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11 Telltale Signs That You May Need Couples Counselling

Updated: Mar 5

Couples wait six years on average from the initial difficulties until seeking professional support.

These are the telltale signs that you may need some couples counselling to address underlying issues in your relationship. How many apply in your relationship?

Couple experiencing difficulties
Don't wait too long before seeking professional support

1. There hasn’t been much joy or happiness in the relationship for some time.


Research from the field of marriage counselling tells us couples wait six years on average from the initial difficulties until seeking professional support. That’s a long time to wait if neither partner is feeling particularly happy in the relationship.


It’s best to seek professional support the sooner the better to massively increase the chances of a much happier outcome. Healthy relationships create the joy that couples deserve. It’s much easier to achieve with a specialist relationship counsellor. Find out about the options for couples counselling.


2. Small, apparently trivial incidents blow up into much bigger arguments.


You might both be scratching your heads wondering how an earth a seemingly small thing blew up into a major row. And almost anything could be the trigger. This is usually symptomatic of deeper frustrations that are about not being heard or misunderstood.  Unpacking what is really being communicated in such scenarios, with a specialist relationship counsellor helps address the underlying concerns.


3. Arguments keep going around in circles with no change in partners’ positions.


Despite talking it over on multiple occasions, the same arguments keep being rehashed. Each partner adopts their ‘position’, which is really an interpretation of what they think is happening. Unlocking these defensive positions to allow feelings to surface is the key to a much happier kind of relating. A good relationship counsellor will help you to do this.


4. It feels very difficult to bring an important topic up.


That important topic is still important even if it’s not being talked about. It’s very unlikely feelings can be accessed and shared effectively with no talking involved. One of the goals of relationship counselling is to achieve what has been called ‘psychological safety’.


When both partners have the confidence to bring things up in an atmosphere of trust, and without the fear of negative consequences, psychological safety creates the possibility of connection and personal growth. Therapy is often the vehicle through which this is achieved.


5. Resentment has been building up for a while


With nowhere to go, resentment can be a corrosive force in any relationship. Silent resentments can wreak have in a relationship if left unchecked. If psychological safety is experienced (see above), resentments can be shared and acknowledged. Calmly sharing feelings of resentment in a measured way creates the possibility of being heard and acknowledged. This may seem counterintuitive to some, but openness about what someone is genuinely feeling can lead to fa healthier outcomes.


6. Something hurtful from long ago keeps surfacing with no resolution.

Sometimes, there will be a complaint or grievance about something that happened a long time ago. This can be frustrating for both partners. One partner feels the hurt will never be properly acknowledged and the other feels trapped in the same loop because the past cannot be erased. Deeper listening, a skill which can be learned with the right guidance, is a proven method for allowing the hurt to eventually lift.


7. Partners are seeking a ‘confidante’ elsewhere.


When it feels a person’s core emotional needs are not being met, sometimes there is an unconscious desire to have those needs met somewhere else. This is problematic if the emotional energy drains from a marriage or long-term relationship into another close relationship. Reconnecting with one’s partner by acknowledging the unmet needs in couples counselling can help restore the balance.


8. One person is seriously contemplating starting an affair.


Unless the underlying frustration and dissatisfaction is brought out into the open, this can create problems further down the line. It means that something important, often sex and intimacy, are being blocked. Intimacy can mean different things to different people. This is ripe for discussion and exploration in therapy where it is usually possible to resolve effectively to the satisfaction of both partners.


9. One person has already started an affair without their partner knowing.


It goes without saying that this is always likely to create havoc in the relationship further down the line. Contrary to popular belief, this needn’t spell an end to the relationship. But it is unlikely the situation will be remedied without a professional intervention. In these situations, couples counselling may be the reliable only way of navigating through the crisis to determine what the future could look like.


10. One person wants an ‘open marriage’ but the other person doesn’t.


This situation may seem to present a curious relationship conundrum, because unless everyone has agreed to it in advance it can’t really be called ‘open’.  The important thing to consider is how the couple have got to this point. Exploring this with a skilled relationship counsellor will create the understanding to determine what the next step may be.


11. Partners say they are ‘incompatible’ with each other.


In some cases, partners may indeed be incompatible with each other if they have massively divergent views on what their relationship is about. For example, if one partner has had a long-time desire to have children, but the other has zero desire in this respect. But more often than not, when partners say this, they are actually at loggerheads in their communication and simply don’t feel heard. When communication is improved, many apparent ‘incompatibilities’ are much more easily resolved. Find out more about communicating effectively.



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