How Soon is Too Soon for Couples’ Therapy?

Psychologist taking notes during couple counseling session

Technically there is no “too soon” for Couples’ Therapy. There are many cases when couples begin therapy as early as 6 months or sooner. In fact, millennials are opting for couples’ therapy much sooner than their counterparts a generation ago. The biggest factor in this new trend is a better understanding of what couples’ therapy is.

HELP YOUR RELATIONSHIP BEFORE IT NEEDS “SAVING”

There used to be the notion that couples’ therapy was an after-the-fact solution, like repairing or saving a relationship after an affair. Couples’ therapy is much more than that, it involves learning communication skills, coping styles, personal goals, problem solving, and values. Couples can experience many challenges at any stage in a relationship. Some of the most common problems include sex, finances, differences in how much free time should be spent together, differences in standards of cleanliness, jealousy, addictions, and family issues. Therapy can provide a safe and fair way for couples to navigate these issues. These are also tools that can last through the future of the relationship, too.

ARE UNHEALTHY CONFLICTS IN A RELATIONSHIP A RED FLAG?

Conflicts, and fighting early in a relationship, do not determine if you are a good match or not. It simply means that there is a challenge in problem solving, communicating, or some other dynamic. These are skills that can be developed and refined. Some of the biggest struggles in communication that tend to end relationships include personal criticism (rather criticizing individual acts/behaviors), contempt, defensiveness, reactivity, lack of relationship repair, and disconnection/stonewalling behavior.

The biggest red flags when it comes to conflict are signs of abusive behavior, which can be emotional, physical, sexual or financial. Common examples of emotional abuse include yelling, manipulation, name-calling, shaming, humiliation, constant criticism, threats (to you or themselves), ultimatums, discouraging social time with other people, discouraging personal empowerment (denying right to work, school…etc.), withholding affection, and invasion of privacy. Common physical abuses include hitting, spitting, choking, any bodily harm, threats, intimidating postures/gestures, physical restraint, or denying your right to leave a place. Common sexual abuses include unwanted touching/fondling, rape, forced uncomfortable sexual scenarios, forced painful sex, non-consensual sex, derogatory name-calling, and withholding sex as an ultimatum. If you think you are in an abusive relationship and feel unsafe or cannot get out, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you identify as a female, a great local resource here in Portland, OR is the Gateway Center.

CAN COUPLES’ THERAPY FIX ALL RELATIONSHIPS?

No. Couples therapy can do many things. It can clarify concerns, goals, and values. It helps couples learn healthier methods to interact more productively. It provides a safe and fair way for couples to be vulnerable and express themselves. It can also help you figure out how to solve your problems. Many times, these changes create healthy, growth-oriented relationships. But couples’ therapy cannot and should not fix all relationships. Sometimes people are healthier as friends, or not having a relationship at all. The goal of couples’ counseling is not necessarily to save a relationship, but to create a space for the people in a relationship to get to a healthier space and create a healthy values-based relationship as part of that interaction, whatever that looks like.

COUPLES THERAPY IS GOOD FOR HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS, TOO

The biggest trend in healthcare is prevention. And really—it is not that new of a concept. You brush your teeth to prevent cavities. You watch your cholesterol to prevent heart disease. So on and so on. Couples’ therapy can give your relationship the best foundation possible. You can have tools coming out of the gate and prevent miscommunication from the beginning.

DO I NEED INSURANCE TO SEE A THERAPIST?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing Portland LLC., we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or are in need of Couples’ Therapy,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.