Often when a new couple comes in there's what we call the “Drag-er” and the “Drag-ee”, meaning there's one member of the couple who is more enthusiastic about couples therapy than the other. If you and your partner are considering couples’ counseling, or your partner has mentioned it, and you see it coming, you may be wondering what to expect from your sessions. While there’s likely at least one problem you’ll want to focus on in therapy (we call this the presenting problem in our business) your therapist also use this time to get to know your relationship. Doing so allows professionals to identify – and therefore address – any underlying issues which may be manifesting through recurring conflict. Here are a few common examples of couples’ therapy questions you and your partner may be asked.
What Problems Are You Experiencing?
You may find that you argue in circles over one common issue, such as an issue with in-laws or something that happened in the past. Sometimes, the solution can be as simple as having a nonbiased listener help both people see the issue from one another’s perspective. And sometimes it's not a problem with any “resolution” or solution-it's what we call a perpetual problem. These are problems in a marriage due to the simple fact that two people are different-and a healthy couple is able to talk openly about their differences, and take them into account, without arguing about it or trying to change the other person. While it may take some time to work acceptace of these perpetual problems, it’s possible with the skills you’ll develop during therapy.
Do You Both See a Future Together?
It’s a tough question, and you may not even know the answer right now. Yet, it’s one that's worth consideration. If one party is clearly ready for separation ( we call this “On the Brink) couples’ therapy can help them step back from the edge of the cliff, and start the work on what needs to change for the marriage to survive. Some don't-that's the fact. But many couples think they're splitting up, come to therapy to try to save the marriage, and if both people do the work, they can save it. It gets saved by hard work done by the couple-not the therapist. In many cases, simply being at a couples’ counseling session in the first place is an indication that both people have at least some desire to make things work.
Do You Trust One Another?
In some instances, trust may be broken due to a specific incident. In others, it may be harder to trace the origins of mistrust. Nowadays there are a lot of ways to trust to be broken using social media and texting. Lack of strong trust can erode a relationship, leading to problems like resentment and withdrawal. If trust has been broken in your partnership, your counselor will help to understand what lead to the mistrust, and help you develop healthy strategies for communicating about wants, needs, and expectations with one another.
Are You Satisfied with the Intimacy in Your Relationship?
Intimacy may seem like a distant dream when you’re sitting in a counseling session, but it’s an important topic to discuss. Relationship problems aren't only about arguing, but are often related to intimacy-one person wants more, one person doesn't participate, neither person knows what they want or need etc.
What Kind of Love Do You Feel Towards Each Other?
Feelings of romance and affection wax and wane in a long-term relationship, sometimes in the course of one day. While your relationship may have started out with a fair amount of passion, you may find yourselves falling into routines that don’t exactly light any sparks. If you feel as if you’re simply coexisting and not connecting as romantic partners, couples’ counseling offers ways to rekindle the spark.
Of course, you may come to couples’ therapy with your own set of questions – which is perfectly fine, and even encouraged. If you’re seeking a therapist who will encourage you and your partner to ask and answer the important questions, schedule a session with Chuck Beardsley LCSW of Mountainside Counseling in New Jersey. Book an appointment by calling (908) 274-3189, or through the office’s online portal.