Five benefits of couples counselling for unmarried couples
If you haven’t experienced couples counselling for yourself, it’s understandable that you might have some preconceived ideas about it. Perhaps you’ve seen it on TV or in films, or you have heard anecdotes from friends and family.
As a result of this type of exposure, we often find that there are a few misconceptions. One of the biggest is the belief that couples therapy is designed for married couples, or those who have been together for a long time.
But this isn’t necessarily the case – couples therapy is very powerful and can benefit relationships of all stages, including those in the very early days. Some may think that starting couples counselling early on is a bad omen, but we believe that this shows strength and a willingness to be open and grow together.
Whether you’ve recently become “Facebook official”, or you’re celebrating your silver wedding anniversary, there are lots of ways that therapy and couple workshops can benefit your relationship.
Here are four reasons to consider couples counselling when not married or early on.
1. Build your skills to work through differences
Couples experience differences – this is inevitable. You might disagree on whose family to spend Christmas with, argue about finances, or clash over your political views. But what’s important is how you respond to these situations. This is all under your control.
Relationship therapy or couple workshops will give you the tools to handle these situations in a healthy and productive way. When you come to any bumps in the road, you’ll be prepared to communicate effectively so that any differences can be understood, learned from and used as a source of growth.
2. Explore the influences of your childhood
Subconsciously, our childhood experiences have a tremendous influence over our relationships – both in terms of our choice in partner, our experience of them and behaviour towards them.
Working with a therapist will help you to learn and understand what these are, how they manifest themselves, and how they might affect your relationship. For example, perhaps you find yourself arguing with a partner about them not being there for you, but this could actually be rooted in the loneliness you experienced as a child.
Being mindful of these triggers will help you and your partner to respond in a mindful and rational way, avoid antagonising each other, and grow beyond your childhood adaptations. This, in turn, increases intimacy and connection.
3. Understand the stages of your relationship
All relationships go through a spectrum of stages. This is one of the fundamental teachings of couple therapy training.
Relationships start with the “honeymoon period”, where everything feels joyful and perfect, and progress through a variety of others, including the “power struggle” and hopefully leading to the “conscious relationship”.
In Imago therapy we have five stages of a conscious partnership. Many of these are related to creating and maintaining a sense of joyfulness and pleasure with each other. By being aware of this, you’ll learn how to recognise each stage and how best to approach them together. You’ll be able to identify certain feelings and emotions to stay strong, whatever comes your way.
4. Learn how to be there for each other
Couples therapy will teach you how to be there for each other, how to experience a deep connection and how to bring your best self to all circumstances.
The process encourages safe and open conversations that allow you to communicate what you want from your relationship and to listen fully and nonjudgmental to your partner. You’ll have the opportunity to learn what makes you both feel loved and appreciated and your relationship will bloom from there.
5. Create a relationship vision
Finally, the beginning of a relationship is a great starting point to discuss your relationship visions. It’s an opportunity to learn about each other’s values and belief systems, and to work together to create a healthy and happy relationship.
When couples have a clear vision for their relationship, with a thoughtful strategy to achieve it, it is more likely they will live by it. Working with an Imago relationship therapist will help you to develop a relationship that is in line with your values, intentions and vision.
Couples therapy is not the only option for you. We also lead couple workshops called Getting The Love You Want. Although it is not comparable to couples counselling, it is an intensive and transformational experience that can elevate any couple’s relationship.
Click here to find a therapist in your area if you’d like to explore this journey and here to find out about the next couples workshop.