Tips for Navigating Couple Conflict
Most couples come to therapy at their tipping points; when something has happened, when they are in crisis, and when they need help and tools to fix it! Until then, they may stumble through marrital …
There are many reasons why beginning couples counseling would be in the best interest of your relationship; depending on where you and your partner are in your relationship, transitions you are adjusting to, or your communication and conflict resolution skills, the signs that it is the right time to begin counseling may differ from couple to couple. Below I will outline some things to think about when it comes to knowing when to set up that first appointment.
I believe that the most valuable time to begin counseling is for the purpose of prevention. Of course, we can’t prevent every issue from coming up or even causing strife in our relationships, but the quicker we can intervene the better! The best example of preventative counseling is premarital counseling. Marriage can be a big transition and going into it with understanding of yourself, your partner, and your relationship, as well as tools to help navigate marriage, puts you at a great advantage. Other life transitions that would be helpful to talk through with a professional are becoming new parents, blending a family, moving to a new place, or having parents or other family members move in with you. Another way to prevent seemingly small things from turning into big issues in your relationship is to intervene when you start to see a pattern develop. For example, if you just moved in together and notice that every Sunday you fight when it’s cleaning day, it would be helpful to attend therapy to discuss why this day and activity is triggering discourse.
Another great time to seriously consider having a Marriage and Family Therapist intervene is when you and your partner feel STUCK. We could feel stuck due to a lack of support, lack of motivation, or we could have tried several solutions without feeling successful. Therapy is a great way to gain support, accountability, and a sounding board to work through solutions to help grease the wheels and make progress towards your shared goals.
All of this being said- If you or your partner ever think “we need some help,” it’s the perfect time for therapy!
So now that you have made the great step towards change and made a counseling appointment, here’s what you can expect from your first session. The first session is where we build a foundation and understanding for what our work together will look like. It’s a collaborative experience where you and your partner will provide your insights and concerns into your relationship, as well as expressing goals that you have for this process. Then I would reflect and give my point of view on what I hear is going on and outline an approach to help you achieve your goals as a couple. It is always recommended to begin weekly and then we can work as a team to reflect on progress and therapeutic needs as the process continues. It’s important to me that the process is collaborative.
If you identify with any of these reasons and are contemplating beginning counseling- I assure you that the time is now. We at Stanford Couples Counseling are here to help you start this transformative process and look forward to helping you have the relationship that you want.