Is Relationship Counseling Right For Us?
The road to a happy relationship isn’t necessarily, or even usually, bump-free. More often than not, you’ll encounter inaccessible roadblocks, circuitous detours, and unforeseen potholes that wipe out your sense of internal alignment. That’s because finding your own life journey is hard. But interweaving your life journey with someone else’s—when each of you carries your own unique sets of baggage into the relationship? That’s infinitely more challenging. Especially when the person whom you love is tailor-made to get beneath your skin.
Luckily, with a little TLC, most relationships are salvageable. Even if you feel as though you and your partner have reached an impasse, we can help you both get jump-started and moving in the right direction again!
Common Topics Addressed During Relationship Counseling & Therapy
- Cohabitation: Most newlywed couples experience the end of the honeymoon period; for newly cohabitating couples, the effect is similar. Whenever you attempt to merge two lives, ensuing conflict during the adjustment period is the norm. After all, we all have different patterns of living, and loving someone doesn’t mean that you won’t occasionally find their habits to be absolutely disgusting or infuriating! Relationship counseling can help you ease into the transition period, learn how to cope with clashing personality traits and unexpected discoveries (see: disgusting & infuriating habits), and establish guidelines to keep the peace with your simultaneously cherished and exasperating new roommate.
- Conflict & Communication: High conflict couples have a tendency to allow emotions to rule their dialogue. Although being truthful about your feelings is (generally) important, if your every conversation with your partner devolves into an emotionally-charged free-for-all, you may need assistance pulling off the boxing gloves and developing strategies to fight fairly. Relationship counseling can teach you how to express hurt, without delivering hurtful barbs (those verbal “knock-out” blows) in retaliation.
- Money Matters: As the popular misquote goes, “Money is the root of all evil”—and of many a relationship’s rifting, too. Where finances become entwined, resentments can flourish—especially when one partner feels that the other is spending too impulsively or is failing to contribute their equal share. Relationship counseling can help you define and compromise on establishing financial boundaries, so that the purse strings never become your rationale for severing the heartstrings.
- Sexual intimacy: How do you recover when the frequency or quality of sex has become such a precarious subject in your relationship that the mood feels permanently set to “awkward”? Relationship counseling can be used to address the gamut of sexual intimacy issues, from performance anxiety & low libido concerns to busy lifestyles that allow for only tiny pockets of intimate time, to repairing instances of emotional disconnection that have impaired your physical connection from deepening and enriching.
- Psych Issues & Chronic Illness: When a partner is chronically ill, or suffers from a psychiatric condition such as depression or addiction, the other partner—no matter how supportive—can suffer from emotional burnout. Relationship counselors can assist partners to discretely identify delicate issues that they need to work on individually; instruct partners as to how to best support one another through challenging times; and nip codependency—when one partner unwittingly enables the other partner’s destructive behavior—in the bud.
- Jealousy & Infidelity: Sometimes jealousy is warranted, like when you learn that your partner is conducting an affair; but other times, it’s self-fulfilling: we fear losing our partner so much that our jealousy actually pushes them away. The flip side of the coin is infidelity. Most affairs are born out of relationship dissatisfaction or personal unhappiness. We all want to feel wanted; so sometimes an individual will seek to capture that feeling outside of their relationship—especially if the need for affirmation grows strong enough. Relationship counseling can empower you to scrutinize and conquer your jealousy; articulate your hurt and heal from a partner’s infidelity; and break destructive patterns of sexually or emotionally transgressing with others outside of your monogamous relationship.
- Breakups: Counseling for relationships isn’t intended purely for couples. Sometimes our most insurmountable challenges involve recovering after the relationship has already ended—when hiding from the world and grieving the loss of what once was is at its most appealing. In this context, therapy can encourage you to probe for what went right and what went wrong; and embolden you to reconstitute your life even in the wake of feeling devastated.
How Can Relationship Counseling & Therapy Improve the Quality of My Relationship?
Relationships have their unique way of tugging at what’s best and what’s worst inside of us. Effective relationship counseling will address—but not harp—on our flaws; and flesh out our best traits, so that our relationships can continue to improve and thrive. Your therapist will assist you to:
- Verbalize your expectations for the relationship on crucial topics (money matters, sexual intimacy, establishing a work/life balance, parenting, plus more+)
- Impart tried-and-true wisdom to improve your communication with your partner, so that you both can learn how to express disagreement without tearing one another down
- Share space (cohabitate) without simply co-existing (inhabiting the same geographical space while losing your emotional connection) or becoming embattled in household power struggles (like who took out the trash last or washed the dishes, etc., etc. ad infinitum)
- Devote time in your busy schedules to romantic or sexual intimacy; and identify solutions to outwit performance anxiety or low arousal
- Conquer irrational feelings of jealousy & the fear of abandonment, so that pesky self-doubt doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophesy that heralds the destruction of your relationship
- Tackle personal issues that modify the dynamics of the relationship, for example, a partner’s substance abuse or diagnosis with a chronic illness
- Recuperate from breakups, relationship abuse, or infidelity