7 Signs You and Your Partner Need Couples Therapy

7 Signs You and Your Partner Need Couples Therapy

There is a common misconception about couples therapy that keeps many relationships from reaping the benefits: people often think there needs to be something drastically wrong in their relationship before they seek help. But in my experience, there are often small signs you need couples therapy early on.

In fact, in my years as a couple therapist, those couples that proactively seek help at the first sign of difficulties are the ones with the best relationships and the best outcomes after therapy.

If you’ve been thinking about your relationship and wondering, “Should we go to couples therapy?,” then there’s a good chance you could benefit from it.

So, when should you go to couples therapy? Let’s explore this question a little bit further before jumping into some of the signs you need marriage counseling or relationship therapy.

When Should You Go to Couples Therapy?

Think of your relationship like a car. Your car needs gas in the tank to run, right? Similarly, when you are in a relationship, you need positive, loving experiences to fill up your “love tank” or things start to break down. 

Your car also needs oil changes and regular maintenance. Unless you are a mechanic, you probably bring your car to an expert to keep it running smoothly. If you have never learned how to fix or maintain a car, you would never try to do it yourself. Your car is a very expensive piece of property so you treat it with care. Then why treat the most important relationship of your life any differently?

Couples therapists have seen every issue you are dealing with and many more. They are trained to help identify signs you need couples therapy and to help you get through the tough times. 

Sometimes all you need is a quick tune-up and sometimes you need a major overhaul. Either way, don’t hesitate to reach out for some guidance from an expert in times of trouble. The rule of thumb is if you are thinking about couples therapy, you probably need it. 

In other words, if you researched “signs you need couples therapy” to find this article, then it’s probably time to find a couples therapist online or near you.

Constant bickering and arguments without resolution are one of the many signs you need couples therapy.

Still not sure if you need a relationship tune up? Here are 7 signs you need couples therapy:

1. You are navigating a new phase in your life.

Change can be stressful, even when it is a positive change. Life milestones or changes such as getting married, having a baby, loss of a family member, illness, moving, a new job, or retirement can all put a strain on your relationship. Major life changes often put added pressure on the relationship causing one or both of you to feel the need for some added support. Experiencing one of this big life changes as a couple or an individual is often a good sign you need couples therapy – especially if you’re struggling to navigate it.

2. The negative experiences outweigh the positive.

Research shows that healthy relationships have 5 positive experiences to every 1 negative. If this balance is out of whack, you would likely benefit from couples therapy.

3. You are constantly bickering and arguing.

You and your partner should be on the same team, not enemies. Rather than look for everything that is wrong with each other, look for everything that is right. If your relationship consists of constant bickering, one upping each other, and arguing, it’s one of the best signs you need couples therapy.

4. You avoid talking about issues.

If you find yourself skirting around issues or lying to avoid conflict, it’s time to get help with your communication as a couple. Likewise, if you end up fighting every time one of you brings up an issue rather than talking about it calmly and rationally, it’s time to learn some new problem solving techniques.

When should you go to couples therapy for communication issues? As soon as you realize there’s an issue! A good therapist can teach you ways of communicating that will last long after you finish therapy.

A couple sits in bed reading about signs you need couples therapy on a laptop.

5. You have the same argument over and over again with no resolution.

When arguments come up repeatedly with no resolution, it’s usually because the issue is rooted in your history as individuals rather than current problems in your relationship. It’s also one of the most common signs you need couples therapy. 

Many times we choose partners who are uniquely suited to reopen our past childhood emotional wounds. A skilled couples therapist will help you learn how to become less triggered by your partner. For more on this, read my blog post How Your Childhood is Affecting Your Romantic Relationship and What to Do About It.

6. You feel more like roommates than lovers.

That lovey dovey feeling that comes so naturally in the beginning of a relationship takes a little bit of work to manufacture as time goes on. But will couples therapy work if you feel like the spark is gone? It definitely can! A couples therapist can help you identify the challenges that may be causing you to feel like roommates and help you rekindle the romance.

If this is your relationship issue, check out this simple exercise that will help bring back the romance in your relationship. 

7. One or both of you is having or contemplating an affair.

Many people don’t realize how many relationships recover and even become stronger and happier after an affair. Three quarters of couples who go through infidelity end up working it out and staying together. Still, infidelity – or even thinking about an affair – is one of the strongest signs you need couples therapy.

