Couples don’t typically seek couples counseling until their situation is catastrophic. Couples counseling is often a last resort for a couple in crisis. The stigma associated with needing a therapist can prevent a great many couples from seeking counseling right when the trouble begins, or even before problems begin, at all. Every so often, brave couples come to the couch when nothing is wrong. These couples seek to prevent rather than cure.
Here are some reasons why seeking couples counseling when nothing is wrong can be better than starting once problems have already begun:
Conflict is always obvious
Conflict is often so much more obvious to a bystander than to the parties involved. Problems masked by poor communication can make problem solving so much easier for people who have found a professional to help them determine potential problems in the marriage that they might not even be aware of. Of course, not every couple needs a therapist to manage their problems, but having an objective third party in the room probably doesn’t hurt.
You get an “A” for effort
The effort, alone, required to make it to couples counseling consistently can mean that couples are putting more energy and effort into the marriage and into problem solving than couples that don’t. The idea of attending couples counseling for preventative maintenance rather than crisis control can be of enormous value. Making couples counseling a priority can lead to feelings of teamwork and solidarity.
Life is a mystery
With life’s constant unpredictability, no couple can be truly safe from mishap or misfortune–the stronger a couple’s foundation from the beginning, the better. The couple that takes the time to have a structured check-in with each other, either weekly, or on any consistent basis, could have an advantage at taking on life together and establishing feelings of safety and cohesion. Forever and ever is a long time, and anything can happen, so it’s most likely something to prepare in advance.
Remember that counseling is not only for couples in distress but also for couples who are happy with their relationships.
Denise Limongello, LMSW, is a passionate and dedicated therapist who obtained her graduate degree from Columbia University, School of Social Work. She is also a graduate of Miss Porter’s School and Tulane University. Denise began her clinical career at The Renfrew Center of New York and has since then worked across all levels of care including Inpatient, Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient, and Outpatient, Private Practice settings.