Research shows that couples often wait six years to enter therapy*. Marriage therapy is viewed as a last ditch effort in a failing system. Most often distress begins after the couple first becomes parents*. Each shift in the family demands the relationship to change. What worked at the beginning needs to be reworked to meet present needs.
Why is it though that couples wait until it’s almost too late to enter therapy? The stigma surrounding mental health is certainly a factor in the decision making process. “If we enter couple’s therapy, does that mean we are failing? That we aren’t meant to be? What will our friends, family, and neighbors say about this?” The fear of judgment from others stops couples from entering a therapy office. These negative influencers also halt opportunity for better connection, resolution, and growth towards a healthier and more balanced relationship. In honoring Mental Health Awareness month this May, we are celebrating freedom from ill-biased judgments, and focusing rather on our own needs.
Consider then viewing therapy as an investment in your relationship, rather than a last resort. The average cost of a wedding is well over 10K, conservatively. A new car will set you back 20K conservatively. Cars require maintenance, frequent oil changes, tune ups, new tires… You get the drift. Why then will we spend time and money to maintain a car, and not do the same for our relationships?
Connecting with a couples therapist early and often in your relationship, solidifies that it is a top priority. In a modern world, where we are constantly on the go, the therapeutic space allows couples to experience conflict, collaborate to find resolution and build skills like; emotional regulation (the “calm down”), effective communication, and joint problem solving. These are all skills that can be modeled for children, providing continuous growth. Meanwhile, your brand new car will only depreciate in value.
If you and your partner have not yet sat on a therapist’s couch together you may want to ask each other some questions:
- Are other’s people judgments more important than our relationship?
- Are we taking better care of our car/house/belongings than our relationship?
- Have you ever walked away from me feeling unheard?
- Do you wish you could share more with me but are concerned about conflict?
- How often do we spend real quality time with one another?
If you are looking for a safe place to explore these questions with one another, email me today at Rebecca@CenterforFamilyEmpowerment.com to schedule a complimentary 20-minute relationship check-in.
*Research conducted by John and Julie Gottman of The Gottman Institute in Seattle, WA
Recommended Reading for Couples
- The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work.,Drs. John and Julie Gottman
- Hold Me Tight., Dr. Sue Johnson
- 5 Love Languages., Gary Chapman