There’s a preconceived notion that only couples experiencing relationship issues should see a therapist. While couples counseling is recommended for anyone with marital problems, that’s not the only reason to schedule sessions.
Couples counseling is a great way to get to know your spouse on a deeper level while taking preventative measures to combat any potential problems. These seven benefits indicate that your marriage (no matter how troubled or enjoyable) can be supported by quality couples counseling:
1. Improve communication skills
We all know that communication is a major cornerstone of every relationship, yet it seems to be something we all struggle with at times. This is, perhaps, because each of us has a different style of communication. You and your spouse certainly don’t have to agree on everything, but you should be able to appropriately relay your thoughts and feelings on a specific subject matter. In couples counseling, you will become equipped with the right tools to learn how to communicate effectively, solve problems, and understand the other’s point of view.
2. Learn more about each other
This may surprise you, but whether you’ve been married 5, 15, or 55 years, there are probably still some things you have yet to discover about your partner. Sure, you may know their favorite clothing brand, how they take their morning coffee, or how to brighten their mood on a bad day, but do you TRULY understand your partner’s needs? Have you re-familiarized yourself with their love maps? Do you know their love language? Couples counseling will allow you and your spouse to connect and understand one another in an even deeper way.
3. Practice assertiveness over aggression
No matter how healthy your relationship is, there are probably times when you get fed up, irritated, or even angry at one another. Couples counseling can help you to state your needs and get them met without engaging in repetitious arguments.
4. Learn to acknowledge instead of avoid
Just as some couples handle conflict aggressively, others handle it passively. They like to bury their heads in the sand, pretending a problem doesn’t exist. Conflict is inevitable and is not something to fear. In couples counseling, you and your spouse can have a safe, unfiltered conversation about some issues you tend to slip under the relationship rug.
5. Open yourself up to vulnerability
You and your partner love each other, right? Are you each other’s most trusted confidants? Perhaps there are still some things you probably don’t feel comfortable discussing with them. This could be anything from an embarrassing secret to unresolved trauma. While in couples counseling, you have access to an objective third party. You’re in a safe space. There, you’re encouraged to explore your deepest feelings, shared with one another, and receive support. By practicing this vulnerability in couples counseling, you’ll eventually be able to take home much-improved communication and empathy skills.
6. Prevent change from hijacking your connection
The longer you and your spouse are together, the more likely it is that problems arise. While there is nothing inherently “wrong” with a problem, you want to be prepared to cope productively. As life is happening, a counselor can help you and your partner identify trouble spots, encourage strengths, and stay on course regarding your relationship goals. By acknowledging challenges and transitions with a counselor, you can move forward more successfully.
7. Gain more mutual respect
Throughout the couples counseling process, you can come to understand yourself and your partner on a deeper level. You’ll understand why they react a certain way. You’ll gain insights into why particular responses or interactions really bother you. By understanding the reasoning behind your thoughts and feelings, you’ll be able to better respect each other.
Don’t shy away from couples counseling. It isn’t a sign that your relationship is on its last legs. You certainly needn’t wait that long. Take the next steps to better your relationship. Your marriage can benefit from having an encouraging counselor in your corner.
Jill Baumgarner, MA is a licensed professional counselor intern with the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. If you are seeking to improve your marriage or relationship with your partner, contact Jill at 512-270-4883, ext. 108, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.