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Is There Something Wrong With Our Relationship If We Go To Couples Therapy And We Are Not Married?

Surprisingly, I am asked this question quite often. I am puzzled by it every time. Why should it matter if you are not married or not planning on getting married soon?

Many couples choose not to get married ever, or are not ready to marry at the moment. Often this is BECAUSE there are issues of concern that are obstacles to moving forward.

If these are not addressed and hopefully resolved, the marriage simply may not happen and, may be should not happen. Some couples, simply do not ever plan to marry but are still concerned about their relationship and want it to be as good as possible. From my standpoint, as long as the couple is experiencing same repetitive issues that are not getting resolved or there is no progress made, couples therapy should be considered so that the relationship does not fall apart or the issues are so long standing and serious that there is no coming back from them.

One exception to this however, is if the couple comes to me being in relationship a relatively short of time, say within the first 6 months. My thoughts on this are as follows:

  • Typically, there is a honeymoon period with both people feeling on a cloud, where infatuation and idealization of the relationship is a normal phenomenon. This is what we experience as this “in-love” stage. Sex is great, things are exciting, there is desire to be together all the time. It is important to have this experience from my point of view, as this is what keeps you from breaking up at the first sign of trouble. It is a nice experience to go back to, to keep reinforcing the commitment and help struggle with differences which are inevitable. When there are major issues from the beginning, it’s hard to feel infatuated and blissful.
  • Another reason I would feel caution is that even when there is a conflict early on, a couple should make some attempt to resolve it before seeking professional help. It simply feels good to solve your own problems. It also means early on that both partners are capable of being open and caring about the other. It probably suggests there is good communication and that is a good reason to keep going.
  • When there are problems that cannot be resolved without professional help early on, may be things are just not right.

That being said, once the relationship is established and there is a level of commitment, when there a realistic view of each other, when there already been some struggle to deal the differences, which are inevitable, and relationship is not brand new, it makes total sense to seek couples or marriage counseling. It makes no difference whether the couple is married or not.