The need for relationship counselling can be a daunting thought, but destigmatising the need for outside help could lead to a healthier relationship.
Ongoing relationship trouble such as lack of communication, emotional distance, or lack of perceived trust, can be detrimental to long-term relationships but are obstacles that can be overcome. Identifying where things are going awry is an important first step in repairing damage before your relationship becomes unworkable.
Relationship counselling can be an effective tool in understanding what parts of your relationship are suffering, how to mend it, or even realise that perhaps your relationship is not meant to be.
Relationship counselling is not a blight on either partner in a relationship but should be viewed as a genuine attempt to save a connection you care deeply about or to build the clarity to make easier decisions.
Here are four key signs it might be time to speak with a relationship counsellor:
Communication becomes increasingly heated (or entirely absent)
A common and easily discernible sign that you may need outside help with your relationship is escalated tension and conflict within communication habits or a complete shut-off from the discussion.
This can manifest in many ways, such as anger becoming prevalent at the slightest provocation, defensive replies early in the conversation, or outright dismissal.
If your day-to-day interactions become increasingly more conflict-oriented, it could be a sign that one or both parties in the relationship have mentally checked out, and are no longer open to honest discussion.
Once ‘listening-to-reply’ becomes the norm, instead of truly absorbing what the other party has to say, it may be time to discuss these problems with a professional. An unbiased look at your situation can be confronting yet clarifying.
Feeling lonely within the relationship
On the opposite end of the spectrum from agitated conflict is pervasive silence. Feeling alone within a relationship, and unable to find the connection that you once felt with your partner, can be a jarring and confusing experience.
Though we try our best not to become solely dependent on our significant other, being unable to rely upon them for open communication can be a sign of apathy or annoyance at your relationship.
Relationship counselling gives couples the chance to re-open lines of communication by viewing the problems they are facing from an outside, unbiased perspective.
If you feel lonely or invisible within your relationship, it may be time to seek professional help to restore balance.
Trust has been broken
Trust is difficult to build and perilously simple to break, which is what makes it one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. When trust is present in your relationship, openness and acceptance of vulnerability builds intimacy between partners that promotes healthy communication. Boundaries are respected, insecurity is eased and respect flows from both parties.
When trust is broken, all pillars of a strong relationship can begin to crumble. Whether it be caused by the discovery of a lie, infidelity or betrayal, a breakdown of trust is one of the most difficult hurdles for a relationship to progress past.
Open communication is key to repairing trust, but it is not a guarantee. Trust is a choice, and cannot be forced, so when you feel that you’ve hit an impasse, it may be time for outside help.
Once trust is broken, realising whether you want to repair it or not can be a useful first step. Some relationships must end, as painful as that may be. However, if you do truly wish for your relationship to succeed, be prepared for a process that cannot be completed within one or two conversations.
It is entirely valid to harbour lingering doubts after apologies; rebuilding trust is a two-way street. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the process, seriously consider relationship counselling in order to alleviate the pressure.
There’s an unequal power balance
Relationships are malleable.
Ever-changing desires wants, needs and goals mean that we are never given set roles within a partnership. If you begin to feel as though you are stuck doing the same tasks, providing the same comforts, repeating the same processes, it can cause apathy to your role in a relationship.
When relationships become formulaic, and you are expected to perform your role without consideration, the power imbalance becomes more glaring. Oftentimes, you may feel unseen if you continue to go through the motions without consideration or praise. For example, if you often do the dishes exclusively, your partner may begin to believe it is just an expected part of your relationship, without a second thought for how you’re feeling at any given moment.
Decisions within a relationship are not always going to require the input of both parties; however, if your partner begins to make decisions that affect the relationship without consulting you, or expecting you to merely agree with their decision, it can be a sign of an unequal power structure.
Often, these power structures are unspoken and semi-conscious, so opening a dialogue to discuss your feelings will always be beneficial. If you do not believe your criticisms or suggestions are being honoured, relationship counselling is another fantastic way to keep the conversation active and present in your relationship.
Relationships are the most powerful sources of happiness in our lives: when they flourish, so do we. On the other hand, few things detract from our well-being as greatly as a struggling relationship. If we’re going to improve the well-being of Australian’s – from couples to communities – then let’s start with what’s most important.
If you're looking to speak to a counsellor about your relationship, booking a free 15 -minute consultation with us at Online Psychologists Australia could be the first step to a happier and healthier relationship.
You'll be matched with a professional, experienced psychologist who best fits your relationships unique needs.