Every industry has its frequently asked questions (FAQs). In the field of psychotherapy, a common FAQ is how long a couple should wait before going to therapy. Unfortunately, far too many couples get started quite late in the process. If they had sought out couples therapy earlier, improving their relationships could have been a bit easier.
If nothing else, we want you to know that it is never too early in a relationship to start actively working on making it better. Whether that means going to couple’s therapy with a trained psychotherapist, seeking the advice of older couples who have been there before, or even sitting down and talking with a religious counselor, working on a relationship before problems arise is very similar to preventative medicine.
The goal of couple’s therapy for couples who are not having problems is to identify possible pitfalls down the road. It is to help them see where their relationships are headed so that they can avoid trouble before it happens. It’s no different than driving down the road and continually scanning the horizon for hazards. The earlier those hazards are identified, the easier they are to avoid.
A Glass Half-Full Scenario
You are probably familiar with the old idiom that talks about seeing a glass half-empty as opposed to half-full. The amount of water in the glass doesn’t change. What’s different is your perspective. We see couples therapy in much the same way.
When a couple asks, “how long should we wait before going to therapy?”, they are looking at it from the perspective of pushing their relationship right to the edge before doing something to actively improve it. We promote the opposite view. Rather than, “How far can we go before there’s trouble?”, we think a better approach is, “How far can we move away from the trouble so that we never reach it?”
Couples’ Therapy When You’re Not Fighting
Explaining this to couples inevitably leads to the question of what couple’s therapy offers when they aren’t fighting. That is a very good question. It also has a particularly good answer. Couples therapy for two people who already have a strong relationship can still be very beneficial. Here is what it can do:
- Learning – None of us knows it all. None of us will ever know it all. Couples therapy is an opportunity for couples to learn more about each other and themselves, as individuals. With increased knowledge comes a better understanding of how to relate to one another.
- Communication – Couples therapy seeks to help teach couples how to communicate more effectively. No matter how strong your relationship is, you can never go wrong with better communication.
- Goals – Couples therapy can help a couple establish and pursue goals. And where goals differ, it can help couples support one another and/or find compromise goals they can both work on together.
- Expectations – Couples can find themselves developing unreasonable and unhealthy expectations of their relationships. Couples therapy brings perspective. It can help temper those expectations so that couples do not expect too much of one another.
How long should you wait before you and your partner seek out therapy? There is no black-and-white answer to that question. What we would say is that therapy is appropriate for couples in every stage of a relationship. It’s not just for couples in trouble.
If you would like to know more about couple’s therapy at our Westchester County clinic, feel free to reach out. We offer couples therapy, marriage counseling, adolescent therapy, and even counseling for individuals. We are always here to help with a listening ear and sound advice.