7 Lessons I've Learned in Couples Counseling

Jennifer March, MS

Lessons learned from couples counseling.

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

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During a bump in my relationship with my husband, we decided it would be essential to seek couples counseling. We wanted to understand each other better so we could handle conflict better.

Through couple counseling, we discovered so many beautiful aspects of our relationship. We religiously followed the materials given to us. We both made a conscious effort to learn as much as possible and ultimately understand each other better.

We came to figure out that our ‘bump’ was simply a breakdown of communication and misunderstanding of one another.

My husband and I wanted to keep our relationship strong and healthy; couple’s counseling was the fix we needed.

A healthy relationship should grow a garden, not cause destruction.

There should be growth, mutual understanding, and respect for one another. Campbell University lists mutual respect, compassion, empathy, and much more as common healthy behaviors (I really recommend reading the rest of this list, it’s very informative and helpful!)

Through our time in counseling, I discovered some traits that a healthy relationship must-have.

1. Communication

In a healthy relationship, there needs to be communication. This means that you communicate when you are sad, angry, happy — essentially your wants and desires from the relationship.

Your partner cannot read your mind nor understand what you are feeling.

With open communication, there needs to be room for conflict. Conflict is standard in every relationship. Couples need to communicate to best serve themselves and their partner in the relationship.

Suppose you aren’t comfortable sharing your true feelings with your partner. How can you be happy in that relationship?

You should always discuss an issue with your partner or talk about something on your mind. Make sure that your needs are expressed and that your partner’s needs are met as well.

When conflict arises, both parties must be able to resolve these issues.

2. Conflict resolution

When there are issues in the relationship, both parties work together to find a resolution. Disagreements are going to happen no matter what. Even the healthiest relationships will have conflict.

Conflict isn’t so much the issue as the resolution. Working through conflict is essential for a healthy, lasting relationship.

With communication comes the aspect of resolving those issues. If conflict is inevitable, how can we fix our problems?

3. Reliability

You should rely on your partner when you need them and when they need you. You have to be present and available. A healthy relationship will have reliability between you and your partner.

But reliability is not confined to just being present but also being reliable in other aspects. Whatever your relationship may call for, be sure to be present and available for your partner.

4. Choose each other every day

Every day when you wake up, you choose your partner. The word ‘choose’ sounds like such a weird word, as if your partner is a candy bar that you can pick.

But you have to choose each other. That’s what it simply comes down to. Happy relationships work because the partners have put in the same effort and want to stay.

You should feel safe overall in a relationship. Healthy relationships should allow you to feel safe and comfortable. There will definitely be bad times and challenging times, but choosing to be there for each other.

5. Being your own person

Being your own unique individual in a relationship is actually a sign of a healthy relationship. When you choose to spend your time with someone, that does not mean you have to become that person.

I desperately thought this was what I had to do. I tried to be like the people I liked because I wanted them to continue to like me. When you reflect who your partner is, then where is your uniqueness?

My partner and I share different hobbies, but we also have shared activities. My partner enjoys playing video games and loves martial arts. Whereas I enjoy bowling and gardening — totally opposite from my partner, right?

Well, we take this time to learn about each other more — they come to my bowling games, and they admire my garden. I like to watch my spouse conquer the latest Nintendo game and kick some butt in a martial arts class.

6. Time apart from one another

Couples cannot be together constantly. There has to be a time when they are apart; Time apart is good.

Again, I used to be terrified of this because I thought they wouldn’t like me anymore. But what I’ve learned is that time apart is good. Being apart from each other can help you check in with old friends, tap into your own wants, and plus — it’s great to see your partner after a bit of a bit apart.

I’m not saying to take days away from your partner, but whatever that may mean for you and them. Maybe a solo trip, or even a solo dinner — whatever works for you is excellent.

7. Teamwork

On the same note, teamwork and teamwork are essential for conflict resolution. A healthy relationship involves collaboration, meaning you work with your partner as equals. This falls under finances, household management, and living a joined life.

Teamwork is the biggest thing I have learned. It’s no longer just me; I have to think about us. Going from a ‘me’ to ‘we’ is one of the hardest things I have learned. But every day, I can see the benefits.

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Underneath a happy and healthy relationship comes a long stretch of work — from both parties. Communication, reliability, and making a conscious choice to be with your partner are essential.

Although only seven characteristics are listed, many more can lead to a healthy relationship. These seven parts of a healthy relationship should always be there — through the bad times and good times.

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As Originally Posted on Medium

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Psych nerd turned freelance writer | MS in Psychology | Mom of two cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind

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