Five Common Reasons for Couple’s Therapy
All couples experience conflict. For some it’s battles about money. The coronavirus pandemic has added yet another potential stressor: more time at home together, which can exacerbate tensions or expose hidden cracks in a relationship.
Therapy can help. Contrary to what some may believe, it’s not about finger-pointing — who did what or who is to blame. Rather, “couple’s therapy provides tools for communicating and asking for what you need,”.
These are five common reasons couples seek relationship help.
1. You’ve grown apart
After years of marriage, some couples no longer engage with each other and merely coexist as roommates. Divorce incidence peaks at different times.
Couples often forget what brought them together in the first place, why they fell in love. If you’ve been with somebody for a long time, you’ve built a life narrative, memories and a history that you can’t recoup with someone else. Couples therapy can help reignite that.
2. You clash about money
Money has always been a contentious issue for couples, but throw in additional late-in-life concerns that baby boomers confront — potential health problems, fewer (and fewer) years of earning power, not to mention lousy interest rates.
Clashes may stem from differing spending styles or disagreements on how to save for, and spend, retirement.
Therapy helps people understand their relationship with money and the way that it shapes their thoughts about themselves and about other people.
3. You have lots of unproductive, hurtful arguments
We all have different ways of handling conflict. Some of us thrive on confrontation; others turn heel when things get heated. And then there are the passive-aggressive types. Big blowouts can leave behind tears and hurt feelings, but frequent bickering can be just as destructive.
An argument is not in and of itself a bad thing; rather, it’s the way people handle the conflict that can make it unhealthy.
Couples therapy teaches you how to diffuse disagreements in a healthy way — reasonably and respectfully.
4. You’re going through a big transition
“Even if you and your partner are getting along fine, a big change can shake up the dynamic of your relationship,” McManus says. “And different coping styles are going to create friction.”
It could be an illness, retirement or having the last of your children move out.
Suddenly finding yourself caring for an ill parent, which can consume a big portion of your time and attention, presents a different set of challenges. If your spouse doesn’t understand the stress or isn’t supportive, it can stir up feelings of frustration and resentment. Couples therapy can help you deal with the new normal by restoring the connection you and your partner once shared.
5. You want to avoid divorce or have an amicable one
Sometimes couples have mixed agendas. One person wants to split up or get divorced, and the other one wants to save the relationship.
If it’s become apparent that this isn’t a marriage that can work, therapy can be a way of providing for a less toxic split. “Protracted, messy divorces have a lot to do with not being able to let go,” Ross observes. “If a couple can process ‘How did we get here?’ and get past blaming each other, they can move on in a more adult way that does less damage to everyone involved.”