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Secret Relationship SOS: When to Seek Couples Counseling

Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT


Maintaining a healthy and satisfying relationship is no easy feat. It requires constant effort, communication, and compromise from both partners. However, there are times when the challenges become too great to manage on your own. When conflicts arise, and it feels like you are stuck in a vicious cycle of arguments and misunderstandings, seeking couples counseling can offer a way out.


Couples counseling provides a safe and neutral space for partners to address their issues, improve communication, and work towards a healthier relationship. It is a lifeline for couples who find themselves in a secret Relationship SOS (Significant Other Struggle), struggling to navigate through the rough waters of their partnership.


While couples counseling can be highly effective in improving relationships, it is important to note that the willingness of both partners to work on the relationship is crucial for its success. If one or both of you are not fully committed to addressing the issues and making positive changes, the counseling may not yield the desired results.


In this blog post, we will delve into the signs that indicate it may be time to seek professional help to save your relationship. From communication breakdowns and unresolved conflicts to feelings of loneliness and disconnect, we will explore the common red flags that suggest your relationship may benefit from the intervention of a couple’s counselor. 


Stay tuned for practical tips and advice on how to navigate through these challenges and strengthen your bond with your significant other.


Couple engaged in a counseling session to improve their relationship

When to Seek Couples Counseling

1. Communication breakdown:

In any relationship, healthy communication is essential for understanding each other's needs, avoiding misunderstandings, and resolving conflicts. However, when communication breaks down, it can lead to a toxic environment filled with frustration and resentment. 


If you find yourselves constantly arguing or unable to effectively express your emotions, seeking couples counseling can help you learn effective communication techniques that can rebuild the foundation of your relationship.


Some common techniques a counselor may teach for communication include:

  •  Conversing with positive language

  • Learning nonverbal communication cues (ex. body language)       

  • Setting aside dedicated time to talk and truly listen to your partner

  • Using "I" statements to express your feelings and needs

  • Avoiding blame and accusations

  • Practicing empathy and understanding towards your partner's perspective

  • Asking open-ended questions to encourage meaningful dialogue

  • Taking breaks during heated discussions to cool off and come back with a clear mind

  • Seeking feedback from your partner on your communication style

  • Utilizing communication exercises and role-playing to practice effective communication

By learning and implementing these techniques with the guidance of a couple’s counselor, you can improve your communication skills and rebuild trust and understanding in your relationship. Remember, healthy communication is the key to a strong and fulfilling partnership. 


2. Trust issues:

Trust is the foundation upon which all successful relationships are built. It is a vital aspect that can make or break a partnership. When trust is broken, it can lead to a cascade of issues that may threaten the stability of the relationship. There are several reasons why trust problems may arise, such as past experiences of betrayal, unresolved trauma, or low self-esteem.


For couples struggling with trust issues, seeking the help of a counselor can be instrumental in addressing and resolving these challenges. A counselor can help the couple identify the underlying causes of their trust issues and work towards developing strategies to rebuild trust and strengthen their bond.


Through open and honest communication facilitated by the counselor, both partners can express their feelings, concerns, and fears in a safe and supportive environment. This can help to foster understanding and empathy between the couple, leading to greater intimacy and connection.


In addition to communication, boundaries and expectations play a crucial role in rebuilding trust. Setting clear boundaries and establishing mutual respect are essential in creating a healthy and secure foundation for the relationship.


Ultimately, the goal of couples counseling is not only to address the immediate trust issues but also to equip the couple with the necessary tools and skills to navigate challenges in the future. By working together with a counselor, couples can learn to rebuild trust, strengthen their relationship, and lay the groundwork for a fulfilling and lasting partnership.


3. Emotional disconnect:

Over time, couples may find themselves feeling emotionally disconnected from one another. The spark that once ignited their love may dwindle, leaving both partners feeling lonely and unfulfilled. Emotionally connected couples should feel that they understand each other on a deeper level, that they are “soulmates.” You should feel close, be comfortable sharing your deepest feelings, and validate one another.


If you notice a lack of emotional intimacy in your relationship, seeking couples counseling can provide an opportunity to explore the underlying issues that have led to this emotional disconnect. By identifying the root causes and working through them together, you can reignite the flame and regain the emotional closeness you once shared.


Sometimes, it can be difficult for couples to recognize the lack of emotional intimacy but may feel they recognize it after the problems have arisen and gotten severe. If emotional intimacy is lacking, there also tends to be a lack of physical intimacy and affection as well. 


You may feel distanced from your partner, lonely, and unsupported. It is important to recognize these signs and to work on this conflict with a couple’s counselor.


