Most couples come to therapy when they have completely run out of steam. While there is a great deal that MFTs can do to help, it's not a time in the family when people feel resilient, optimistic or energized. In order to create permanent change, one needs a good deal of hope and energy. And so does one's partner.
observed that for many couples (especially those who have had a
less-than smooth relationship history, full of stops and re-starts,
difficult emotional turmoil, previous long-term partners and/or huge
life stress) there are much better times to come to couples therapy and
have a much bigger chance for successful growth.
1. Before marriage.
PLEASE consider pre-marital counseling, whoever you are. There are
fabulous tools available to me as a therapist to assess your
relationship as it is now, help you understand your unique partnership
in basic system and personality terms, and help you enter the marriage
more awake to your strengths and weaknesses.
2. After the FIRST really big, painful, emotionally threatening argument.
Happier couples, those whose likes and dislikes, personality styles,
family of origin patterns and conflict themes are more similar to each
other may never even have one of these blow outs. Ever. That would be
ideal. The moment a frightening, threatening, abusive fight happens,
think: Help. We need help.
3. When one of you feels as if you are drifting away from
your partner and couplehood in a big way : a job that takes you away
from home for days or weeks at a time; when new parenthood strains the
closeness; a crisis of faith or health or employment. Couple
relationships are always managing their own sense of healthy emotional
distance from one another. But the marriage should always feel quietly,
confidently connected. If it doesn't, don't let it drift without comment
and professional support.
These are the times I have noticed in
marriages of change and opportunity, when both partners may be open to
learning new things about each other and themselves, and still see the
relationship as positive, life-affirming, permanent. These are the
points at which relationships can be strengthened, renewed, matured.
Don't wait until you can't stand it any more to reach out for
counseling. Chances are, your chances of recovery get lower with every
week you wait.