The recovery after an affair is long and hard, but a good therapist can help you look at why the affair happened and repair what was missing from your relationship in the first place, leaving you more connected and happier than you were before.

When To Start Couples Therapy

If one or several of these points resonates with you, it’s probably a good sign you need marriage counseling or couples therapy. 

But when should you go to couples therapy? I always urge couples to go sooner rather than later. The average couple waits 6 years from the time they notice a problem until they get therapy and often at that point, it’s too late. 

If you wait until one or both of you wants to break up or you are so angry and resentful you can’t be reasonable, it makes couples therapy more difficult and often, less effective.

There are many couples therapy benefits – the most important being a happier, more connected and more fulfilling relationship. There will always be couples who try therapy and still break up. But if you’re wondering, “is couples therapy worth it?,” chances are – it will be.

After seeing signs you need couples therapy, a couple experienced the benefits of couples therapy.

Once you’ve decided there are enough signs you need couples therapy and you want to give it a try, check out this blog on How To Pick A Couples or Marriage Counselor for tips on how the find the right fit in a therapist.  Whether you want to try online couples therapy or find a relationship counselor near you, there are many options.

Our team at Couples Learn is also always happy to answer any couples therapy questions you may have. Whether you’re committed to the idea of trying therapy or you or your partner are still hesitant, we can help you figure out how to know if you need therapy and tell you more about the couples therapy process.

Schedule your free 30-minute consultation with a Couples Learn therapist now to learn more.

This post was first featured on Connect With Life

5 Surprising Ways to Help Your Relationship

5 Surprising Ways to Help Your Relationship

If you are like most people, the first thing that comes to mind when you decide to improve your relationship is something that you can do for your partner. 

You start to think about getting him tickets to a playoff game, or cooking her your famous lasagna. You might even start researching unique ways to improve your relationship.

Let’s be clear, those things are great. However, the real key to improving your relationship is to start with numero uno. That’s you, by the way. 

You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.” Well, it’s true. Loving yourself in a relationship is one of the best things you can do to improve and strengthen your relationship.

Before we get into some strategies you can use to love yourself more, let’s explore why loving yourself is important and what happens when you start loving yourself.

Why Loving Yourself Is Important In a Relationship

There are many reasons why it’s important to love yourself in a relationship. But one of the biggest reasons self-love has an impact on the quality of your partner relationship is because of a psychological term called “projection.”

Projection occurs when you have negative or uncomfortable feelings about yourself that are hard to accept. So, you unconsciously project those feelings onto someone else.

Let’s take a look at what this looks like in the real world. If you don’t love yourself or feel like you’re unworthy of love, then you might feel like your partner doesn’t love you. You may interpret their behavior as proof that they don’t love you. 

As you can imagine, all of this can have a pretty significant impact on your relationship. If you’re working to improve your relationship, then it’s important to make loving yourself the first step on your to-do list.

A couple embraces in a kitchen after working to improve their relationship

How To Love Yourself & Improve Your Relationship

So, if you’re convinced that self-love is an important part of improving your relationship, how can you go about actually doing it? Use these 5 tips to make loving yourself in a relationship easier.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Grow

I get it. You finally found someone who you love spending time with, and you don’t want to risk changing, because what if that ruins the relationship? 

The thing is, one of the biggest markers of a solid relationship is the ability of both partners to reach their highest potential, while together. If one or both partners feels like they are being held back, the relationship will likely fail. In other words, growing and changing as an individual can actually help improve your relationship.

Allow yourself the space to develop to your fullest potential. Live fully and take chances. If the relationship is meant to be, it will grow right along with you.

2. Establish Who You Are Outside Of The Relationship

Relationships that bring together two whole people are much healthier than relationships made of two half people trying to be who the other wants them to be. 

Do you like swimming or skiing? Are you interested in drawing, painting, or poetry? Whatever your interests are, make time to indulge in them outside of the relationship. Not only will this brighten your step, but it will also give you something new to talk about when you see your partner again, which can help improve your relationship.

3. Realize That You Did Not Marry Your Mother/Father

I can’t tell you how often people, unconsciously, make this mistake. If you find yourself acting like a child around your partner, it may be that you have some unfinished business with one of your parents. 

