7 Signs You Need Couples Therapy

Being able to recognise when to reach out to a couples therapist is very important. Research shows that it takes six years for a couple to be in distress before they reach out to a therapist. This means, that on many occasions, it’s too late to truly make a difference to the couples lives.

Instead the sooner you address your relationship problems, the easier it is to prevent the situation getting more difficult and more painful, the more likely you are to avoid the relationship ending. Checking in with a couples therapist sooner can also make the work more effective and quicker.

The reality is that the overwhelming experience of being in a couples relationship should be a positive one. It’s unfortunate that there is a consensus amongst many that relationships are hard. This shouldn’t be the case. Being with a partner should feel good and should help you as an individual thrive too.

So here are the signs that the relationship needs more help:

1. You’re having painful and frequent arguments

If you find that you’re having daily or weekly arguments. Or that the arguments you’re having always feel intense and hurtful the you should seek help. Conflict is part of every relationship. However conflict shouldn’t be destructive. It should be an opportunity to understand each other and learn what you need. Couples therapy will help you learn to navigate conflict more effectively, get better at listening to each other and build trust and confidence in your ability to navigate challenging conversations.

2. You’re finding it hard to express your thoughts, feelings and needs

Being able to express how you’re feeling and what you’re needing is paramount to a good relationship. Not being able to do so builds resentment and erodes trust. A good couples therapist will help you learn to express your needs in positive ways so that your understanding, compassion and connection improve.

3. You’re preferring to spend time away from your partner

This is usually as a result of active or passive conflict. We find ourselves withdrawing from our partner because we find it so hard to talk and resolve conflict. Ot perhaps we don’t feel understood. Emotionally withdrawing from your patenter can damage the relationship, eroding connection and trust. It is also a slipper slope for betrayal. Couples therapy will help you understand each others needs, break down emotional barriers, help you build trust in your partners ability to understand you and your confidence in each other. This will help you rebuild intimacy and cultivate empathy and friendship.

4. You struggle to trust your partner

Over the years together, small attachment injuries occur. It’s inevitable. But through these we create scars – if we don’t repair them. This erodes trust. Some of the attachment injuries could be large – like a betrayal – or some could be relatively small – like dismissing feelings. However, over time they become more painful and we start to question our partners integrity and confidence in their ability to look after our feelings and our needs.

Therapy will help you work on repairing the injuries, seeking validation and understanding from each other with the goals of deepening compassion and empathy and greater understanding of each others needs.

5. You’re struggling with physical intimacy

Often this is the final straw that brings partners to therapy. Intimacy is an integral part of any partnership. Lack of intimacy can lead to anger and frustration and a deep sense of loneliness and rejection. However, lack of intimacy is symptomatic of deeper issues in the relationship around connection and friendship. Seeking help from a couples therapist will help you understand what are the barrier to intimacy and work on building understanding and connection.

6. You have unresolved past issues

Some of the attachment injuries can be significant and are stopping you from moving forward. You find yourself having the same argument again and again and this can lead you to start avoiding your partner. This is a slippery slope as it will erode your friendship and partnership.

Through couples therapy, you can learn to address and heal the hurt from these issues. You can learn to deepen each others understanding of the challenge and seek a path forward which takes into account and validates both perspectives.

7. You’re having financial/parenting conflicts

Although these are always challenging topics, over time they can arose trust, communication and overall satisfaction in the relationship. They can also have impacts on the children’s wellbeing.

These are the most common topics covered by couples therapist and through the work you can uncover your hopes and dreams that lie underneath the conflict. There needs to be an open, safe and trusting conversation about the values, beliefs and hopes surrounding finances and parenting such that both partners feels seen and understood. Only then can a solution be navigated together without fear of dismissing or resentment.

So here are the top seven indicators that couples therapy could be helpful. Seeking support early will lead to greater couples satisfaction and connection. Ultimately being in a relationship should be adding to your overall wellbeing.

Written & Reviewed by Dr.Emma Waddington, Senior Clinical Psychologist & Founder of Us Therapy, in 2024