10 Signs It’s Time for Couples Therapy

Dr. Greg Kushnick
4 min readAug 29, 2018
Relationship counseling can be a game changer. (Courtesy of Bigstock.com)

Why is it so hard to admit that you need help? What makes you or your partner resist working on your relationship? In my experience as a couples therapist, the answer usually includes some combination of avoidance, blame, drift, timing, fear and beliefs about therapy.

If you’re unsure whether or not it’s time for couples therapy, it probably is time. There’s no shame in getting help. In fact, it’s a strength to have the humility to admit that your difficulties as a couple exceed what you both know how to handle.

I have to admit that as a psychologist I’m biased in terms of when I believe you should seek help because I have the privilege of seeing how relationship counseling can make such a positive difference. Even premarital therapy can be game changing for couples with no major issues to improve in the relationship.

Essentially, the right couples therapist can help to set you on or correct your relationship trajectory so you can enjoy enduring closeness and fulfillment as a unit.

10 Signs You Need Relationship Counseling

  1. Arguments rarely, if ever, end in a resolution.

You know your relationship is in trouble if nothing gets resolved. This issue is a sign that massive resentment is building up on one or both sides. Relationship longevity must include the ability to resolve an argument with both sides feeling heard and respected even if you don’t see things the same way.

2. Physical intimacy is next to nonexistent.

If there’s no “sexy time,” at least one of you in the relationship has checked out. I understand that life happens, but intercourse is an essential way to reconnect, be vulnerable and reassert your love in physical form. Without bedroom fun there’s too much room for other vices to ruin your connection, such as porn or infidelity. A lack of physical intimacy can easily be reframed as failing to prioritize the health of your relationship over other obligations.

3. One or both of you frequently starts sentences by saying, “You always…” or “You never…” to convey anger or frustration.

This is a sign that all loving curiosity has been suspended until further notice. It means there’s very little listening going on and too much assuming mixed with bitterness.

4. One of you is keeping score in the relationship.

Keeping score is a sign that forgiveness isn’t happening. There’s a buildup of resentment and very little letting go. Couples who keep score have lost their way. It usually means that one of you either has anger/rage issues and/or never learned to how to forgive and move on. Keeping score means you feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting or your partner doesn’t deserve things based on past behavior.

5. You just don’t trust your partner or vice versa.

When there’s no trust, you have nothing. That might sound extreme, but it’s true. Without trust, the relationship has no foundation. Trust allows for true sharing, vulnerability and intimacy. Take trust away and these become impossible to do without being on guard.

6. One of you is always told you’re WRONG for thinking or feeling something.

If your partner is frequently invalidating your reality, then your relationship is in trouble. It’s often a sign that he or she doesn’t respect you and refuses to accept that there’s more than one RIGHT explanation for things. Consider this: There are two rights in every relationship. Appreciate this truth or suffer as a couple.

7. One of you gets so angry that the other doesn’t feel safe.

Anger management is probably a better first move than relationship counseling, but with the right couples therapist, there’s wonderful work that can be accomplished to get you on track as a couple.

8. “Quality time” only means time watching screens together AND there’s major resistance to changing this.

Modern technology is changing the way couples define quality time, but if you’re only watching Netflix when you’re together, it means you’re not communicating. This is dangerous and it opens the door to so many bad outcomes for a relationship/marriage.

9. One partner humiliates the other in front of other people.

I’ll save you the cost of the session: New rule…never ever make your partner look bad in front of friends or family. Always focus on making your partner feel celebrated and supported around others. It will strengthen your relationship. If this rule is violated, you probably need outside help.

10. Every time the two of you spend significant time with extended family, you have a horrible fight.

The influence of your extended family (i.e., parents, siblings, etc.) is complicated. Couples counseling can help you minimize the negative impact of your upbringing on your current relationship. Fights after family gatherings are often a sign that one of you feels like the other doesn’t have your back. If you can’t be a united front (who operates on the same page) around challenging parents/in-laws, your relationship will slowly deteriorate and you’re likely to repeat your parents’ mistakes.

Couples therapy can save your relationship if one or more of these signs are present. Of course, there are many other more extreme signs that I didn’t go into, such as one narcissistic partner’s unhealthy patterns wreaking havoc on the relationship (here are signs of narcissism), or in the case of physical or emotional abuse.

Unfortunately, when one member of the couple is pushing for couples therapy and the other is refusing, it might necessitate some form of an ultimatum to get the help you need.

I wish you all the best.

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Dr. Greg Kushnick

Manhattan psychologist with extensive experience relieving the emotional suffering of New Yorkers. Creator of Vomo & Techealthiest, two self-improvement blogs.