The top 10 reasons couples go to therapy, according to a psychotherapist

Getty ImagesThe problems that bring couples to a therapist are often similar.
  • Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
  • As a therapist, Morin has counseled many couples through difficult times in their relationships.
  • Disagreements most often arise about money, jealousy, infidelity, lifestyle differences, and parenting decisions.
  • Maybe your relationship has hit rocky times, but your partner is hesitant to try couples therapy; Morin still encourages reaching out for professional help on your own to gain insight on how to bring positive change into your relationship.
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Whether a couple has been together for six months or 16 years, the problems that land them in my therapy office are quite similar. Although the solutions are unique to each couple, here are the top 10 reasons couples usually seek professional help.

1. Jealousy

sipcrew/ShutterstockInsecurities can often be the root of jealous feelings.

Whether one partner obsessively looks at the other’s social media activity, or they’re convinced that their partner’s business trips are part of an affair, jealousy can break down a relationship fast – regardless of whether the emotions are based on rational facts or irrational fears.

2. Addiction

Getty ImagesSome partners may be defensive of their addiction.

From alcohol abuse and pornography addiction to gambling and obsessive smartphone checking, substance abuse and behavioural addictions take a toll on relationships. Quite often the partner without the addiction is the first to seek help.

3. Infidelity

Shutterstock/ wavebreakmediaOnce broken, trust in your partner can be hard to rebuild.

An affair can stir up anger, hurt, resentment, and betrayal that can’t always be healed. But some couples report growing stronger after incidents of infidelity. When both partners are committed to healing the relationship, professional treatment is often successful in helping a couple move forward.

4. Division of labour

Rawpixel/Getty ImagesIf a couple lives together, it’s important to divide household duties.

Although cooking, cleaning, and errands seem like small issues on the surface, division of labour can be a major issue over the course of a relationship. The partner who feels as though they do the most work may grow angry and resentful of the other, which can lead to daily disagreements that add up over time.

5. Money

ReutersCouples may benefit from having both join and separate bank accounts.

Whether one person is naturally a “saver” and the other is a “spender,” or a couple just isn’t on the same page about how much to spend on major purchases, financial disagreements can add a lot of stress to the relationship. When left unchecked, the divide over money can get wider over time, which can tear a couple apart.

6. Parenting

kate_sept2004/Getty ImagesParenting decisions may pose a challenge.

From determining how many kids to have, to deciding how to discipline kids in the best way, parenting issues can be a big source of strife. One parent may try to win the kids’ favour or may overcompensate for the perceived parenting mistakes of the other. These manoeuvres often shift the hierarchy in the home, as a couple begins to work against each other rather than as a team.

7. Family of origin problems

Hero Images/Getty ImagesTensions can be caused by family members outside the couple.

Parent and in-law issues are one of the biggest complaints couples have. It’s common for one partner to want less contact with the other’s family, or for one person to want their partner to be more involved with their extended family’s activities.

8. Value differences

Mixmike/Getty ImagesValues change over time, and couples may not always see eye to eye.

Sometimes couples overlook their differences in values early on. One might value education or family more than the other. Or they may think that they can overcome differences in how much they value time alone versus time with friends. In other instances, their values change over time, and their relationship grows turbulent as a result. Learning to live with value differences, as opposed to trying to change the other person, often becomes a focus of therapy.

9. Communication

Shutterstock/Ana Blazic PavlovicPoor communication can make both partners feel lost and lonely.

From minimising one another’s feelings to dodging difficult topics, communication problems can weaken relationships. Couples who struggle to communicate are likely to hurt each other’s feelings often – and without help, they may never understand one another’s needs.

10. Permission to get divorced

Getty ImagesSome couples may decide that separation is the best option.

Often couples seek professional help because they want reassurance that they should get divorced. While some may feel guilty about splitting up, others want to be able to say, “We tried everything” – even if they aren’t really trying to reconcile. Instead, they are hoping a professional can affirm that parting ways is a good decision.

How to find help

BSIP/ GettyA therapist can offer a compassionate and neutral perspective.

If you’re questioning whether couples counseling could help your relationship, maybe you should err on the side of caution. Reach out to a trained professional who can assist you in strengthening your partnership. Sometimes, a few sessions might be all you need to get back on track.

If your partner isn’t interested in couples counseling, then go by yourself. You might find talking to a therapist on your own will help you to create positive change in your relationship.

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