A surprising amount of couples wait years to seek help or end up divorcing without first trying therapy.
Less than one quarter of married couples who divorce seek therapy before splitting. Those who eventually get help struggle through an average of 6 years of pain, anger, distrust, and unhappiness before deciding to get help.
When they get to the therapist's office, many couples describe they are there "as a last resort" or an attempt to repair a relationship that both partners described as "beyond repair."
Why do couples wait to seek therapy?
Here are some common reasons people give for delaying couples therapy:
- One partner is unwilling to participate in counseling.
- One parter thinks there is nothing wrong with the relationship, even though the other partner is suffering.
- Couples may feel their issues are too private to share with a therapist.
- Some couples aren't aware of counseling resources in their local area
- Some couples worry about the cost of couples counseling
Couples who wait pay a price.
Waiting to seek out professional relationship counseling means paying emotional, physical, and financial costs later.
Fighting and resentment effects you and your children
When you and your spouse aren't getting along, all areas of your life are impacted. Work may seem more difficult.
Minor stresses turn in to major headaches. Anger, resentment, and pain may damage your mental health or lead to depression.
If you have children they are aware of your fights, even if you try to hide your arguments from them. Children of adults who fight often have difficulties with school performance, or develop anxieties that last into adulthood.
Relationship Distress Can Lead to Health problems
Relationship discord has been found to be related to longer and less effective courses of treatment for these illnesses.
When things are difficult at home, stress builds. When you wait to seek out couples counseling, your stress levels stay high. Chronic high stress levels have negative effects on our physical well being.
Marital distress increases health risks and doctors office visits for problems like blood pressure, chronic pain, depression, or anxiety disorders. When you get sick, it takes longer to heal when you and your mate aren't there for each other.
The longer you wait, the longer the therapy will take.
Therapy in my office with a couple who have been fighting for two years looks very different from therapy with a couple who have been fighting for twenty or more years.
Couples who have been fighting for decades come in to my office highly escalated. They know their lines well, and quickly get into defensive postures in my office. It can several sessions to slow these couples down enough to start the therapy process.
By contrast, couples who seek therapy early, are usually calmer and less stuck in their ways. The therapy work can begin right away.
When couples fight for decades, there are a lot of bad habits that have to be broken down and replaced with good habits. The process of undoing old ways of relating and learning to trust and open up can take a year or more.
When couples seek counseling early, those bad habits are not as deeply ingrained. The memories of the years when you got along are still fresh. New behaviors are learned quickly. Therapy can often take a few months instead of years.
Couples who seek counseling early, save money by needing less therapy.
Early intervention saves relationships.
Dozens of studies over the last decade have proven that marriage and couples therapy interventions are effective.
The type of therapy I practice, Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples, has been shown to be effective for 75% percent of couples, even years after they have finished counseling.
Improving marriages increases general quality of life for you and your whole family.
Research consistently shows that couples who seek help earlier benefit from shorter duration of sessions and experience better outcomes than couples who wait.
Bottom line, couples therapy works and works best when couples start early.
When you're ready to stop the hurt and make your relationship better, give me a call. I'm happy to discuss how I can help you and your relationship.
To schedule an appointment with Brian, call/text (404) 786-0415 or email firstname.lastname@example.org