5 Reasons Why Your Partner Wants To Go To Couples Therapy That Have Nothing To Do With You

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couple talking about going to couples therapy
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Having successfully navigated several milestones and transitions in your relationship, you’re finally able to enjoy the comfortable stages of a partnership, sans drama.

But, then, out of the blue, your partner proposes couples therapy. Your stomach sinks, thinking there must be something wrong! Or is there?

Before you refuse, jump to conclusions, or plan how to divide up your coffee mug collection, take a moment to expand your perspective.

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Why go to couples therapy? In my experience as a couples therapist (and a longtime client of couples therapy myself!), the desire to be in therapy is most often a positive sign of the intention to learn and grow both individually and in the relationship.

People reach out to therapists for a variety of reasons. If your partner initiates couples therapy, consider that this might not be about you or something in the relationship going wrong.

Perhaps, you're simply being enlisted as a participant in your partner’s desire to improve or work some things out for themselves. Either way, it's a good idea and something to really consider.

So, why go to couples therapy? Here are 5 reasons that have nothing to do with you, at all.

1. You can explore individual issues in safety and with the support of your partner’s presence.

Beginning the therapeutic process can feel intimidating, especially if it's your first time or you've had negative prior experiences in therapy.

Having the support of someone you trust by your side as you share details of your traumatic past or nagging fears about the future can be tremendously comforting.

There's nothing more healing to your mental health than a supportive relationship, as evidenced by the famous Harvard Study, which cites meaningful relationships as the primary cause for good health and longevity.

Feeling supported by someone you care about reduces your body’s sympathetic (fight/flight) response to stress, allowing you to operate from a place of safety.

When you feel safe in your healthy relationship, your parasympathetic (rest/digest) response helps to activate a more calm, constructive, and creative approach to life.

2. It's a chance to reveal something to your partner that you may not know how to share.

If you've lived beyond your first two or three decades, you bring into your relationships a smorgasbord of life experience. Some call it "baggage," and everyone has it to varying degrees.

Yet, we live in a society that reinforces the need to present ourselves in the best light only. This often means hiding mistakes, covering up imperfections, and sweeping the ugly details of the past under the rug.

Socialization makes you adept at the art of forgetting, denying, and avoiding the "shadow side" of yourself, as Carl Jung terms it.

However, once you enter a relationship, it not only becomes increasingly challenging to hide or deny the totality of who you are, but if you feel safe with your partner, you may actually want to allow them access to you in a way that feels authentic and truthful.

This can be extremely scary, like exposing your soft underbelly. A therapist can help facilitate conversations in a way that honors vulnerability, honesty, and trust.

3. Therapy helps you manage outside relationships.

Relationship expert Stan Tatkin calls it "managing thirds," referring to third parties like children, in-laws, friends, colleagues, etc.

Cultivating personal and professional relationships outside of your partner is part of a healthy and balanced life. However, fluctuating demands, shifting circumstances, and surviving the stress of the day-to-day can cause you to lose sight of your "couple bubble."

Things like the challenges of childcare, an aging parent, or a relentlessly demanding job can pull you away, distract you from your partner, and chip away at your connection over time.

Couples therapy can help you process the feelings of third-party relationships in a way that promotes empathy and understanding for external dynamics while exploring ways to prioritize and cultivate closeness and support within the partnership.

RELATED: What Couples Therapy Really Is — And How It Can Fix A Marriage

4. You gain validation.

There are no fool-proof instructions for how to be a good partner. It takes some combination of practice, experimentation, and trial and error.

For those who don’t have a great deal of experience in relationships and/or haven’t had stellar relationship examples modeled for them, objective validation, guidance, and encouragement can be extremely valuable.

Coaching is in everything, from sports to business careers, but this kind of support in relationships can be taboo. There's a stigmatized assumption that if you need a therapist, there must be something wrong.

Isn’t it just as important to learn and understand what's going right? Therapists can help spotlight, celebrate, and expand on what's contributing to the success of a relationship.

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Oftentimes, this kind of reinforcement can mean the difference between relationships that are tolerable and those that are enriching.

5. Therapy facilitates interest and intrigue.

Along with the safety and comfort that comes with the familiarity of a well-established relationship, we may also experience complacency, routine, and quite frankly, boredom.

This relationship rut can occur when there's nothing particularly wrong, except that it lacks the sense of thrill, novelty, and adventure that more often accompanies uncertainty.

Maintaining the status quo in a relationship inhibits positive growth and meaningful discoveries.

Therapy can help to facilitate a kind of reboot for a relationship, whereby neither partner is to blame, but both are responsible for keeping the flame alive.

Relationships, like fire, require kindling, oxygen, and frequent stoking to stay warm.

Participating in couples therapy is like going to the gym — stretching and strengthening — for your relationship.

When a partner invites you to work out with them, it’s not necessarily their way of telling you it’s time to lose a few pounds.

It’s more likely their way of saying, "Will you come with me? Let’s get healthier together!"

RELATED: 6 Reasons Why You’ve Been Avoiding Couples Therapy

Erin Mason is a licensed psychotherapist, certified yoga instructor, and published writer. In therapeutic practice, Erin works with her clients to identify and cultivate innate resources, inspiring positive change and a more meaningful, rewarding life.