By Carolina Pena, M.S., LPC-Intern, LCDC
Supervised by Melinda Porter, MA, LPC-S

Often times, people do not get into a relationship with the tools to manage the future challenges or life stressors; and most couples struggle to maintain their relationship with their partner at some point in their relationship So, when is the right time to seek help, how do you decide to start seeing a counselor? Most married couples try to solve their problems on their own, and many will succeed. However, the cause or causes of an issue or stress in the relationship may not be obvious to either partner. Other times, if the causes are obvious, they are just nervous or afraid to bring these problems up. It could also happen that bringing them up in the wrong way end up causing even more conflicts, frustrations and withdraw. Truth is, that most couples wait too long before seeking help, but research shows it is best served if couples seek help sooner rather than later.

The most common reasons couples seek the help of a couple counselor is because they feel they are growing apart from their partner or are experiencing disagreements in the relationship. But of course, there are many other reasons causing problems in a relationship, including having children, experiencing a traumatic event, or being busy with other things, including work. In fact, some people start to feel this way even without any obvious relationship changes because the people within the relationship are changing and growing. This is a natural and healthy part of long-term relationships, but it can also seem scary. Instead of feeling scary, it should feel exciting, and a couple or marriage counselor can help you and your partner to navigate this space and the emotions that can come with it.
No matter why you want to seek marriage counseling, it is important to seek counseling before either member of the relationship feels the marriage cannot be saved. Many couples wait an average of 6 years to seek counseling after problems arise, increasing the chance that counseling will be less effective. In some unfortunate cases, this can lead the couple to blame the counselor for not being able to save the relationship. This would be like contracting a disease but ignoring it for several years and blaming your doctor when they could not treat the condition

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Therefore, seeking help from a couple or marriage counselor can be greatly beneficial – to both of you as individuals and to the relationship. A couple counselor can teach couples new ways of relating to with each partner, as well as giving tools to strengthen their relationship and provide an unbiased space for new and open communication to occur.

Sources: Debra Smouse. Jon Jaehnig. Rawpixel