Knowing when it is time to go to couples therapy is not always easy ; love relationships are always complex and offer many different interpretations of what happens. And this is even more difficult when we don’t see the situation from the outside, as someone who observes the behaviour of a marriage, but rather it is up to us to analyse our relationship with that other person. There are many emotions and feelings involved.

However, there are a number of criteria that help us to know which situations indicate that we have significant problems in this regard, and that as a result we should go to couples therapy.

During these sessions, patients learn to take a more neutral and objective perspective on what is going on in their relationship, so that even the ability to recognize love problems is improved. But how can you “learn to see” these warning signs if you’ve never been to couples therapy, in part because you don’t know there’s a reason to go to a first visit?

In this article we will see a summary of those keys to recognize dysfunctions in a couple’s love life , which we should work on with the help of a professional psychologist.

Problems that are reasons to attend couples therapy

This is a summary of the main criteria for when to go for couples therapy.

1. Jealousy is a recurrent phenomenon

Jealousy never brings anything good , because it encourages a controlling attitude towards the other person’s life, which we come to see as a personal resource, something to protect. Therefore, although for a long time jealousy has come to be seen as a positive trait, it should be taken seriously when it interferes with the happiness of one of the parties involved (or both).

2. There is a lack of communication

Sometimes, with the passage of time, the mixture between the monotony of everyday life and boredom with the lack of satisfying moments with a partner means that you hardly talk to each other, or that communication is very brief and functional (just enough to live together). This is a serious problem, because it makes the couple’s relationship to be lived as a burden , and on many occasions feelings of guilt also arise at the idea that the other person is being “abandoned”.

In addition, lack of communication makes it easier for misunderstandings to arise or for people to distrust each other when there is no time to talk honestly about how they feel.

3. Constant discussions arise about living together

No one said that living together was easy, especially for young couples. Knowing how to assign tasks in a fair and equitable manner is an ideal that many couples distance themselves from , for various reasons: lack of habit in dedicating themselves to household tasks, differences in the time available, different perceptions about what it costs to carry out certain tasks, presence of resentment for past discussions, etc.

4. There are different long-term objectives

Relationships are almost always long-term projects, and that means making sacrifices and committing to each other’s well-being and interests.

But this is something that some people encounter out of the blue , without expecting it at all, so they don’t have time to agree on solutions that satisfy both parties because they haven’t even been able to stop and think about what they want and how that fits the interests of their loved one.

5. There are insecurities and taboos in sex life

Sexual identity is too often a source of insecurity and erosion of self-esteem. But it is because you cannot find a way to express your own tastes and preferences as you feel them. Couples therapy helps a lot to establish a context in which to talk honestly about this and to reach acceptance and self-acceptance.

6. You are on the defensive in discussions

Discussing from time to time, but beyond the number of times you discuss, which is something difficult to evaluate objectively before going through therapy, there is a warning sign that can help you know if there is a problem in this regard: if right at the beginning of the discussion, you or your partner feel a sense of being defensive, of expecting an escalation of tension and reproach.

7. If there is a crisis of confidence due to infidelity

Keep in mind that infidelities are not simply about stalking someone you are not in a love relationship with while you are with someone in a love relationship.

Infidelities are transgressions of the most basic sex-affective commitments that shape the relationship, something that each couple establishes in their own way. In the vast majority of cases, an infidelity makes the relationship falter (at least). But beware, it only makes sense to go to couples therapy if you have already stopped being unfaithful, and the problem is strictly based on what happened in the past.

Bibliographic references:

  • Christensen A., Atkins D.C., Baucom B., Yi J. (2010). “Marital status and satisfaction five years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 78 (2): 225–235.
  • Sternberg, J. (1997). “Satisfaction in close relationships”, Guilford Press.