• Liza Harbison

When to Go to Couples Therapy


The average couple waits six years after their relationship problems have begun before seeking out professional help. This happens for a lot of reasons, like one or both partners thinking their issues “aren’t so bad,” one partner refusing to go until there is a threat of divorce, believing therapy is the last resort when you’re on the verge of divorce, or believing that a couples therapist will just take one person’s side. I hear this all the time in first sessions, and wish I could have seen these clients years earlier. If you have waited until things are really bad, couples therapy can still help. But it will be a lengthier, more painful process than starting when you first need it.


Here are some signs it is time to go to couples therapy:


  1. You are both trying to fix the relationship but feel you have hit a wall in what you can do together.

  2. One or both of you avoids talking about the issues in the relationship.

  3. When you try to talk about improving the relationship, it turns into a fight.

  4. You feel disconnected and don’t know how to become close again.

  5. There has been a trauma to the relationship, such as infidelity, fertility issues, or addiction.

  6. You have the same argument over and over again.

  7. You believe the real problem in your relationship is your partner and they are the only one who has to make changes.

  8. There is a big transition coming in your lives, like having kids or getting married, and you are scared of how it will change your relationship.

  9. You are questioning your compatibility and whether you have the same long-term goals, and need someone to lead these conversations.

  10. You see the path the relationship is on and worry it will decline over time if something doesn’t change.


Find a therapist who makes both partners feel understood and shows you how to shift the dynamics in the relationship to get back on the same team. Sometimes this isn’t the first therapist you talk to, and that’s ok. Your relationship with your therapist matters, too.

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