Does couple therapy help?

When differences arise between a couple, should they work on the relationship or separate? How and when should this decision be made?

As in any relationship, one person is more flexible and understanding than the other. Some spouses are more radical and have low tolerance levels, especially when it comes to dealing with change. I have noticed differences arising between couples when one partner perceives that the other’s attitude is not the same as before.
Complaints like “But you were not...,” “have changed,” “you don’t go out with me anymore...," “spend too much time in the office” then begin to emerge. What leads to this change? How does a union get affected when both partners are troubled?
When we unite with someone, we need to be completely sure that the decision is the right one for infinite happiness. However, it turns out over several years that life is dynamic and can change, situations change, and that these personal changes sometimes end up interfering with the union.
Small differences lead to lengthy discussions and bickering as the couple becomes a family with the arrival of children. In addressing this subject, I refer to the most tense situations, where the climate is less conducive to dialogue and understanding.
The question asked in the title is almost impossible to answer because each case is unique. There are no fast rules, but there are some considerations to be made for reflection.
Communication is undeniably present in any relationship, regardless of whether it includes affection or not. A kind gesture can be disregarded by someone who does not even recognise the act. A misplaced word can give rise to a heated discussion if there is no tolerance and understanding from a partner.
Some people always try to read between the lines of what is said or done. They are always wondering, “Did the person have an intention to attack me by saying that? Or was he/she distracted and answered abruptly?”
One of the two may become a control freak and ask too many questions, wanting to be aware of the minutest details of the partner’s day. Or else one may plan several things without bothering that the other partner does not even show the slightest interest in any of it.
Many times, change occurs in conjunction with good understanding. Sometimes one partner cannot understand the suffering of the other one, who may be displaying unusual behaviour or keeping a distance.
I believe that couple therapy may help in these cases. The therapist enters as a mediator, trying to translate what one partner means and the other cannot understand, mostly under the influence of emotions.
Is there a way to initiate separation when a person has no courage to face the situation? Initiating dialogue can be complicated, because when the partners try to communicate, they may get overwhelmed and not arrive at any conclusion.
Even if there is affection between them, if a distance is gradually building up and making the partners indifferent, the presence of a professional contributes greatly to the clarity of the picture.
There is no one advice that one can give such couples. They can either separate, or stay in the relationship and tolerate the situation.
The final decision will always be up to the partners. However, during counselling sessions, the couple gets a chance to discuss their problems and complaints, which may bring them closer and help them clarify misunderstandings. The truth appears and fears diminish, making things clearer.
A fear of change is inherent in human beings. It is one of the reasons that people are often miserable. Many things change with separation, and this is why people tend to delay decisions.
Therefore, to sum it up, couple therapy is a good option when one or both partners realise that there is something missing in the relationship.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Dear Dr. Do Vale, I think it is very helpful to try couple therapy when things in a relationship are not going well, but it is also complicated especially when only one member of the couple is willing to take this step. I'm in a situation which is urgently needing therapy, but how can I convince the other person that this is important? Or should I just go by myself and at least feel at peace with myself? Either way, this kind of therapy is meant to help people and I want to thank you for your article.