You have been with your significant other for a few years, and it’s the partnership you’ve always wanted. Yet, you feel like there are a few certain areas that you find yourself struggling with. A fight you always have, pain that you haven’t really processed. You think you could use help, but you aren’t sure about couples therapy for young couples- is it depressing to need therapy this soon?
Consider if you shifted this perspective. Instead of looking at the start of therapy as depressing, consider how fortunate you are to be living in a time where there are couples therapists all over the country that are trained to help people with exactly what you’re struggling with.
A lot of the reaction or resistance you might feel is just due to judgements and perceptions you’ve picked up throughout your life and from society. They don’t actually mean anything.
Starting couples therapy early is not depressing- not addressing your issues, communications breakdowns, and hurts is depressing.
The reality is, not addressing them means that they both continue to live on in both of you, no matter how hard you try to ignore them.
Therapy is exciting, rejuvenating, and hopeful. It will give you a nonjudgemental space to breakdown what’s been going on from both perspectives. And there is no better time to start then now. In this post, I’m going to walk through all the reasons you should start couples therapy when you are young.
Couples Therapy for Young Couples- Why You Should Start Before It’s Too Late
Break Unhelpful Patterns Early
While you might think it makes sense to wait until things are really bad before you start therapy, think about this:
Imagine you are experiencing some ankle pain. You don’t really think much of it, and you figure that you shouldn’t be suffering ankle pain at this age. So you keep going- walking, running, dancing on your ankle. But the more you do, the more it hurts. When you finally go to the doctor, you learn you had a fracture from the start, only now, it’s much worse and will require you to be totally immobile for a period of time.
Relationships are the same way! Ignoring the pains does not heal them; rather, it makes them much worse over time. Adding judgement instead of being open to where you need support won’t do you any favors.
It is much harder to work through problems when you have been living in them for over half of your life. Entering couples therapy when you are still young, before the patterns have become engrained in your habits, will make it easier for you both to do something different.
Whether you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, dating, cohabitating, or living together, you are sure to benefit from building out good habits from the start.
Find a Communication Pattern that Works
Therapy will help you identify and break unhelpful patterns before they become your normal. They will also help you to replace those patterns with ones that are effective, functional, and healthy for both people involved.
Couples have ways of communicating with one another that reflect their own relationship histories and attachment styles. It’s pretty rare for two people of different backgrounds to meet, join in an intimate relationship, and communicate in a way that is fully effective to the other, right away.
This (completely free) couples cycle guide will help you have early conversations with your partner to figure out what you have been doing and how you move toward a communication style that works for you both.
Discover the Meaning of Your Conflicts + Heal from them
Working with a couples therapist (specifically with an emotion focused couples therapist) will help you and your partner understand past conflicts and hurts.
Maybe there are small things that have happened that you never even felt like you should bring up. Perhaps there are bigger fights that you’ve had that you both want to leave behind, even though you still don’t really understand what happened yet.
A therapist will give you the safe space you both need to process what these events were like for you, how they impacted you, and how they impacted your relationship.
Counseling will also give you the chance to process your own emotions and share them with your partner, creating the ultimate healing experience.
Build Greater Intimacy
As you enhance your communication and heal past wounds, you are bound to feel more closely intimate to your partner.
If you’ve ever been in individual counseling, you know how personal and transformative it is. Couples therapy is next-level; it becomes a naturally intimacy-building space as both partners open themselves up to one another in a structured, non-blaming, honest way.
Guided by your therapist, as you share with your partner, both about how your own past and this relationship has impacted you, you will learn how to develop a secure attachment.
This secure base will become the greatest asset your relationship has, giving you both a foundation of trust that allows you to feel supported as an individual and safety to explore sexually.
A lot of relationships get started without this proper foundation, which makes them even more susceptible to hurt and dysfunction in the long run. Setting yourselves up with a secure base is the ultimate way to protect your relationship from breaking (e.g. affairs, deceit, etc.) in the future.
Learn About your Partner Before Making a Life-Long Commitment
You are going to learn a lot about your partner as you move through life together. It is inevitable that people grow and change over time.
Equally valuable is learning as much as you can about the person in front of you before you make the sacred vow to share your life together.
As a therapist, I knew there were a few things I wanted to do before getting married- living with my partner, and, yes, attending therapy.
Therapy is a space to explore the inner-workings of your mind, the way you express emotions, the way you experience others, and the actions you take in response to your thoughts and emotions.
This is all really important information to have about a partner before you decide to spend your life together, make sacrifices for each other, have kids together, and more.
Establish a Pattern for Dealing with Challenges in the Future
There is no such thing as a conflict- free relationship or marriage. Humans are too complex for that to be true. (Remember, being silent about things that hurt you is not the same as being conflict-free.)
Therapy is going to guide you to understand your tendencies, the parts of you that are more vulnerable to getting hurt by your partner, and the communication patterns that work.
All of these insights and understanding, coupled with the repeated communication practice in sessions to rewire your habits, will equip you to handle difficult times that come up in the future, because they will. But now, you have each other to get through anything you face.
Finding the Right Therapist
Searching for a Couples Therapist
Look for a therapist who is trained in working with couples using the Emotion-focused therapy method.
A google search for a provider in your area (for marriage counseling, couples counseling, relationship counseling, or couples therapist) or an online directory like Psychology Today are great places to start your search.
Many counselors will offer a free introductory call before you schedule an intake. Remember how important it is to pick a therapist that you can trust and vibe with in terms of your therapeutic outcomes, so definitely take them up on this call.
Screening your Therapist
If a free intro call is offered, ask the therapist these questions to guide the conversation?
- How do you view problems?
- Are you trained in working with couples?
- What is your approach to treatment?
- How will we know if we are progressing in treatment?
- How long does treatment usually last?
- What can we expect in a typical session?
The therapist should make you both feel safe about the space they will offer, in tune with their approach, and clear about the next steps. Share any of the hesitations that you have with your potential clinician, and see how their response makes you feel.