Relationship counseling, couples counseling, and couples therapy are thought of by most people as something you consider once things have gotten so bad, you're on the verge of breaking up. And sure, these services can be used in times of relationship crisis. But therapists will tell you this isn't always the best way to go about things. More and more couples are seeing counselors before anything major happens, and some are seeing it as more of a relationship health check. Here, women who've been to marriage counseling and couples therapy explain how it changed their lives.
"We didn't have any glaring problems but it was great"
"We did counseling right after we got engaged, and it was great. We didn't have any glaring problems, and I think people don't think they need it until the problem has gotten way out of hand?—and in a lot of cases, that's too late. But for us, we sharpened the tools in our toolbox, and for some of the things that caused annoyance or strife in our relationship, it was great to talk it out with a neutral party." [via]
"It helped with my boyfriend's commitment issues"
"Recently went through couples counseling with my long-term boyfriend who suddenly was having commitment issues. To be honest, it was a bit of an ultimatum. We were either breaking up (which he didn't want to do) or we were going to counseling (which he willingly agreed to). TBH, I felt like the whole process was more for him than me because he was the one with commitment/communication issues. But really anything that ultimately gave clarity to the situation?—that was for us.
And since the process definitely helped clarify his worries/anxieties, I felt it was very beneficial. I will caution that couples counseling is limited in its helpfulness if the issues have nothing to do with the couple. If the problem really lies with you or your partner as individuals, consider seeing a therapist on your own as well. That's ultimately the path my boyfriend is taking. At the very least, the counseling gave me a lot of insight into his fears, as well as revealing to us both that there was nothing in this world I could do to ameliorate them. That's a battle he has to face himself and he's still working on them." [via]
"We saw a therapist for my boyfriend's porn addiction"
"My boyfriend had a porn problem a year or two ago. It was pretty grim, he was spending a lot of money and choosing it over sex. I actually had no idea it was going on at all until I saw an email notification about how much money he'd been spending on watching camgirls. He'd never done anything like that before, so I was really blindsided. I was so upset and considered breaking up with him, but I told him if he wanted me to ever trust him again, the first step was couples therapy. It ended up being more just sex therapy and mostly him alone because we both agreed it was a him-problem, not really an us-problem.
It went really well. I was there for the beginning and the end, but the middle was just him. From what I understand, they broke down the issues that had led him to the porn habit (family dynamics, watching porn since literal childhood, job stress leading to tiredness leading to not really having the energy for proper sex but still wanting that release). As far as I know, he hasn't watched porn since. While I was furious and miserable and felt betrayed for a long time (and still do if I think about it too long), I did, even when it was still very raw, have a grudging respect for how he handled it. He put his hands up and took ownership of everything and then, more importantly, worked on the issues." [via]
"It saved our dying relationship"
"Marriage counseling not only saved our dying relationship, it gave us the tools and knowledge to keep it going. We have the best relationship we've ever had now, we needed someone to teach us how to speak each other's language. Know that counseling alone isn't enough to sustain you through the next rough patch you have, you have to both be willing to see and accept your shortcomings and work hard to over come them together." [via]
"It taught me a lot about myself"
"While marriage counseling didn't work in the traditional way for my ex and I (hence he is an ex) I learned a lot about myself and how I needed to work on some unhealthy coping mechanisms that I brought into the relationships. I learned effective ways of communicating and boundaries are a good thing." [via]
"My relationship is completely different now"
"The key is finding a GOOD therapist. My experience has been great and eye-opening and I'm in a completely different relationship now, thanks to therapy. But also because we chose a good therapist. We tried one out before switching. She did a lot of conflict resolution and listening stuff but didn’t go any deeper into actual relationship problems and deeper-seated issues." [via]
"It saved us after my husband cheated"
"My husband and I went through couples counseling after there was infidelity, and frankly, it was the best move we could have ever made. Being able to have a neutral space with a neutral person to talk through stuff allowed us both to feel comfortable in saying what really needed to be said. We learned a lot about ourselves as individuals, and a lot about ourselves as a couple. The main takeaway from it all was the handful of new tools we learned, the biggest one was how to better communicate. Needless to say, it has been over a year and things are better then ever. I cannot recommend going to a counselor enough, as long as both are willing to be open and put the work forth it can be a useful tool to combat a lot of issues." [via]
"There wasn't anything 'wrong' in our marriage"
"I don't have an awesome story or anything, but my husband was going to counseling, and I just happened to know the counselor through my work, so I just tagged along one day. There wasn't really anything necessarily 'wrong' in our marriage, we just figured that we might as well go and help our relationship to continue to be strong. It was nice. He asked questions that made me think about things I do in our marriage and why I do them, as well as where we both need to grow. It helped us feel closer." [via]
"Therapy is the only reason we didn't break up"
"My husband and I have been in couples therapy for a little over a year. It is without a doubt the only reason we didn't end up breaking up. We'd separated due to my husband's drinking problem. I was very reluctant to go, but he asked and I agreed to try it, and we never stopped going. We have been back together since the winter, and our relationship is finally back on track. My husband is just over one year sober, and I've been able to work through my anger and resentment for what he put me through. I can't recommend counseling/therapy enough for couples working through something difficult." [via]
"I'm finally able to express my emotions"
"Going to therapy with my partner was probably one of the greatest decisions I ever made. Not only did it aid in us communicating with one another better, but it allowed me to take a serious look at the ways in which I process emotion. I feel like I'm finally able to express my perspectives, experiences, and thought processes clearly. It's helped me in more ways than I can count! I would absolutely go back to therapy with my partner if either of us ever feel it's needed again, and I'd recommend it to anyone struggling!" [via]
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.