People in all types of committed relationships experience road bumps, so counseling for couples isn’t reserved for just one type of partnership. Still, you may be wondering whether it’s appropriate to go for counseling if you’re not married or engaged. The fact is that there’s no reason to hold off on therapy if you’re “just” dating – and in fact, seeing a professional sooner rather than later could be the defining factor that actually leads to relationship success. Here’s why.
How Soon Is Too Soon?
Committed relationships take on many forms nowadays. Gone are the times when the majority of partnerships would follow the same progression of dating, getting engaged, getting married, and moving in together. Nowadays, couples move at the pace that feels right for them – whatever order those events fall in. And, many couples are forgoing traditional steps like marriage and having children altogether. Societal norms haven’t just shifted – there are so many different ways to grow together as a couple that there is no wrong way to be a couple.
What does this mean in terms of couples’ counseling? For starters, a couple that’s a few months into a relationship could be every bit as “serious” as the one that’s been married 20 years. As such, issues can arise at any stage of a relationship. In fact, they may be more likely to pop up when you’re first starting out. This is especially true if you've returned to dating after a divorce or death of a spouse. New relationships after a long term relationship has ended can be just as difficult as the last one.
For example, you may find yourselves wanting to commit to for the long-term, but struggling with differences in family values. Or, maybe you’re both coming into the relationship with some trust issues from previous experiences. Addressing these issues now, instead of months or even years down the road, could set you up for a fulfilling, loving, and understanding union. Research shows younger generations are catching on to the benefits, too: millennials are going for couples’ therapy more than previous generations did, with the majority saying that it has been “helpful” or “very helpful.”
Thus, while you probably won’t want to sign up for counseling directly after meeting someone, there’s really no time that’s “too soon” for couples’ counseling.
The Two Questions That Matter
As you can see, the timeline of when you go for couples’ counseling shouldn’t matter much. The question may therefore remain, however: If timing isn’t the most important factor, when will we know it’s time to go?
Ultimately, there are two questions you can ask yourself to answer this:
- Are you experiencing unresolved differences that you can’t seem to work out on your own?
- Do you both want to stay together?
If the answer is “yes” to both, then couples’ counseling is the right place for you – regardless of how long you’ve been together.
Whether you’ve been married for years or you can count the months you’ve been together, on one hand, Chuck Beardsley LCSW is here to help you through any relationship issues you may be experiencing. To schedule an appointment at his Mountain Lakes, NJ office, call (908) 274-3189, or visit the office’s online portal.