Do You Need Couples Counseling?
This guest post was submitted by Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a counselor and speaker in Baltimore, MD, and the director of the Baltimore Therapy Center.
Every relationship has its ups and downs. Fights and arguments are a normal part a living as a pair. But how does one know if things have gone too far? When is it time to seek professional help for relationship problems? Here are a few red flags that might indicate to you it's time to consider speaking with a counselor to hash out the rough spots in your relationship.
You keep having fights about the same subject.
If there is an issue that keeps coming up in your interactions and souring your relationship, that is something to look at. Big differences in opinions, perspectives, or values can cause a serious rift in a relationship - but they don't have to. As it turns out, research shows that many if not most couples live with “irreconcilable differences” - so the problem is not that you have them, but how you handle them. If the question of how you spend your money, or the role of your parents in your lives, or your child-rearing practices keeps coming up and turning nasty, getting professional help to sort through the issue is critical. These important conversations can be difficult to have, but with a compassionate and competent counselor you can learn how to live and love together even in the face of such differences.
You keep having fights about any subject at all.
For some couples, it's not one specific issue, but every issue. Anything they try to discuss turns into an argument. Any topic is fertile ground for mean comments, criticism, and contempt. The subject matter may be significant or trivial, but the real problem is generally not the subject that is being discussed but rather a much more global issue that is plaguing the relationship that is not being dealt with. The frustrations and resentment over that issue end up coloring every other discussion that you have and turning your home into a battlefield. When everything is a fight, a therapist can be a great resource for helping uncover what is going on underneath that and resolving the tension that is leading to these constant arguments.
You never fight at all.
To be clear, It is probably a good thing if you and your partner never come to blows. But as we said above, arguments are a normal part of a relationship. If the two of you never disagree and there's never any conflict of opinions at all, it's a good bet that one or both of you are quashing your frustrations and allowing resentment to build up. It's okay to be angry with your partner. It's okay to not like something they are doing. It is far worse to drive those emotions inside and not deal with them - eventually they will explode outwards, or simply kill the emotional attachment in a relationship so that it quietly but surely falls apart.
This is not a comprehensive list of problems that might be helped by couples counseling. If you are seeing any of these red flags in your relationship or other problems you have been unable to solve on your own, please contact us to see how we can help you.