“You should not go as a last resort. You should go early on,” says Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a relationship therapist in New York City. “Do you call an accountant as a last resort? No. You call before the taxes are due and you think you might need help.” To help you decide if it’s time to call in the couples therapy, ask yourself these expert-recommended questions.
Are you stuck arguing about the same things over and over? Then you might need professional help. “When you’ve gone over the same thing a hundred times and aren’t any closer to resolving it, that might be a sign it’s time to see a therapist,” says Stephen Snyder, M.D., a sex and relationship therapist and author of Love Worth Making.
Are you on the same page as your significant other? Can you sit down and talk to each other to resolve the conflict, instead of one of you shutting down (what Hendrix calls the “withdrawer”) while the other keeps pushing (what Hendrix calls the “pursuer”). “You have to have a way of managing conflict that works for both of you,” says Rebecca Hendrix, LMFT, a relationship therapist in New York. Seeing a pro can help you get on the same page and find a fighting dynamic that doesn’t end with you pulling your hair out in frustration.
Are things dying down in the bedroom? It doesn’t have to be honeymoon sex every night, but if you’ve noticed a decrease in sparks during sex you might want to go. “A lot of times if you’re not connecting physically, you’re not connecting emotionally,” says Hendrix.
Is one of you going through something major? Such as ilness or a loss of someone close? If so, seeing a therapist can help you to stay connected and help each other through bigger issues. “It can be hard for people to stay connected when they’re dealing with a lot in their personal life,” Hendrix says. “When you just don’t know where to turn, you should absolutely get some extra support.”
Not every relationship is perfect, but if you aren’t as happy as you could be, don’t be afraid to see a couples therapist, it can be very beneficial. If you do decide it’s time to see a therapist, Sussman advises choosing your doc carefully. “Make a few appointments and meet with a few people to see who you like the best. You need a very skilled therapist but you also need to feel like there’s a relationship there,” she says. Best of luck!