When is the right time to go to couples counseling?

Simone Koger, MA, LMFTA, CGP



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Like the saying goes- "you know when you know(?)"

Couples counseling is still (sadly) pretty taboo for a lot of people due to the way society has made it seem. It implies an undertone of shame or failure- when really every couple should be going to couples counseling at some point in their relationship. The shame comes from this oppressive idea that the former way of "hetero-normative relationships" where a woman is obedient to their husband is somehow better than having good communication, trust, connection, intimacy, and all the other things that build healthy relationships. The longer we are in relationships, the more we individually change or grow as people- which means the relationship we entered all those years ago can be very different than what it is now.

A good example of this is new parents. I work with a lot of new parents in couples work and I think that couples counseling should be part of your "new parent package" of resources they give you after you have a baby. Your roles have just drastically changed for LIFE. You are no longer just individuals that are making a marriage, relationship, connection work- you are in charge of a whole other human being! When our roles change, there can be shifts in how we want to communicate.

Communication dynamics can be hard to recognize without a non-judgmental person looking at your relationship from the outside. Sometimes when you are too close to the situation it is hard to understand your own patterns and that is why therapy exists. Therapy for couples & relationships is a great support system to work through building new skills, communication, trust, processing painful emotions, understanding your partner(s) better, and so many other wonderful things that can create an even stronger relationship than you had before.

How do you know, you know?

There is know one reason to go to couples therapy. If you are experiencing:

  • miscommunication
  • don't know if your life goals/views align
  • processing infidelity
  • fighting
  • low intimacy
  • distrust
  • resentment
  • wishing you were closer to your partner
  • wondering if you can stay together

Maybe it is time to check in with a counselor.

There are some helpful resources you can also try at home, but in my experience even the best at home resources don't alleviate the full issue when you don't have an outside perspective.

If you are hoping to try at home resources before entering couples therapy, here are a few options:

The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work

The Relationship Cure

The Gottman Institute: https://www.gottman.com/