If you are wondering whether you are alone in having difficulties in your marriage or relationship, look no further than a quick open-ended Google search: “does every relationship…”. You will probably see a list of commonly searched questions that looks something like this:
Does every relationship…
- have problems?
- have issues?
- have arguments?
- get boring?
- need space?
- need a break?
- have red flags?
- have cheating?
Not every relationship has cheating or needs an official break, but the truthful answer to the rest of these questions is, at some point or another, “yes.” Hopefully, the fact that these are some of the most commonly asked questions about relationships validate how normal it is to encounter struggles with your partner.
The question really isn’t if you will encounter relationship difficulties, but when and once they emerge, how you will address them.
While that might feel validating, it may also feel defeating if you don’t feel like you have an idea of what to do about your relationship concerns.
Everyone could benefit from couples therapy or marriage counseling at some point. Your relationship with your significant other is just that – significant – meaning it can provide significant joy, significant hardship, and most importantly, it requires significant effort. Every couple experiences some level of disagreement, disconnection, or disappointment at one time or another. While the problems in your relationship may be very normal or even inevitable, they don’t have to be permanent or unresolvable.
Unfortunately, there are many unrealistic assumptions and expectations about marriage and long-term committed relationships, so let’s debunk a few of the most common myths.
Five Relationship Myths
1. If I choose the right partner, we shouldn’t need professional help navigating our issues
This is just not true. When it comes to buying an automobile, this logic fails immediately: even if I buy a brand new car that I LOVE, that car will, at some point, need more fuel, an oil change, probably some new brake pads somewhere down the line, and continued maintenance in order to keep it running smoothly. Relationships are the same way, especially romantic relationships. Couples counseling is a great venue for “fueling up” and being deliberate about maintenance so that your relationship runs smoother, longer, and meets your expectations.
2. Happy couples don’t fight.
The happiest couples aren’t couples who don’t fight – the happiest couples just know how to fight. Conflict is inevitable. Effective conflict requires both partners to know how to self-soothe, listen with curiosity and compassion, inquire with care, convey respect, and self-reflect. Couples therapy can help you identify what aspects of your conflict are effective and what you and your partner may need to change about how you cope under stress in order for your love and connection to override the stress of conflict.
3. No matter how happy we are now or used to be, we are destined to lose the spark – that’s just how relationships go.
In our culture, there is a pervasive belief that the spark of any romantic relationship inevitably dies. This myth leaves many couples feeling hopeless about their future together when the going gets tough. The spark fading is not inevitable, but it can feel that way without the proper skills and knowledge to prevent things from taking a turn for the worse.
It’s true that our fast-paced, busy lives do make it difficult to maintain a fulfilling connection with our partners, especially because our romantic relationships require a lot of consistent effort. Our relationship experts understand this, and couples counseling is a great venue to gain insights and tools to promote connection with your partner and consistently practice good relationship maintenance. This is what can prevent the loss of connection and help you reconnect if you feel the spark has already dwindled.
4. Relationships are either good or they’re hard.
If it’s not hard sometimes, it’s probably not good. The best things in life are those worth fighting for. However, a professional can help you determine if your relationship is harder than it “should” be.
5. We are both happy in our relationship, we wouldn’t benefit from couples counseling.
Back to the car metaphor – even if your car isn’t broken down on the side of the road smoking from an overheated engine, it’s probably still worth taking it to the shop if the check-engine light comes on. If you are wondering when to start marriage counseling or whether now is the time for you and your partner to seek professional help, consider scheduling a free consultation with one of our relationship experts to help you identify any “check-engine lights” in your relationship that could indicate that now may be a good time for a tune up.
Every human is constantly being faced with challenges that can lead to personal growth or stagnation. Because life is so messy and full of constant changes, you and your partner are also changing as time passes. These changes can expose new challenges that can either become sources of contention that drive a wedge between you and your lifemate or opportunities for you to grow individually and as a couple. A professional couples therapist can help you and your partner examine the issues that feel threatening to your connection and approach them in new and more effective ways. If you are curious about what couples therapy specifically entails or are wondering “will marriage counseling help me?”, please check out our Couples Counseling Services page.
Couples Therapy for All Relationships
Now that we’ve debunked some myths about relationships, try and replace the questions “Do we need relationship counseling?” or “Will marriage counseling save my marriage?” with “What would it be like if we felt more connection, closeness, and joy in our relationship?” and “Am I willing to ask for help with that?”, and see what comes up for you and your partner. If you’re at the point where you’ve decided that your relationship could benefit from some help, the next step is the hardest – actually asking for that help. We’re here to assist whenever you’re ready.