When many people think of couples counseling, they don’t think of young or unmarried couples who are dating. Unfortunately, many believe that counseling for couples is a last-ditch effort to save a marriage or something reserved only for couples experiencing some extreme trouble.
Couples counseling is not reserved for one specific type of relationship or those in dire needs.
Relationships experience bumps no matter what type of committed relationship you are involved in. Still, some people feel that it’s somehow not appropriate to go for counseling as a couple if they’re not married or engaged.
Even if you’re “just dating,” there’s no reason to put off couples therapy. In fact, seeing a professional therapist earlier on can help ensure the relationship’s long-term success.
Relationships are changing
Today, committed relationships take many forms. It’s normal for relationships to diverge from the traditional path of courting, getting engaged, getting married, and then moving in together.
Couples today move at their own pace, doing what feels right for them. This could mean years of dating and living together, never getting married, or forgoing having children. Or maybe the couple never moves in together, but has stayed committed for years.
Because each relationship develops along its own path, issues could arise at any stage of the relationship. Stressors and difficult decisions can pop up suddenly or develop slowly over many years. So, while we might not advise you to sign up for couples counseling after your first date, there’s really no time that’s too soon to start relationship counseling.
Though you might hit different milestones at different times, your relationship will face many similar milestones as it changes, grows, and matures. Starting your couples counseling early on in your relationship can help you manage and navigate relationship challenges as they arise.
Getting through big decisions and plans for the future
As the relationship progresses, it’s only natural for thoughts and conversations to begin about what lies ahead. Will you move in together? Should you marry? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
These questions seem minor or even exciting in the early glow of a fresh relationship. Of course, your future together will be smooth and happy. However, as the relationship progresses, these decisions can cause friction and hurt feelings when they are not handled openly in a way that makes sure both parties are heard.
Seeking couples counseling earlier in the relationship equips you with the tools necessary to face significant life decisions. Instead of avoiding difficult conversations about children, careers, etc., you can meet them early before they become major stumbling blocks.
Breaking through old patterns
If you are the children of divorced parents, statistics show you may be more likely to divorce. This unfortunate statistic shows we often repeat the patterns we’ve experienced previously in our lives.
For many, the patterns they saw growing up are the only examples they have learned for lessons on relating with another person. Left unchecked, many will repeat these behaviors since they assume the actions are standard.
Even if you’re aware of the fact that you don’t want to repeat the relationship you observed growing up, you still may not know how to break the patterns or what a healthy relationship looks like.
Starting couples counseling early in the relationship allows you to face these patterns head-on. Then, you are free to learn new ways to listen, communicate, and manage a loving and healthy relationship with your partner.
Identifying future friction points
Things are awash in a new glow in your relationship’s early days. Every issue seems small or easily managed. Many attempt to prolong these times by dismissing or avoiding conflicts that surface.
Some of these issues are indeed minor. However, others could become something significant if left unchecked. Often, we’re not great at identifying which is which on our own. For example, an issue like someone wanting to watch more TV than the other might not ever become an issue for one couple and could be insurmountable for another.
Starting your couples counseling early helps you identify, raise, and address these potential issues in a safe place. That way, you’ve learned how to handle and address the issue before it’s too late or has snowballed into something more significant.
Should you start couples counseling?
There’s no established timeline of when it’s best to start counseling for your relationship. If you’re experiencing difficulties communicating or facing issues you can’t seem to resolve on your own, couples therapy can help. Learning to handle disagreements correctly can actually help bring you together, rather than ripping you apart.
But, you don’t have to wait for things to reach that level.
If you feel that you’d like to stay with this person for longer, isn’t it worth investing in a foundation for your relationship? Your early counseling sessions can serve more like a tune-up to get you ready for a healthy future together.
If you’re ready to start couples counseling or have questions about our approach, take the first step and reach out to us. We’re here to help you get the relationship support you’re looking for and deserve.