Couples therapy is also known as marriage counseling, couples counseling, or marital therapy. It’s a specific type of family therapy that can be beneficial in exploring the root causes of conflict between two people. This type of relationship therapy also focuses on improving communication skills so a romantic relationship can heal and grow. When two people are invested in it, there can be many benefits of marriage counseling or couples therapy. It can be instrumental in creating a partnership that’s built on mutual respect, consideration, and trust.
Going to in-person or online couples therapy might be the best thing you ever do for your romantic relationship. Especially given that the estimated divorce rate by the CDC in the US is 2.9 per 1000 persons in 2021.
What are the benefits of couples therapy?
The benefits of relationship counseling will depend on the couple seeking help. The more you and your romantic partner are willing to put into your relationship, the better the outcome will likely be.
If you’re hoping to change or improve your relationship satisfaction, seeing a couples therapist can be the first step.
Here are 11 major benefits of couples therapy:
1. Gain a deeper understanding of your relationship dynamic
A major benefit of couples counseling is that you can begin to really understand your relationship dynamics. Who has the power? Is it balanced? Do you fall into specific (negative) communication patterns? Do you have a couple of common points of strife that you often disagree about? How do you handle conflict?
Looking at the answers to these questions and beginning to understand patterns in your relationship — both in good times and in difficult ones — can be very important in helping heal your relationship and growing a stronger bond.
2. Get an impartial sounding board
Finding a good couples therapist means having someone you both trust. Your therapist can listen to what you’re both saying and then give honest, impartial, unbiased feedback. Sometimes hearing someone else tell us what they’re hearing allows us to look at our relationship through a new lens. That neutral party can listen to both sides and give you constructive feedback about what they’re hearing. This might just make all the difference.
If you have questions about decisions you need to make, or if you’re thinking about charting a new course in your relationship, you might want to talk to a couples therapist. They can help you navigate potential long-term outcomes that may result from your decisions. They can show you how likely your actions might align with your goal of relationship preservation.
“The most important benefit of couple’s therapy is the outsider lens. It is a chance to show up in our natural form, presenting our side in the way that we normally would, but get a professional’s take on where we head next. For a lot of couples, it might feel like we are spinning our wheels, stuck in the same spot, but the professional twist can merge the two sides while also allowing each partner to have a voice.” Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC
3. Create a safe space for you and your partner
Often when we’re dealing with conflict with our romantic partner, feeling safe is something both sides struggle with. To truly navigate conflict, you must be willing to be vulnerable, open up, and be honest. That can be scary.
Couples therapy creates a safe space where boundaries are set and enforced, and a neutral third party oversees the process and can intervene when necessary. This means both of you can learn to really open up and communicate effectively, while still feeling that you’re safe.
4. Begin to see each other’s perspectives
Couples therapy often allows two people to really begin to see each other’s perspectives. It’s common — and normal — to see a relationship through just our own lens. It’s our feelings that matter, and it can be hard to understand or accept our partner’s point of view. This has little to do with being selfish. Rather, it’s natural to have a deeper understanding of our own perspective.
If a therapist can help you objectively look at both sides of a disagreement, you can try to avoid miscommunication and instead begin to really understand the root of a problem, both now and in the future.
5. Begin to resolve relationship roadblocks
It’s common for relationships to go through times where both parties are struggling to deal with a specific topic. Maybe it’s deciding whether to have kids. Perhaps it’s figuring out if you should make a major move. It might be about buying a house. If you feel like you and your partner are arguing about a specific topic that you can’t find resolution on, therapy might be able to help.
While major decisions can become huge roadblocks that prevent a relationship from moving forward, it’s not always about those huge life-changing things. Arguing over laundry, or the dishes, or parental responsibilities, can all be just as taxing on a relationship and lead to an impasse that feels impossible to surmount.
Couples therapy can help you discover the real issue that’s creating these roadblocks, address them, and figure out how (or if) you can resolve them.
6. Learn strategic and effective coping skills
No relationship is perfect, and there will be difficult times you need to learn to navigate. Having the right coping skills in place can help you and your partner get through these challenging times. By learning coping mechanisms and couples therapy techniques that help you deal with stress, anger, sadness, or any other emotion that’s interfering in your relationship, you’re setting up a path for the future.
