If you don't believe in therapy, don't bother swiping right. I already know we won't work out, and you can keep on walking. Knowing that someone accepts therapy in a positive light is crucial to a healthy relationship and eventually a marriage.
Don't judge me because I went to couples counseling before I walked down the aisle. I think everyone should consider it, and in fact, should actually do it, married or not. If you think about it, we do so much research, planning, and strategizing before a purchase or decision, why aren't we more diligent about our relationships? You wouldn't buy a car without test-driving it first, would you? In the case of relationships, many troubled couples wait until too late in the game to seek intervention. Why do people let it go that far?
Before moving to New York (and turning 30), I thought therapy in general was for people who simply couldn't figure out their emotions on their own and needed external help. Boy, was I so wrong. Not only did I realize that I needed therapy for my own personal life, I also desperately needed couples therapy to help me sort through so much of what I realized I couldn't articulate and dig deeper into without an unbiased opinion. It is interesting to notice society's reaction when you mention you go to therapy, personal or couples alike. Some people kind of nod understandingly as they silently judge you and others eyes light up with interest and acknowledgment of similar emotions to yourself. Either way, those who seek help shouldn't be judged. Fun fact: Couples therapy isn't only for those on the brink of divorce; far from it.
"Nobody should feel ashamed or embarrassed when seeking out couples therapy. But better yet, they should feel empowered that they are willing to fight for something they believe in."
Admitting I am a fan of therapy means that I am, in fact, admitting that my life (especially off social media) is far from perfect — but, great news — that I am also, in fact, human. Initially, I know the thought of couples therapy can seem really daunting and would probably be a lot less intimidating if people stopped judging it and instead respected the growth that comes from accepting help. Nobody should feel ashamed or embarrassed when seeking out couples therapy. Better yet, they should feel empowered that they are willing to fight for something they believe in. Famous writer Leo Tolstoy once said the truest words of all, "What counts in a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
Whether or not you're a couple in distress or in a seemingly perfectly happy partnership, couples therapy shouldn't be overlooked. Couples counseling totally rocks, and here's why.
1. You nip issues in the bud . . . before it's too late.
I'm an in-depth talker and my husband is a selective listener, yet we thought we had excellent communication skills. It's not like my husband and I didn't know how to resolve issues, but there were definitely many times where we both agreed to disagree and pushed issues under the rug in hopes that they would never came back. Unfortunately they come back in one form or another, and usually with a vengeance. With me, he says "I'm angry." Period. In counseling, he says "I'm angry because . . ." and with the word "because" we are able to make emotional progress in our relationship.
People are always growing and I've found that attending counseling regularly is a great emotional check in with each other to make sure we are continually walking the same line, kind of like a car tune up. Couples counseling, especially pre-marriage, is a chance for couples to dig up any little irritations such as money, anger, jealousy, or other issues that they feel might hinder them in the future. Everyone thinks they communicate effectively, but if you sit with a professional in a safe environment, you discover a lot more than you may think you already know.
2. You get about 45 minutes of unbiased and objective opinions.
Sitting with a trained professional spilling issues and problems can seem really intimidating, but remember, they do this for a living so nothing is off limits to their ears. You share, they listen and evaluate, and you leave with a mind full of objective opinions. When my husband and I first attended therapy, we were nervous and had no idea what to expect. Our therapist told us to sit facing each other and discuss a topic as if nobody else was in the room. We were then given something to argue about and our therapist observed our actions and demeanor, listened to our words carefully, and began to understand how we both operate and think. Hearing our therapist tell us what we need to work on together as a couple (and separately!) was a really valuable experience for us. Outside of the therapist's office, we can both tend to be a little stubborn but hearing a professional tell you things together, face to face, makes a world of difference, especially when you are back out in the real world on your own.
3. You gain a positive attitude when it comes to asking for help.
Say goodbye to being embarrassed about asking for directions, ahem, I mean relationship help. Asking for help with anything can be a challenge, so when my husband and I decided to ask for help with our relationship, it broke down walls of embarrassment and shame for us. We then acknowledged that getting help when you need it, no matter what it is, made us a less vulnerable and more empowered couple. So now when JP says "I don't want to ask for directions . . ." I remind him that it's only directions were asking for.
4. You remember to celebrate the strengths of your relationship or marriage.
Nobody's relationship is perfect, no matter what social media tells you, and in therapy you will realize the areas in which your relationship flourishes and fails. Because we spend so much time focusing on the arguments and fights, we forget to celebrate what we are doing well in our relationships, and couples therapy helps celebrate the strengths. Your therapist may tell you what you may not want to hear, but you will listen and grow. Remember these trained therapists have heard it all before and they can offer the most comprehensive advice and solutions. You're more likely to listen and take advice from a trained professional. Through couples therapy, my husband has graduated from being mad and telling me about it years later, to being able to understand the emotion and then articulate it no more than a week later, and that is progress!
5. With clear minds and full hearts, you can't lose.
Attending couples therapy will give you clear results, one way or another. Through the tips, emotional digging, and heart-opening conversations, you will have a much clearer picture of how your marriage will continue on or if separate paths are the way to go. Think of your therapist as your coach and their tips and advice as "plays" that will always be in your benefit so that your team wins at a successful relationship. Problems or not, if you and your partner are willing to even go to therapy together, you are already ahead of the game.
There is no such thing as the perfect marriage or relationship, but there is such a thing as doing your absolute best for the sake of your relationship. At the end of the day, nothing is ever a guarantee; marriage isn't, and neither is couples counseling. I'm not saying that couples therapy is for everyone or will be the solution you are looking for, but don't knock it until you try it out for yourself. May the odds be ever in your favor.