Every relationship has an ebb and flow to it: moments of giddy excitement and closeness to treasure, and then periods when you feel distant or frustrated with each other. When the rough patches hit, it’s tempting to wait them out and assume they’ll pass without making a long-term dent in your relationship.
Therapists, though, advise against that strategy. “The best time to seek out couples counseling may be when you’re feeling happy in your relationship,” says Gail Saltz, MD, psychiatrist and the author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius. Wait too long to seek help after challenges crop up, and bad habits might cement in place, along with resentment and anger. “That’s a very toxic place that’s difficult to undo,” says Dr. Saltz.
“It’s easier to work with couples who decide to intervene before the damage is really great,” agrees Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a NYC-based couples and family therapist. With a therapist’s help, you can break negative cycles, discover what’s causing conflicts and distance, and restore a connection that may feel frayed. “Perhaps most importantly, it helps [couples] identify and remember the strengths of the relationship,” says Ross.
How can you know if your problems amount to a few rough weeks or months—or are big enough to break you up? All relationships are unique, but experts say it generally boils down to certain issues. Here are six signs you might want to consider couples counseling.
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