Effective coping skills can help with immediate relationship problems, but they also serve as a roadmap for dealing with the next difficult time in your marriage or relationship.
7. Clarify your feelings about the relationship
Sometimes couples come to therapy to just get a basic understanding of what they really want out of the relationship. You may begin therapy believing that you’ll do whatever it takes to heal the relationship and stay together. You might also come to therapy wondering if your relationship is salvageable. Either way, therapy can help you explore, understand, and clarify your feelings.
A therapist can help you and your partner decide what you want moving forward, and then give you strategic ways to reach those relationship goals. Whether this means parting ways or figuring out what it’ll take to make the relationship work, a huge benefit of couples counseling can be clarifying your feelings.
8. Restore trust
Often people seek counseling because trust has been lost in a relationship. Trust issues can stem from infidelity, lack of honesty, financial struggles, or a multitude of other reasons.
Therapy is a good place to express that there’s a lack of trust, explore how it was broken, work on forgiveness (or retribution if necessary), and then create a space for new boundaries to be set so healing can begin. Building back trust can be difficult, but it’s far from impossible. With the right tools, you can really begin to form a solid foundation to rebuild your relationship.
9. Deepen your intimacy and connection with your partner
One of the biggest benefits of marriage counseling can be the effect it can have on intimacy and a connection with your partner. Intimacy is a common problem for many relationships, especially when you’ve been together for a long time and it feels like that spark has dimmed.
Therapy can help you get back that connection you both crave and miss. Focusing on each other’s wants, needs, and desires is important, but there’s more to it than just the physical side of a relationship. Working on communication and respect in therapy can allow the intimacy aspect to follow, often naturally. When we feel loved and understood, we’re more in tune with each other and feel more connected.
10. Improve communication skills
Couples therapy can help improve communication skills so you can better communicate with your partner more effectively and productively. Your therapist may have you practice a number of communication exercises for couples with your partner. One of the best benefits of focusing on how to communicate is that it’s something that can translate to other areas of your life besides just your immediate relationship.
Knowing how to communicate well can help you professionally, with friends, and even in places where you face conflict. In truth, virtually everybody could benefit from improving their communication skills.
11. Work on your own self-awareness and personal growth
A perhaps surprising, but very natural result of couples therapy is often individual, personal growth, and increased self-awareness. The goal of therapy is to have a deeper understanding of your own needs and the needs of your partner. By exploring the areas in your life that aren’t completely fulfilling, you can learn a lot about yourself.
You may find that you’re better able to set firm boundaries — not just in your relationship, but even in your professional life or with friends. You also might discover that your conflict resolution skills have sharpened, so you’re not dealing with drama as much. Maybe you’re working on how to not be as reactionary in your relationship, and you see this filtering into other parts of your life as well.
At the end of the day, you might see couples counseling transforming multiple areas of your life.
Is Couples Therapy Effective?
Couples therapy can be very effective. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that marriage counseling that uses Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) is effective and helpful for about 75% of couples. Additionally, meta-analysis shows that close to 90% see significant improvement after going through EFT. Overall, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), used to measure therapy success rates across decades, shows positive outcomes for couples who receive counseling, in some cases for at least 2 years after concluding therapy.
The American Association of Marriage and Family conducted research that shows over 97% of surveyed couples feel they got the help they needed through couples therapy. And an incredible 93% of couples said the work they did in therapy gave them strategic tools to better-handle conflict in their relationship.
“Couples often come to counseling when they have had enough, so they have reached a spot where the relationship will most likely end if they don’t seek treatment. So couples counseling is complex, taking time to peel back the onion layers. With couples who show-up willing and ready to make some changes, the effectiveness seems immediate. With couples that are a little more hesitant about the process, we might see less immediate effectiveness, but gradual effectiveness can be just as productive and still in alignment with getting to the best version of our relationship.” Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC
Couples therapy can be incredibly important if you’re looking for ways to strengthen or repair your relationship. You’ll get the tools you need to effectively communicate and build a strong, mutually rewarding partnership. If you want to start improving your relationship with your partner, connect with a licensed couples therapist today.
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