By: Chad Eckert, MA & Laura Oyer, PhD, HSPP
Couples counseling is often associated with taboo imagery of couples secretly meeting with a “shrink” to help fix a broken marriage on the verge of divorce. Sure, sometimes extremes like this occur, but it’s actually less common than you might think. Your relationship does not need to be on the brink of divorce before you go to couples counseling. Below are some surprising reasons couples attend counseling.
1. Improve an already stable relationship
One surprising reason couples may enter into counseling is to improve upon an already healthy and stable relationship. Counseling is appropriate and effective for people throughout the continuum, from deep despair and tragedy to maximizing potential and thriving. When people want to improve upon an already stable relationship, counseling can help couples turn up their potential for growth and help develop deeper connection and intimacy.
2. Premarital counseling
Another unexpected reason couples seek help is for pre-marital counseling. SYMBIS (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts) is an assessment utilized by Crosswinds for couples preparing for marriage, blending families, and also those who are already married but want to grow deeper in their understanding of their similarities and differences. It helps couples discover insights and skills to strengthen their bond by analyzing the following aspects: mindset, well-being, social support, finances, expectations, and remarriage or blended families.
3. Focus on a variety of topics
Not all couples counseling needs to be focused on conflict. Some topics couples may want to focus on to improve their relationship include: developing better communication skills, parenting skills, and enhancing physical and emotional intimacy. Grief and loss, even from years past, may also be a topic of discussion, as well as major life transitions. The birth of a child, finances, sexual concerns, and empty nesting are all surprisingly valid reasons we meet with couples.
4. To support a spouse with a mental health disorder
A spouse with a mental health disorder could also be another reason a couple seeks counseling. At times, the person with the mental health disorder may be in individual counseling, but often the couple needs support as well. Counseling can help identify ways each partner can work to fight the illness (and not each other), develop a deeper connection and bond, and create a meaningful life together.
People are often embarrassed or feel shame surrounding the issues that send them to counseling. What they don’t realize is how common it is to experience these issues and how courageous it is to be vulnerable and seek help. However difficult or daunting a problem, relief is often the result of talking out the problems with a professional clinician and your partner. When couples connect, they often feel supported by one another, find problems dissolving, solutions becoming clearer, and hopefully growing.