12 Signs You May Need Couples Counseling

Dr. John Gottman, researcher and cofounder of the Gottman Institute, has found through his research that most couples are unhappy for years before addressing their relationship issues. This long delay is not only harmful to the relationship, in many cases it can seriously jeopardize its survival as well. Longstanding problems, mixed with years of resentment, is a recipe that unfortunately spells doom to many relationships. When couples seek assistance from a couples counselor as a last resort, it often occurs too late to repair the damage.

Most couples can benefit from couples counseling. This is true even when issues are minor. However, longstanding, entrenched conflicts may require more intense work, as often at least one partner’s motivation may be compromised. Identifying problems and seeking therapeutic support early on can make a huge difference. By learning to recognize potential red flags, you can stay ahead of the game, and keep major relationship difficulties from developing.

Early Warning Signs of Relationship Trouble

  1. You’re feeling more like roommates than soul mates. Couples can feel disconnected for many reasons. It’s important to figure out why, and realize it might be a sign that there could be deeper issues lurking below the surface.
  2. Lack of passion or interest in sex; loss of libido. While it’s possible some couples might be happy with an inactive sex life, there are usually other relationship issues contributing to the situation. If your sex life isn’t a priority, reasons should be investigated.
  3. You’ve drifted apart, living parallel lives and have few shared activities. Why is there a lack of effort put into finding activities you’d both enjoy?
  4. Frequent conflict over little things. Or you keep having the same argument over and over again without being able to communicate and resolve the issue. Often in this scenario, there’s a power struggle or underlying resentment going on. Or, the real problem may just be too scary to deal with and thus it stays buried, negatively manifesting in other ways.
  5. Anger. If one partner is angry in general or seems easily frustrated, it can reflect problems in the relationship. These emotional outbursts might also be reflective of an individual problem, but couples counseling could still be beneficial.
  6. Men who frequently text their intimate partner (connected to hurting their partner in the process) may indicate a relationship problem. According to recent research, there is a negative association between men texting their intimate partners and their relationship satisfaction. The study, conducted by Brigham Young University, has found that the more men text within the relationship, the more unhappy they are.
  7. If major decisions are avoided and never made (perhaps about getting married, having children or moving), couples counseling could help resolve the impasse.
  8. Financial disagreement is a huge issue among couples, and deserves its own category. A couples counselor can help you work through this difficult conflict area.
  9. If one partner is controlling and refuses to compromise in order to resolve conflict, bigger problems are likely ahead.
  10. Major life transitions such as a death in the family, birth of a new baby, dealing with a long-distance relationship, or having your mother-in-law move in, will require major adjustments. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Plan ahead and work out a strategy to manage the transition with a couples therapist.
  11. If you and your significant other have stopped reaching out to one another, or quit making repair attempts (What’s a repair attempt? Look here) after a disagreement or conflict, this is another red flag that indicates your relationship needs attention.
  12. Infidelity or trust issues usually require supportive couples counseling. Most couples can’t navigate these serious problems on their own. If one partner is even contemplating an affair, counseling can help. One warning sign to watch for is the inclination to seek emotional support outside the relationship with the opposite sex (or with the same sex in homosexual relationships).

Even if you don’t identify with any of the above 12 warning signs, it’s a good idea to have a “tune up” counseling session from time to time, to make sure you and your partner are maximizing the quality of your relationship. If these warning signs uncover areas in your relationship that need to be addressed, don’t wait. Take action now to make your future together as fulfilling as possible!

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