In a relationship? If the answer is “yes,” it’s time to consider couples therapy.
Counseling may seem like a waste of effort when things are going smoothly, but therapists around the country say it’s always a good time to stop in; you don’t need a huge problem to be the catalyst. (A strong case can even be made for going to a marriage therapist on your own, believe it or not.)
Below, therapists share six reasons why therapy works wonders for even the healthiest, happy couples.
Therapy keeps you healthier as a couple, physically and mentally.
“Maintenance of a happy, deeply connected relationship is just as important for your health as a consistent workout regime. Research indicates that unhappily married couples experience more health problems overall. The flip side of this is true for couples who maintain those loving feelings. In general, happily married people, especially men, are healthier. So next time you throw on your athleisure wear, consider swapping one of your spin classes for couples therapy to keep your health and longevity on the up and up.” ― Laura Heck, a marriage and family therapist in Salt Lake City, Utah
It can take your relationship from good to great.
“I’ve always been a believer that therapy is not just for making dysfunctional relationships good, but for making good relationships great. Smart couples are aware that tension and stress are a normal part of any relationship, and will work toward resilience instead of waiting for problems to erupt and rely on the repair process. I’ve worked with clients who return for a month or two of sessions every time a transition is about to occur in their lives: a job change, a new baby, moving, a dying loved one, etc. They come when they know a change is about to happen so they have a safe environment to discuss their fears, excitement, the logistics, judgments and whatever else they anticipate could emerge with the adjustment. We meet, they voice concerns, we strategize and they feel better equipped for the upcoming changes. It has always worked great for them. ― Ryan Howes, a psychologist in Pasadena, California
It makes you a more active participant in your relationship.
“There are many things in our lives that we work at getting better at ― we all have hobbies we enjoy and for many of us our work requires continuing education. Most of us exercise to stay healthy and in shape. But when it comes to relationships, we all want so much out of our partners, but naively expect that it should just come without putting in much effort. If we expect that we’ll need to practice and get the help of an expert in other areas of our life, why don’t we do the same in our love lives too? The rewards for going to therapy as as couple are tremendous ― love, sex, happiness, financial stability, health, the list goes on and on.” ― Kurt Smith, a therapist who counsels men
You learn how to communicate effectively.
“Therapy is great for couples at every stage of the relationship, not just when problems strike ― and is especially good for a relationship in its infancy. Couples who come to therapy are able to sharpen communication skills and give them tools to keep at the ready for when issues arise. Great communication and fewer misunderstandings can nip challenges in the bud and prevent them from spiraling out of control. Couples counseling can also help partners learn new sexual techniques and also help them to get comfortable discussing sex and sexual preferences, something outside of many people’s comfort zones.” ― Laurel Steinberg, a New York-based sexologist and adjunct professor of psychology at Columbia University
It gives you a safe, open space to address complaints you haven’t voiced to your partner.
“Take a behavior that six months ago was slightly annoying to you, such as your partner forgetting to turn off the lights before leaving the house. At some point, you might start to think, ‘I bet other people’s spouses remember to turn off the lights and aren’t so wasteful.’ Seek out couples therapy before you get to the point. You never want to unfavorably judge your partner’s behavior and compare it with real or imagined alternatives.” ― Danielle Kepler, a therapist in Chicago, Illinois
Think of it this way: You wouldn’t wait until your tooth cracked on a Saturday night to find a dentist.
“You should have a therapist in your portfolio the same way you have a financial advisor, or mechanic or a dentist. The worst time to look for a new dentist is late on Saturday night when you’ve just blown up a molar on a pistachio. Even if your relationship isn’t in trouble, it’s good to have some strategy for checking in and staying connected. That could be date night or a shared activity you love, but going to therapy can help expose questions you didn’t know to ask. A good therapist can help you dive deeper into issues that may be surprising you. They can hold you accountable for prioritizing your relationship. You’re more likely to have a 60th anniversary party if you have intentional strategies for maintaining the health of the relationship.” ― Zach Brittle, a therapist and founder of the online couples therapy series forBetter