People in relationships know that romantic relationships are hard work. At the start of relationship, you think the relationship is your fairy tale happily ever after but many marriages and relationships need constant maintenance to remain healthy. In a stressful world of today, which is identified by lack of patience, busy lifestyle and higher accessibility to outside world of friends, relationships needs more nurturing and attention than ever before. Very few relationships exist that are argument free but then there are certain times when the relationship hits a large stumbling block that requires counseling from an objective third party. In such times, a relationship counselor or a therapist can be the answer to your relationship issues which cannot be sorted out on their own.
Couples seek counseling for any number of reasons, from power struggles and communication problems to sexual dissatisfaction and infidelity. Though counseling is recommended as soon as discontent arises in a relationship, many couples try couples counseling when a significant amount of damage has already been done. With relationship issues left unaddressed, it could lead to tensions, quarrels and distance.
People who are in relationships or are married, may seek counseling for any number of reasons, from communication problems and ego tussles to sexual dissatisfaction and infidelity. In an ideal scenario, counseling is recommended as soon as the problems arise in a relationship and the big mistake partners make is to think about counseling only after they have been unhappy for a long period of time. We strongly recommend to couples to seek counseling moment you start feeling discomfort in your relationship. Here are some trigger points that are signs that your relationship needs some help -
When you stop talking - Very often challenges in communication lead to relationship challenges. At times, communication is there but is negative communication, which leaves one of the partners feeling judged, disregarded, insecure and ultimately wanting to withdraw from the conversation. It also includes the tone of conversation because it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it.
When you keep too many secrets - Every person in a relationship has a right to privacy, but when you start keeping secrets from each other about important subjects, then it's a sign to worry.
Living seperate lives - A couple doesn't have to be everything together but if they are not doing anything together, then they end up becoming more like roommates than a couple. Lack of conversation and intimacy in a relationship, often experienced by a few married couple, may indicate it’s time to bring in a skilled clinician to help you sort out what is missing.
When sex is no more there - It’s usual for sex to taper off a little bit after the partners have been together for a while. But if the sex is non-existent or rare you can’t remember the last time you had sex, then your relationship is in distress. Lack of interest for sex could be due to missing emotional connection.
Infidelity - While it is possible for a relationship to survive even after one partner has had an affair, it’s not easy. One partner’s affair can leave the other person feeling betrayed, alone, devastated, and confused, and any reconciliation needs time and help.
Couples Therapy or Relationship Counseling is beneficial for any kind of relationship, whether married couples, about to get married, partners are straight or gay etc. For example, a recently engaged couple, which is about to get married, might find premarital counseling a great opportunity to address relationship expectations prior to getting married. Another married couple together for 10 years, might discover couples therapy the best way for them to rekindle excitement and a sense of romance in their relationship.
Relationship Counseling can resolve a specific problem, prevent problems getting out of hand or simply provide a “check-up” for a couple that is experiencing increased stress. Some common concerns addressed in relationship counseling include issues related to parenting, sex, money, infidelity, in-laws, infertility, addiction, and frequent conflict.
The main goal of relationship counseling is to put you and your partner in a room with a counselor to help you understand what exactly is going wrong in your relationship. Each counselor has his/her own approach but they all share the common goal of get you talking through whatever issues you have. Relationship counseling generally takes repeated number of sessions over a few weeks or months. In a very small percentage of cases, the couples start feeling better after just a couple of visit.
The initial session is to generally relax the couple, remind them of the good elements of their relationship and build rapport with the counselor. At the same time, counselor will try to determine the motivation of both partners to make the counseling work. Subsequently, the counselor will help each partner to be emotionally honest, understand each other's feelings and engage with the difficult bits of relationship. Once all the hidden issues are admitted by both partners, the fear subsidizes and problems start looking solvable. The counselor may also take individual sessions of each partner to understand the problem better.
The success of therapy depends on each partner’s motivation to the counseling process. As a part of the process, the counselor may also establish goals for the couple and each partner should be prepared to acknowledge and understand their role in the relationship. It is common that conflict may arise during the counseling sessions as well, but good counselors are aware of how to manage such conflicts.
No all of us are equipped with relationship skills. While, we may think we are doing everything we can to solve the problems but a relationship counselor can be of great help in teaching the couples new ways of solving problems and getting the needs met.
Conflict Resolution - The most important skill that a counselor works upon is healthy resolutions to conflict. You will learn communication skills that will help you not only listen to your partner but also process what your partner is saying.
Work through unresolved issues - Counseling offers a safe environment for expressing any unhappiness or regrets you feel. Many a times, getting your feelings out into the open is all you need. You may find that your partner is willing to work together to solve the problems.
Deeper understanding of each other personality - Counseling helps partners to identify each others' needs better. At the same time, each one also learns about his or her own self - Who they are and what their needs are. The idea is to ensure that those can be fulfilled inside the relationship.
Solving a specific issue -There are cases where relationship conflict can be about a specific issue, which needs external intervention esp. when it comes to issues related to infidelity or extra marital affairs. In such situations, counseling can help you slowly get the relationship back on track if both partners are willing and motivated enough.