Okay, so you've hit a rough patch in your relationship and aren't sure how to get past it. (Or maybe you THINK you know, but your better half doesn't agree.) Should you try couples counseling?
No reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed. LOTS of couples do.
"The most common thing that motivates couples to seek counseling is fear that the marriage will not endure and last," explains Fran Walfish, PsyD, a relationship, parenting, and child psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California, as well as author of The Self-Aware Parent and costar on WEtv's Sex Box. "Something is not going right, and there's usually a communication breakdown."
Talking to an experienced therapist can set your ship right, so to speak.
But how, exactly? Let's break down some of the biggest benefits:
1. You'll hone your speaking and listening skills. That doesn't mean you're going to have to give a speech or take a comprehension test. But whether the issue is about raising your children, in-law probs, or who does most of the housework, "the bottom line is that people don't know how to talk to each other about difficult things," says Walfish. So goal #1 of couples counseling? Healthy communication skills.
2. You'll get to know yourself better. "It's key, going into a new relationship or marriage, that each individual knows themselves -- flaws and all -- and be willing to own up to their shortcomings," explains Walfish.
We all inadvertently have miscommunication or accidentally hurt our partner's feelings every now and then. But "most people are too quick to look outward and point a finger at the other," says Walfish. "It's always best to take that first painful look within and be accountable for your own mistakes, before judging and blaming the other person."
3.You'll finally figure out whose turn it is to fold the laundry. A common issue couples bring up during therapy? "Feeling unappreciated and that there is not an equal division of responsibilities in the home and relationship," notes Nicole Martinez, PsyD, a psychologist and licensed clinical professional counselor in Chicago.
A therapist can help you learn -- and get in the practice of acknowledging -- what you appreciate about each other, "as well as negotiate what each person feels is a fair and balanced division of responsibilities."
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4. You'll better understand your partner's issues. Just like you'll spill your guts in therapy (which feels a lot more rewarding than it sounds), so will your husband get a chance to talk about HIS issues. "You have the privileged opportunity to heighten your sensitivity to him and go gentle when treading delicate territory," explains Walfish.
5. You'll get on the same page about money. One of the biggest relationship killers? "Finances," says Martinez. Instead of pretending you haven't, say, run up all your credit cards, or screaming at your husband to stick to your budget already, therapy can help you and your husband figure out where your money issues come from. AND a happy medium to the probs you're currently facing.
6. Your sex life will get a boost. No surprise, sex is another prob many couples grapple with. "When it comes to varied sex drives, conversations and compromises can take place that restore intimacy and create a frequency both [husband and wife] are happy with," says Martinez. If cheating's the issue, a therapist can help you work through broken trust and establish if you're both still committed to making this marriage work.
7. Your relationship will get "unstuck." Having the same argument over and over and OVER isn't helpful. Therapy puts the kibosh on that maddening pattern.
"Once we've addressed an issue and agreed to a resolution, we're not able to keep dredging it back up," notes Martinez. "You've either agreed to keep moving forward or you have not."
About 50 percent of couples who go into therapy stay together -- which is about the same rate as divorce, says Martinez. But, she adds, "They have a slightly better chance of being on the side that does not."
Image via iStock.com/Wavebreak