Couples Therapy: Breaking Free from the Stigma

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Marriage Counseling. The very words can make you cringe. Only couples who are one step away from giving up would try therapy, right? The stigma around couples therapy can make it feel like a last resort, but the truth is that nearly 50% of couples go to marriage counseling at some point. Couples who go to therapy see a roughly 75% success rate for dealing with their problems and strengthening their marriages. So how do you know if counseling is right for you? And if it is, how do you convince your partner to try it, let alone find the right counselor for your relationship?

Couple holding hand at couples therapy.  | The Dating Divas
Couple holding hands during couples therapy

Couples go to counseling for countless reasons, including:

  • Addictions
  • Grief
  • Disagreements about money
  • Differing parenting styles
  • Sex
  • Health problems
  • Frequent conflict

Even the smoothest sailing marriages hit road bumps along the way. While we all go through things sometimes, it’s ok if we need a little extra help to make our marriage even stronger. Choosing to go to couples therapy doesn’t mean there is something inherently wrong, it just means you care enough about your relationship to make it right. Therapy can be a wonderful tool to help divorce-proof your marriage and teach you to work through trials together.

Talking about therapy

There is a great Jim Gaffigan joke about McDonald’s that could easily be related to the stigma around couples therapy. “No one admits to going to McDonald’s, but they sell six billion hamburgers a day. There’s only 300 million people in this country… I’m not a calculus teacher, but I think everyone’s lying.” Nearly 50% of couples are going to marriage counseling, so why is there still a stigma around it?

Couple smiling at couples counseling  | The Dating Divas
Couple working together through couples counseling

We live in a world of highlight reels. If we judge other people’s relationships based on social media, we feel like we are failing. But like anything else, it can help to open up and talk about it. Ask some trusted friends if they’ve ever considered counseling. Find a few people whose relationships you admire and ask them how they made their marriage so strong. With enough digging, you’re statistically bound to find many couples in your life who have been to (and benefitted from) couples therapy.

We don’t all have to start posting all our dirty laundry online. However, being open with those we love and trust can help others know they are not alone. They may even seek out counseling themselves. Stronger marriages all around is a goal worth striving for!

Can couples therapy really help?

So, how do you know if you really NEED therapy?

Even the best marriages are still the combination of two people who were raised in different homes with differing values. Trying to combine your lives seamlessly isn’t going to be easy. Small resentments can build walls between you that eventually become big issues. If we can all look at counseling as marriage maintenance rather than something to be used only when we need a massive repair, we can avoid the huge, painful issues in the first place.

Couples therapy can help you:

  • Work through trials
  • Strengthen your relationship
  • Help prepare for a life changing event
  • Help you communicate with your partner
  • Show you roadblocks you might not even know are there
  • Provide tools to work through future trials, which will inevitably come to all of us
Candy heart help message  | The Dating Divas
Candy heart message: Help

Maybe counseling still won’t feel like a NEED. However, if it can help you work through something, isn’t it worth a try?

“For us, counseling was not a tough decision. It was not something we shared with many people because of the stigma, but really and truly I believe every single person on this earth can benefit from counseling or therapy (if they have an open mind!) For us, we kind of knew that there would be a lot we wanted to talk about in the presence of someone who could make sure we talked in a healthy and safe way.” -One half of a couple who benefitted from counseling.

What if my marriage is thriving?

Choosing to go to couples therapy over a specific issue or issues may seem easy, but what if your marriage is strong or even better than it’s ever been? Why fix it if it ain’t broken?

There are still a multiplicity of benefits available even to couples who are satisfied with their relationships. This is yet another reason to break the negative stigma around counseling! A huge benefit of counseling for many couples is improved communication. Stronger, clearer communication can strengthen your entire family, improve self-esteem, and increase overall harmony in your home. For some, the choice to begin or continue couples counseling is less about fixing a problem and more about avoiding future problems.

Ultimately it may just come down to asking yourselves: are we thriving in our relationship? Are there still areas where we could improve? We do routine maintenance on our cars, or even routinely get our hair or nails done, so why not put that same continuous effort into your marriage?

On that note, once you decide to try counseling, the first thing you may ask yourself is how do I find marriage counseling near me? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!

Finding the right counselor for your relationship

Whether you decide to start therapy alone or you’re jumping in together, finding the right counselor for relationships can be one of the hardest hurdles initially. Hang in there though, because once you find the right counselor and form a relationship, the results can be life-changing!

Maybe you or your partner are already seeing a therapist you know and love. You should discuss if you’d like to see the same therapist as a couple or start fresh with someone new. It’s not uncommon for one partner to feel uncomfortable if there is already a relationship between one person and the counselor. Ultimately, you should decide together what sets you both up for success and go from there.

Marriage counseling near me

Below are some incredible resources to help you find a therapist in your area:

  • Psychology Today has a search engine to look up therapists in your area. You can see their personal biography and credentials. Then you can make the best decision about who seems like the best match for you and your marriage.
  • Call counseling services in your area and ask the office staff if they have counselors who specialize in certain areas. Many counselors will specialize in divorce, betrayal, trauma, etc. This can be a great way to find someone who is prepared to jump right in and help with your specific issue.
  • Similarly, ask for recommendations from friends or family who have been to a counselor for relationships. Starting with someone you already trust will help build the rapport between you even faster.
  • Online therapists are a newer option. They might work great if you are extra busy, or in an area where there aren’t many therapists to choose from. BetterHelp is the largest online counseling service with tons of options to choose from. ReGain is specifically for couples counseling! TalkSpace is an app for extra convenience wherever you are.

Taking the leap

Committing to going to therapy doesn’t mean you’ve made a wrong turn in your relationship, it simply means you want some help to be even happier together. Deciding to begin couples therapy, breaking the stigma, and finding a counselor are not always easy, but the reward is so worth it. Here at The Dating Divas, we are all about strengthening marriages. We will be cheering you on the entire way.

Couple in love gazing at sunset  | The Dating Divas
Couple gazing at the sunset

Do you still have questions? Check out our awesome post full of Marriage Counseling Resources or check out our amazing Reclaim Your Marriage Program.

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I am a cookie & literature loving mom of three and wife to the best person I've ever met. I get my kicks from writing whenever and whatever I can. If you need a book recommendation, I am your girl! I often find myself daydreaming about buying all the items in my "saved for later" cart on Amazon. Oh, and I also drive a school bus, which is pretty cool.

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