When my partner and I first went to couples counseling, we thought we were just going for a “checkup.” The therapist would give us a thumbs-up, tell us our relationship was in great shape, and we’d go out into the world as the perfect power couple. If that sounds like a lot of rationalization, that’s because it is.
Our therapist immediately picked up that we were concealing a deep insecurity. We knew we had something good, but were both terrified of losing it. We kept things from each other, in the hopes that by never rocking the boat, we’d always be fine. But we also knew that the boat sometimes needed to be rocked.
Still, we were in a good place in our relationship. We got along great and had recently moved in together. Most couples don’t consider going to couples therapy unless the relationship is falling apart. I’m glad we didn’t wait, because it is much easier to build on a growing relationship than to patch one together when it is falling apart.
Is couples counseling right for you, even if your relationship seems healthy? Here are the reasons you should consider it.
We’re all uneducated
It has become a common complaint online that school doesn’t teach you the practical things – doing your taxes, going to job interviews, and so on. But it’s not just the administrative parts of life about which we remain uneducated.
School doesn’t teach us about self-discovery, let alone discovery of ourselves in the context of a relationship. For most people, the only education about relationships comes from watching their parents. If you had two parents in a healthy relationship as you grew up, you probably picked up some pointers. Otherwise, everything else comes from TV and guesswork.
Couples counseling not only gives you the opportunity to explore your relationship, but it makes space for you to explore what a healthy relationship actually looks like.
Learn about your patterns
Beyond learning about what a healthy relationship looks like in general, couples therapy will give you the opportunity to unearth habits and patterns you adopted while growing up. These patterns can be extremely costly if you are not aware of them.
For example, some people shut down when someone argues with them. In a relationship, this behavior makes it difficult to resolve issues and can be incredibly frustrating to both partners. Other people have the opposite tendency, to become oppositional in the face of any perceived slight.
You need to discover your habits so that you can manage them, rather than letting them control you.
Learn about your partner
Couples counseling also gives you the chance to learn about your partner. You can use this time to understand why they respond to you in certain ways, and how you can communicate with them most effectively.
At the same time, they are learning all about you. Most people make the mistake of assuming their partner has the same expectations that they have. This is generally not the case. What you like to hear from your partner might trigger something negative if you say it to them.
Without exploring these differences, you are unlikely to learn about them before they cause serious issues.
Couples therapy is a great idea for any couple, no matter how well things are going. Consider giving it a try. Your future self will thank yourself for it.