with us and contribute to the fire burning inside of us. In the past, I have been guilty of turning to my friends when I was pissed off. During those times, I wasn’t looking for someone to play the Devil’s Advocate. I wasn’t looking for someone to call me out on my own shit. I wanted someone to side with me, to tell me I was right and he was wrong, and to agree with me that this was all about him and nothing about me.

But this ultimately does more damage than good. Turning to friends when the tension is high further perpetuates the hurt feelings and negative emotions.

The better option is to address those emotions directly with your partner. And when it’s difficult to find the words or you’re worried that what you have to say will lead to a difficult conversation, couple’s therapy is the place to be. With your therapist, you can address those emotions – perhaps more efficiently and clearly than you could independently, and the space created in the office is a safe place for your partner to hear your hurt and concerns.

Find a Therapist Near You

Trust me, I never thought that I would be saying this: couple’s therapy is for every couple. Every. Single. One. You’d be surprised at how much it will help your relationship grow.

Ready to take the next step and find a couple’s therapist? Check out your insurance coverage. You may be eligible for therapy sessions at your mental health co-pay rate.

And if your mental health benefits don’t apply to couple’s sessions, check out TalkSpace, a secure online therapy platform designed to offer therapy sessions from the comfort of your own home.

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This post contains affiliate links and we may earn compensation when you make a purchase using the links included in this post, at no additional cost to you.

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