...and why you shouldn't wait too long to attend.
The most common mistake couples in crisis make is seeking help when it’s too late, says psychotherapist and leading relationship expert Melissa Ferrari.
“Couples wait an average of six unhappy years before getting counselling. Many times, the built-up resentment has by then become too over-powering and one person may have already given up. Relationship counselling works but, ideally, it shouldn’t be a last-minute resort,” she explains.
Instead, Melissa advises couples to conduct an annual evaluation of their love lives.
“We organise yearly health checks with doctors and dentists, so why shouldn’t we take our relationships just as seriously? Every year, or your anniversary, or on a special ‘date night’, take some time together to reflect on and discuss your relationship – are you happy, what should you be doing more or less of? Consider seeing a counsellor for guidance because they can help solve quarrels before they turn into big problems and even pre-empt a separation down the track,” she says.
So what are the signs that you need couple counselling? Below, Melissa lists the most common relationship red flags.
You keep having the same arguments – Is your marriage a version of ‘Groundhog Day’ in all the wrong ways? Do you have the same disagreements on the same issues over and over again? Therapy can help you not only understand why you keep having reoccurring issues, but help you resolve them – once and for all.
You’ve stopped being intimate – Don’t remember the last time you had sex, kissed or even held hands? Intimacy is considered a barometer for your relationship. Couple counselling can help uncover the real reason behind the lack of physical closeness, and help reignite the fire.
You find fault in everything your partner does – Do you criticise your partner for everything they do and don’t do? Do you badmouth your other half in front of friends and family? Resentment is at the root of many toxic relationships, but by seeking help, both parties can get the right tools for overcoming bitterness and rebuilding a healthy relationship.
You lead separate lives – Are you more housemates than lovers? A therapist can help you reconnect with your partner on a romantic level and remind you of why you fell in love in the first place.
You don’t trust your partner – When you trust someone, you feel physically and emotionally safe with them. Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and if it is missing – whether your partner has broken that confidence or if you have inherent trust issues – it is a problem that requires resolving. A counsellor can help with establishing and restoring trust.
You have financial fights – Money is the cause of many relationship breakdowns and divorces, even when it comes to couples that are financially well off. We fight over financial matters because we tend to have different, deeply rooted beliefs about the best way to use money. Relationship counselling can help you understand your partner’s differing point of perspective, and guide you both towards a resolution.
You feel like you partner doesn’t listen to you – Do you feel ignored by your partner? No matter how many times you’ve said something, he/she doesn’t listen? Communication is key in happy relationships, and it is indeed a two-way street and couple counselling can help you both improve your communication skills.
You’re thinking about having an affair – Social media has made it easier than ever to cheat, so if you find yourself sending flirty messages to co-workers, friends or even strangers, you are one step closer to having an affair. Couple therapy can help explore what it is you’re lacking in your current relationship and solve the problem if you cross that line.
For more tips, daily quotes and information about love, dating, relationships and happiness visit my Facebook page Melissa Ferrari - Psychotherapist & Relationship Expert. Also available is information about couple therapy and how it can help your relationships.