Anyone who has been in a relationship can tell you that a lot can go wrong: cheating on Tinder, your friends hating your boyfriend or being in a flat-out toxic relationship. It’s easy to see why long-term couples in bad situations might need or want a relationship therapist. But what about when everything is all #mancrushmonday and dandy? Laura Heck, a marriage and family therapist, says that seeing a therapist before you start fighting — even if you’re unmarried — will leave you with a better sense of self and a relationship ready to stand the test of time.
Too Little, Too Late
“The thing that’s frustrating [to relationship therapists] is that people view therapists as a last-ditch effort,” Laura shared. “If we could get to couples early in the relationship, we could teach them skills that would save people so much hurt and pain that happens later in relationships.”
Opting for a therapist early on isn’t a popular trend. In fact, Laura said that most couples wait six years from the first sign of relationship distress to seek professional help. And while getting help is always a good thing, sometimes waiting that long can be too little, too late.
“We end up seeing these people who are six years down the road [from their first time of distress], and by then, most of them are ready to call it quits,” Laura said.
How to Invest in Your Relationship
That’s why Laura recommends investing in your relationship before the breaking point. While therapists can be relied on as sources of comfort during bad times, they can also teach good relationship habits and skills, such as conflict resolution. If you look at it that way, seeing a therapist seems like less of a big deal. In fact, Laura estimates that half of her clients are unmarried. And you can never be too young, either — the youngest couple she has even seen for therapy was 19.
“So many couples wish that they had started sooner,” Laura said. “If they had gone to therapy sooner, maybe even in their last relationship, then they would have been happier for longer.”
The bottom line is that throughout all of your relationships, one thing remains the same: you. Laura believes that by investing in yourself through relationship therapy, no matter what relationship or life stage you’re in, you have a better shot at happiness whether you’re single, coupled up or in an open-relationship.
Have you had a good experience with pre-marriage therapy? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)