Happy couples can’t even fathom the idea of going to marriage counseling. But experts say long-term relationships require some maintenance work.
Marriage therapists can help couples keep the sparks alive by teaching them how to develop a deeper connection, fight better and even how to affair-proof their relationship.
We asked two marriage counselors to weigh in.
Intimacy is complicated
Long-term relationships are not easy, and intimacy can fade over time. Familiarity is the enemy of eroticism, and it can be difficult to keep the spark alive. Couples counseling helps couples get to know each other more deeply and find new ways to keep intimacy alive.
Fighting is like weightlifting. When we lift weights, we tear and repair the muscle and it gets stronger.
Learning to fight fair
Healthy couples fight just as much as unhealthy couples. The difference is that healthy couples know how to resolve arguments and make up well.
Fighting is like weightlifting. When we lift weights, we tear and repair the muscle and it gets stronger. Fighting fair and making up can make a relationship stronger, yet most couples do not have an effective repair mechanism. They usually just sweep things under the rug. Couples counseling helps couples learn to fight fairly and to resolve the arguments such that their relationship gets stronger.
You don’t know what you don’t know
A good couples counselor can give you information and tools that you may not even know about. For example: You can learn about the behaviors that predict divorce—and how to prevent them from overtaking your marriage. You can learn about specific behaviors that happy couples engage in to strengthen your marriage.
A therapist can help you compromise so both partners feel like a win-win.
You can improve your communication by learning skills to manage your own emotions, de-escalate conflict, learn how to empathize and understand your partner, and compromise so both partners feel like a win-win. And if you prefer to avoid conflict at all costs, a therapist can help with that too.
Affair-proof your marriage
Most people don’t think they would cheat or their partner would cheat, but even people who consider themselves to be happily married cheat. You can learn the necessary steps to prevent infidelity from rocking your marriage.
— Anita Chlipala, Chicago-based dating expert, owner of Relationship Reality 312, and author of “First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love.”