We're just dating, is it too soon for couples therapy?
Falling in love and having a relationship are two different things - Keanu Reeves
When we think of couples counseling we don’t usually think of young, unmarried couples who are dating. But with today's increase in awareness and rejection of stigma around mental health, couples therapy for those who are dating is on the rise.
Unmarried couples have challenges just like married couples. In fact, this is a crucial time to figure out if you are truly compatible or not. This is also a great opportunity for healing past issues and learning how to be in a healthy relationship.
Issues that bring unmarried couples to counseling can range from facing big decisions such as whether to have children or not to what some perceive as less serious issues such as jealousy, disagreements over commitment, or handling conflict.
Breaking new ground
Children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce themselves. This is a troubling statistic. We don't always want to repeat what our parents experienced in their own marriages. But often our family relationships are all we have to go on. It's where we learned how to relate and get what we want. Our families taught us perceptions about our own self-worth and how to treat others. These are issues that stem right from the core of ourselves, and If what we learned was negative or disempowering, we may recognize a need to change the way we relate.
We might be aware enough to know we don't want to repeat our parent's patterns, but we may not know exactly how to do this.
We learn relationship skills from our parents. Counseling early on, even when unmarried, gives an opportunity to avoid making the same mistakes. We may need to learn how to deal with conflict without damaging the relationship or destroying the other's trust. We may need to learn how to really listen to what our partner is trying to tell us.
Facing future differences and big decisions
Once the relationship progresses, it is advisable to make sure you are on the same page when it comes to major life decisions. do you both want children? How many? what are your approaches to discipline?
Some young couples consider early counseling to be a kind of preventative therapy. The assumption is, rather than waiting for serious issues to surface, tackle them early on and prevent them from ever becoming a threat to the relationship.
Is couples counseling appropriate for us?
Couples counseling is appropriate for any couple looking to improve their relationship and at the same time, prepare for a possible future together. is also gives a space for both partners to express their needs and learn how to communicate in a safe, and trusting environment. A disagreement, if handled correctly, can bring a couple closer together rather than rip them apart.
We are a generation of open-minded, forward-thinking individuals who recognize that if we have a problem, there is no need to go it alone. Therapists for couples can make all the difference in developing a healthy relationship. Seeking therapy while dating provides opportunities to begin to heal old issues while creating the life we want with the person we love.
Jennifer Lauren Arceneaux LMFT is a licensed Psychotherapist and Marriage and Family Therapist. She provides therapy in Culver City, CA to couples, families, and individuals. For more information see Jennifer Lauren Counseling.com