6 Reasons Why You’ve Been Avoiding Couples Therapy

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Love

Why do couples choose to break up, rather than trying couples therapy?

We spend our childhood dreaming of a perfect marriage to the perfect person. We assume that once we meet "the one," things will fall into place and be relatively smooth sailing.

But once we’re partnered up, we realize that romantic relationships still have pitfalls — conflicts, misunderstandings, and unmet expectations.

When we're not getting along with our significant other, it feels awful because we rely on them for so much of our happiness.

We're completely caught off-guard by the unexpected challenges in our romantic relationship and have no idea how to resolve them.

RELATED: 5 Critical Questions To Answer About Your Relationship Before Going To Couples Counseling

In tough times, couples therapy can make or break your relationship.

When relationships get tough, only one-in-four divorcing couples seeks professional help for their marriage, according to a 2001 survey.

As a couples therapist, it’s frustrating to know that couples aren’t getting the tools they need to make their relationships work. No wonder divorce rates in the U.S. are sky high.

When couples finally make it onto the therapy couch, it’s often years after their struggles began, and sometimes, too late.

Many couples think that the health and success of their relationship are beyond their control, when it isn’t.

Avoiding couples therapy is a huge mistake. Being miserable in a relationship takes its toll on mental and physical health

There’s no need to stay stuck in an unfulfilling relationship. Couples therapy can transform your relationship, with 60 to 75 percent of couples in therapy reporting noticeable improvements.

So why, with today’s astronomically high breakup rates and the known benefits of couples therapy, are you still reluctant to try it?

Here are the 6 most common reasons why you’ve been avoiding couples therapy.

1. You don’t know what couples therapy is and how it can help.

Were you taught that therapy is overindulgent, unnecessary, and a waste of time? Have you heard couples therapy horror stories? Do you believe that couples in therapy always break up?

Perhaps you don’t know anyone who’s tried couples therapy and think that it's just "talking about problems." If so, no wonder you’re steering clear.

Contrary to what you’ve heard, couples therapy is a unique tool for you and your partner to improve your understanding of one another and support your development as a couple.

It draws on scientific research to teach you how to be in a happy and satisfying relationship.

While there may be some "talking about problems," most couples therapy is action-oriented and outcome-driven — you might even see results after the first session.

Exercises and homework are designed to be fun and bring you closer together, like sharing things you appreciate about each other and scheduling sex dates.

Now we’re talking, right?

2. You think therapy means you’re failing.

Society stigmatizes mental health and says that if you’re in therapy, there must be something seriously wrong with you.

While individual therapy is (thankfully) becoming more normalized and accepted, couples therapy is still taboo.

The pressure to be a perfect couple generates shame around relationship issues. Going to couples therapy seems like admitting to the world — and yourself — that your relationship is flawed.

You worry about opening yourself up to gossip or judgment from friends and family.

However, getting help doesn't mean your relationship is failing.

Couples therapy gives you the best chance to thrive as a couple. You learn to be vulnerable — and enjoy it! — to really hear what your partner is saying, and discover new and exciting ways to connect.

You emerge a stronger "team" armed with skills and healthier ways to deal with future issues.

3. You’ve decided your problem is too big or too small.

You may think your concern doesn’t warrant couples therapy.

You may tell yourself that couples argue when they first live together; that it's no big deal that your partner’s sex drive is way higher than yours; or that you’ll figure out religious differences once you have kids.

You may think your obstacles are beyond fixing — like an affair, falling out of love, or a serious mental illness. Yet, all of these and more can be worked out in therapy.

Ideally, get help before your issues get out of control or before they even start.

Couples who go to pre-marital therapy are more satisfied with their relationships and less likely to divorce. They learn valuable skills, like effective problem-solving and are more proactive about getting help later when they need it.

RELATED: 9 Signs That You And Your Partner Should Consider Couples Therapy

4. You believe individual therapy will work better.

It’s easy to blame your significant other for all that’s wrong in your relationship. ("The problem is his alcoholism!")

Or maybe you blame yourself. ("My depression ruined our relationship.")

Many opt for individual therapy to try and fix their relationships, but this rarely works. It takes two to tango and it’s critical for your therapist to see how you both interact to get the full picture.

In my experience, partners who are in individual therapy rather than couples therapy are more likely to break up, because only one side of the story gets told and it’s easier to demonize the person who’s not in the room.

When you avoid couples therapy, you risk ignoring your own issues and accountabilities. You may notice similar dynamics follow you from relationship to relationship.

Had you tried couples therapy in the first place, you could have already worked through your "stuff" and be happily coupled-up.

Additionally, couples therapy allows you and your partner to help each other grow, which means the benefits of couples therapy are greater than in individual therapy.

5. You don’t have the time or money.

Like most good things, couples therapy comes at a cost. You may already be overstretched and over-committed, financially and timewise. Fitting therapy in may sound impossible.

But if you’re being honest with yourself, what could be more important than a fulfilling and pleasurable connection with your partner?

Prioritizing couples therapy is the first step to becoming a happier couple.

You're saying, "This relationship is important to me and us."

Most people find that they can swap something out to make room for couples therapy — and many wish they’d done so sooner.

6. Your partner won’t try couples therapy.

It can be awkward to ask your other half to go to couples therapy with you, especially if they’re the private type or they don’t see the problems you do in the relationship.

Perhaps, you’ve already suggested couples therapy to your partner but were shut down. They may have a secret they’re afraid to share or are unsure of how a future together is possible.

Men are often less open to therapy than women, as they are socialized not to ask for help or talk about their feelings.

Try educating your partner on what couples therapy is and how it could improve things between you. Give them a sense of "what’s in it for them." (Perhaps, this article can help.)

As a last resort, tell your partner how important it is to you to try couples therapy together so you can continue to evolve as a couple.

If they still won’t go, you might want to reconsider the future of your relationship.

Now that you know why you’ve been avoiding couples therapy and how it can radically change your relationship, maybe it’s time to give it a whirl!

Every week, I see couples create the relationship they’ve dreamed of having, all thanks to couples therapy.

Don’t let your relationship problems get to the point of no return, especially when it can be completely avoided by facing your fears and getting your butts into the therapist’s office.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, a good first step is to set up a call with a couples therapist to test the fit. Shop around to find someone with a style that suits you and your partner.

If you still feel uneasy, tell your new therapist — that’s what they’re there for.

And after you’ve tried couples therapy and realize how amazing it is, tell everyone you can!

The more good stories out there, the more likely it is that other couples will get the help they need.

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

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Talia Litman, MFT, is a New York-based Marriage & Family Therapist who works with motivated couples and individuals to transform their relationships and sex lives. Email Talia to learn more and follow her on Instagram.