4. Continuous conflicts and unresolved issues:

Every relationship experiences conflicts from time to time. It would be concerning if you and your partner had any slight conflict. However, when conflicts become a constant presence in your relationship, it can cause a significant strain on both partners.


It is important to address these conflict issues, or they will only linger and grow increasingly worse. The key is to be able to have the skills to resolve conflict healthily.


If you find yourself stuck in a cycle of continuous conflicts and are unable to find a resolution, couples counseling can help you identify the underlying dynamics that perpetuate these conflicts. A counselor will help you learn skills to healthily resolve conflicts. 


It is important to remember that counseling can help couples who only experience slight conflict and wish to learn these skills early before the problem becomes severe. Everyone can benefit from counseling at any given time. A professional therapist can guide you in developing problem-solving skills, promoting empathy, and teaching effective ways to navigate disagreements.


5. Long-standing resentment:

Resentment can build up over time, poisoning even the strongest relationships. These feelings are a result of the belief that you are not being treated properly and fairly by your partner. There are many reasons someone may develop these feelings, from disagreements to learning you do not share similar life goals in some areas. 


It is important to address any feelings of resentment before they irreparably damage the bond between partners. Resentment does not automatically doom a relationship; it just means you need to hunt out the root cause.


If there is resentment in a relationship, you may be passive-aggressive toward your partner (or be on the receiving end). You may be less intimate (emotionally or physically) with your partner. There may be an increase in arguments and feelings of anger or agitation. The resentful partner may be ignoring the other one. If these signs are present, it is important to seek help to improve the relationship.


Seeking couples counseling can create a safe space to openly express and explore these feelings. With the guidance of a therapist, you can work towards forgiveness, understanding, and letting go of past grievances, ultimately strengthening your relationship.


6. Unresolved trauma affecting the relationship:

Unresolved trauma from past experiences can impact relationships in profound ways. Whether it is unresolved childhood trauma, individual trauma, or a shared traumatic event, it can leave a lasting mark on the relationship. There may be unknown emotional triggers that could be set off by a partner, which can cause even further strain on a relationship.


Seeking couples counseling can help both partners navigate these complex emotions and heal together. A skilled therapist can provide effective tools to support each other through the healing process, teaching coping mechanisms and fostering understanding and compassion. This is how a couple can best learn to navigate these emotional challenges together.


7. Feeling stuck and hopeless:

If you find yourselves feeling stuck, hopeless, or uncertain about the future of your relationship, couples counseling can offer a fresh perspective. Feeling stuck may mean that you have been experiencing increased anxiety towards this relationship. You may feel you do not matter or that you have no say in any matters in the relationship. You probably feel scared to speak up.


A professional therapist can guide you through self-reflection and open new possibilities for growth and positive change. By addressing deep-rooted issues and working through obstacles together, you can gain clarity, renew your commitment, and find hope for a better future.


When it comes to seeking couples counseling, timing is crucial. The earlier you recognize the signs and seek help, the higher the chances of restoring your relationship to its former vibrancy. It is best to look into counseling before the problems become severe.


Remember, seeking counseling is not an admission of failure but rather a courageous step toward finding healing, growth, and fulfillment in your relationship. Do not let your secret relationship SOS go unnoticed.


It is also important to note that your relationship does not need to be on the brink of failure to seek couples counseling. Yes, it is common for those in failing relationships to seek professional help, couples in seemingly healthy relationships also seek out couples counseling. They may need help addressing some minor strife in their relationship that is otherwise healthy and strong. 


Again, seeking counseling is not a sign that you have failed, it is courageous and healthy. Strengthening your relationship is important, so do not be embarrassed if you are seeking counseling for any reason. Reach out for support and invest in the future of your partnership.


Conclusion

Couples counseling can be a transformative experience for your relationship, no matter what stage you are currently in. It is a proactive step towards building a stronger, healthier partnership and deepening your connection with your partner. 


Don't wait for things to get worse before seeking help; reaching out early can prevent issues from escalating and help you navigate challenges more effectively. Remember, seeking counseling is a sign of strength, not weakness, and shows your commitment to making your relationship thrive. 


Facing communication breakdowns, emotional disconnect, or unresolved conflicts? At Neurofeedback & Counseling Center, we offer flexible counseling services in Pennsylvania designed to help couples like you overcome challenges and rediscover joy in your relationship, both in-person and online.


Our experienced therapists provide a safe space for open communication, exploration, and growth. We utilize evidence-based approaches to help you:

  • Rebuild trust and intimacy

  • Resolve conflict constructively

  • Navigate trauma and past experiences

  • Reignite passion and connection

Don't wait. Whether you prefer the convenience of online virtual therapy or the comfort of in-person sessions, we have a solution for you. So, take that first step towards a brighter future together and invest in the love and happiness you both deserve.



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