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When to Seek Couples Counseling - 5 Signs to Watch For

How do you know if it's just a bump in the path, or whether it's a slump in the road of your 'happily ever after' journey?

Counseling can almost always be helpful, whether there are clinical issues, large relationship problems, or you're just seeking a better relationship.  However, if you are wondering about when to seek counseling...

... here are 5 signs that you need couples counseling:

Unresolved Continuing/ Repeating Conflict, Including Cheating.

If there is any conflict that has escalated to unbearable heights, or either party has resorted to unfair fighting or if there is no sign of improvement, perhaps due to stonewalling or refusing to work towards solutions, seek help.

This can mean infidelity, thoughts of considering infidelity, that feeling of "we are just going to argue about this again, and get nowhere," or hiding significant actions, thoughts or deeds to avoid a confrontation. 

No couple is going to agree on everything for all eternity, but if there are important matters that continue to strain a relationship, the sooner those issues are brought under control, the happier everyone can be. 

One or Both Parties Are Unhappy with State or Direction of Relationship.

Maybe it is a "mid-life" crisis.  Maybe it is a general feeling of "growing apart," or just "going through the motions."  Most relationships require nurturing and renewal, as well as adjustments for ages and stages.  Counseling can provide education, information, and help find new ways of relating. 

Any Violence, Destruction, Abuse or Threats of any Unacceptable Behavior.  Any Substance Abuse. 

These are major red-flags.  Even if it was "only once" or "well, my partner is just really stressed right now," anytime a relationship has strayed into any of these types of territories, intervention or at the very least, information, is needed immediately.  If there are children involved, the safety and health of the children must come first.  Contact your local crisis intervention resource as soon as possible or nearest substance abuse center for educational assistance and advice.   

Unable to Carry out Everyday Activities. 

If tension in the relationship is causing either party to miss work, discontinue personal or household maintenance, or long-held hobbies or activities, it may be useful to seek help.  Certainly we all may experience times when we just need a break.  However, if it goes on for too long or endangers the financial or physical stability of the couple or family, counseling can assess the needs, and guide the way towards solutions.

Anything Affecting Quality of Relationships or Time Spent Nurturing Relationships. 

Health issues, depression, unwelcome habits, new hobbies, or major life changes can all affect the nature of our relationships and the time we have to spend with those we love.  We are not born automatically knowing everything we need to know to thrive in every possible relationship, so counseling can help us see things we might be "too close" to see, provide new insights and new skills, and help couples figure out how to navigate the new and ever-changing waters of life.  

In general, anytime either party in a relationship might feel something isn't going well or needs to change or simply wants to enhance what is there, counseling can be a great benefit.  Life is short, and the time we have with our primary relationships/significant others is even shorter.  Why not invest a little time to make the time we do have together the best it can be!

From Victim Advocacy with survivors of abuse and violence, case management with senior citizens and their families, counseling with at-risk youth and their families, to therapy with adults fighting addiction - bereavement, depression, relationship issues, parenting issues, divorce, blended families, disability, career changes, life changes, my professional experience has encountered it all (so to speak). Fitness, health, coping with chronic illness, aging parents, raising children, job loss, job stress,.... and the list goes on!

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