An intimate, romantic relationship brings both physical benefits — such as lower blood pressure and fewer stress hormones — and emotional ones, too — including less loneliness and greater happiness. According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, women and men who were in a satisfying, stable relationships in their 50s were healthier in their 80s than their peers. Good relationships also preserved their memories and cognitive abilities.
You’ve in love and looking forward to building a lasting, lifelong relationship with your current partner, so you can both enjoy all of the benefits that type of commitment and intimacy bring. But as over the moon as you both are right now, you can’t ignore the facts. Maybe you lived through the trauma of your parents’, friends,’ or your own divorce, and want to avoid that fate.
Although you’ve heard of couples counseling, you’ve always thought it was something that people do once their relationship is in trouble. However, just as eating a healthy diet and going to the gym prevents health problems, taking charge of your relationship health with preventive measures such as couples counseling gives you the strength and endurance you’ll need for the long haul.
The expert counselors at the Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling on Bleecker Street in Manhattan recommend that you start couples counseling as soon as you’re in a serious relationship. By learning the skills and insights you need while you’re still in a “honeymoon” phase, the better prepared you’ll be for the more challenging times ahead.
Learn to communicate
One of the most important parts of couples counseling is learning and practicing communication skills that allow each of you to express difficult emotions or talk about conflict in a healthy way. At the Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling, your therapist guides you toward active listening, which stresses empathy rather than judgment.
Your counselor analyzes your current communication patterns and helps you find ones that are healthier and lead to better understanding. You also learn conflict-resolution skills that help you navigate those times when you can’t seem to come to an agreement. These communication skills not only strengthen your romantic relationship, but can often be used in other areas of your life where communication is important.
Move past the past
Each of us has learned unconscious behaviors from childhood or previous relationships that may prevent us from being able to fully connect to an intimate partner. Your counselor helps you each identify and deal with fears or dysfunctional behaviors that you might not even realize are affecting your current relationship. By sharing past traumas or disappointments in a safe space, you and your partner learn more about each other, while learning to respect each other’s histories and boundaries.
Identify potential conflicts
Another benefit of couples counseling is that your therapist helps you both recognize areas of potential conflict, such as different attitudes toward sex, child rearing, or dealing with your families of origin. Your therapist helps you become aware of your differences in opinions without seeing those differences as a threat. Counseling also helps identify and manage dysfunctional behaviors, such as substance use, distrust, or anger.
Together, and with the help of your counselor, you come up with a plan to resolve any issues you have or anticipate could arise in the future. Your therapist may also give you homework that you work on together between your counseling sessions.
Couples counseling is usually short-term, especially if you’re in the early stages of your relationship and don’t have major issues. We usually recommend regular “tune-ups” to keep your relationship functional and healthy as the years go by.
To set up a couples therapy consultation, call us today, or use the online contact form.