Therapy, in general, has only become more acceptable to talk about in the past decade or so. These days, especially among younger generations, saying you’re seeing a therapist is viewed as a green flag: You’re choosing to work on yourself, good job!
Many people still hesitate to talk discuss couples therapy, however, because there is still the inherent belief that if you’re at “that point,” things have gone too far. There must be a crisis you’re trying to solve. Something has gone unquestionably wrong. But why are we prioritizing our relationships so little?
If we seek out help to become the best version of ourselves we can be individually, why aren’t we doing the same as couples?
Even if you are in a healthy, happy relationship, chances are you can still benefit from couples therapy. Think of it as trying to prevent an illness, rather than finding a cure after it has already spread. Seeking help early on can ensure you create a safe line of communication with your partner, preventing issues from spiralling in the future.
This is because you will be approaching any differences from a place of empathy, not defensiveness. Not only that, but therapy can help in other ways–if you’re approaching a big life change together, for instance, navigating it might be easier in a neutral space. Or perhaps one of you has a harder time establishing boundaries or opening up. In this case, having a neutral third party’s help can be useful.
Sharing your life with another person is never easy. People are different, they change, they evolve. But finding ways to connect without feeling attacked is important, or every little conflict is bound to snowball eventually.
According to the Gottman Institute, most couples spend an average of six years feeling unhappy before seeking help. If therapy isn’t something you can do right now, be it for financial reasons or something else, there are other ways in which you can create that space to be vulnerable with your partner so that you can grow together instead of apart.
Many religious practices offer counseling services to married couples, or those looking to take that next step. Non-practicing? No problem. Try reading a book on relationships with your partner. Maybe carve out some time to play a game together, or answer a daily question.
Whatever it looks like to you, just make sure you are connecting with each other and openly talking about your expectations before resentment starts to set in. Remember: the longer you take, the deeper the cracks will be, and the harder you’ll have to work at fixing them.