Relationships have a way of bringing out some of the most wounded parts of our personalities. The honeymoon phase with a new partner usually feels great — but as time goes by, our insecurities and negative patterns start to come into play. Many fights may go unresolved, leading to built-up resentments. At that point, it is not beneficial or effective to simply rehash your issues. Instead, it is the ideal time to seek couples therapy that works.

Take a look at this quick guide to find out if couples therapy may help you and, if so, what you can expect from the experience. 

Reasons to Go to Couples Therapy

Many couples don’t seek out couples therapy at the first sign of problems, which can be a mistake. Hidden anger and frustration can turn into unhealthy communication habits that eventually become entrenched. 

This may have happened already if your arguments have become constant. When conflict becomes a “way of life,” your core issues with each other most likely haven’t been dealt with. 

Some other reasons to try couples therapy include:

  • If you no longer trust your partner or vice versa. Secrets can destroy trust. If the facts are not out yet, a couples therapy setting can help provide a safe space for you share something you’ve been unable to tell your partner.
  • You aren’t having sex anymore. This can be gradual or sudden. You may not be emotionally intimate, either.
  • You’re both under an unusual amount of stress or in crisis. Perhaps one of you is chronically ill or unemployed. You might be dealing with painful issues of being a blended family. Or, the recent death of a loved one may have dramatically impacted your ability to connect.

Once you find couples therapy that works, you can both identify your respective emotions and learn new skills such as speaking a way that you’ll be heard and listening empathically. 

Couples therapy can also help unearth the core issues underneath the surface. You’ll blame each other less and gain a more objective view of your relationship, putting you back on the path toward mutual trust and respect. 

What to Expect in Couples Therapy 

Lack of knowledge, fear of stigma, and certain myths can lead many people to avoid couples therapy. But it’s actually a very neutral, supportive setting.

To begin couples therapy, you’ll be asked what your goals are. Maybe you’re looking to resolve a very specific problem. Or, you might even need to explore whether divorce is the best option for you. Your therapist will aim to help you achieve what you want, as long as it contributes to your wellbeing.

Sessions may involve practical coaching, in which you discuss your issues as the therapist helps to reframe any dysfunctional thoughts along the way. You may also get “homework” — for example, you may be asked to try certain communication exercises with each other on your own before the next session.

The length of your treatment will depend on your situation. You might need ongoing support for many months, or a few sessions might be all you need in order to resolve an issue or learn a new skill.

Many couples also opt for a couples therapy intensive. This is a retreat-style experience where you can address your issues, uninterrupted by the demands of your busy lives. This can create the momentum you need to move your relationship to a new place much more quickly.

Couple Care in Irvine, California, offers intensives for couples needing such support. Retreats are private (meaning you are the only couple; there is no group format). For more information on scheduling a Couple Care Retreat, please call 949-229-2715, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the website.

Benefits of Couples Therapy

When you find couples therapy that works, it’s a game-changer. Most importantly, it shifts how you and your partner view each other. Even though you start as “opponents,” you learn to be a team, which is critical.

You may come to understand how your individual childhoods and past experiences each made you the way you are, leading you to have more empathy for one another. You’ll be less emotionally distant since your new communication skills will create a safer environment in which to share. And, you’ll arrive at a new starting point from which to grow.

The providers at Orange County Health Psychologists are available to help you on your journey toward a healthy relationship. To seek couples therapy, please reach out to Parul Patel, Psy.D. or Randall B. Davis, LMFT.

—Written by Ekua Hagan for Orange County Health Psychologists