Therapy can help with this, but, sometimes, all you need is a reminder that you are an adult and your spouse is not your parent (even if he/she may act like it sometimes). Keeping this in mind is one of the simplest ways to improve your relationship.

4. Keep A Gratitude Journal

Numerous studies have shown the far-reaching positive effects of gratitude. Everything from your stress-level to your overall happiness is affected by being grateful. Not surprisingly, this practice can help improve your relationship too.

By keeping a gratitude journal, you are reminding yourself of all of the reasons that you have to be happy, and this happiness will naturally leak out onto your relationship. Try to write 3 things per day that you are grateful for and make at least 1 of them about your partner or relationship.

5. Follow Your Dreams

Happy couples support each other’s hopes and dreams. If you’ve always wanted to learn French, do it! Or, maybe your goal is to race a triathlon. 

Whatever it is that you’ve been dreaming of, now is the time to make it happen. Either your relationship will become stronger for it, or you’ll realize he or she wasn’t the one for you. Either way, you win when you start loving yourself.

A couple hugs and places their foreheads together outdoors while working to improve your relationship.

Improve Your Relationship Even More

If these tips don’t seem like enough to help improve your relationship with your partner or yourself, then you might need a little help in the self-love and happiness department.

If that’s the case, an experienced couples therapist or individual therapist could help you learn to start loving yourself and improve your relationship.

Contact Couples Learn to book a free 30-minute consultation and get started today.

6 Tips for Getting Along With Your Partner’s Family

6 Tips for Getting Along With Your Partner’s Family

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again! The holidays are in full swing and it’s going to be a new year before we know it. That’s why I thought this would be a good time to talk about the “F” word. Family. Why, what were you thinking? If you’ve ever wondered how to get along with your in-laws or struggled to enjoy time with your partner’s family, then this post is for you!

Learning how to get along with your partner’s family is almost as important as learning how to get along with your partner. Friction between you and a family member is certain to cause issues between you and your loved one.

This year, as families navigate yet another holiday season that isn’t exactly normal (thanks to COVID-19, vaccines and varying opinions on how to handle holiday gatherings), learning how to get along with your in-laws or partner’s family is more important than ever.

So, in the interest of having a peaceful holiday season, here are some tips on how to make nice with your main squeeze’s people.

How to Get Along With Your In-Laws in 6 Steps

Not getting along with family – whether it’s your own or your partner’s family – is a quick way to spoil a holiday gathering or entire holiday season. And if it goes too far, a bad relationship with your in-laws can even have an impact on your relationship.

So, how to get along with family members (even those who don’t seem to like you very much)? Follow these six tips.

Choose Your Topics Wisely

There’s a reason that people say not to bring up politics or religion at the dinner table. Be mindful not to say anything that might start a debate or broach a topic that is emotionally charged. If others bring up touchy subjects, channel your inner Switzerland and remain neutral.

Though you may have strong opinions, when meeting your partner’s family, keep those opinions to yourself. Smile, nod, and politely change the topic.

There may come a time when it’s appropriate to disagree or share your opinions with your partner’s family. But especially if your relationship is new or you’re specifically trying to figure out how to get along with your in-laws, it’s best to hold your tongue on controversial topics.

Hold On Loosely

One of the biggest reasons for any of your partner’s family members to dislike you is the fear that you are stealing their son or daughter away.

Jealousy can run rampant when a mama’s boy is suddenly paying more attention to his girlfriend than his mother. Sisters can also become protective when their baby bro gains a new love interest. Similarly, dads and big brothers tend to watch over the girls in the family like hawks.

My advice? Don’t engage, be humble and be deferential. Refrain from getting into a power struggle about who he or she loves the most. Realize that you are the significant other and that gives you special perks, but don’t rub it in his or her family’s face.

At the end of the day, if you want to figure out how to get along with your in-laws or your partner’s family, then it’s important to respect the special role they play in his or her life.

Learning how to get along with your in-laws at the holidays can make for a better Thanksgiving dinner

A Compliment Is Worth A Thousand Words

Another reason that family members can be sketchy around significant others is because they fear that their loved one might get hurt. Complimenting your partner in front of his family or even complimenting his parents on what a great job they did with him, can help ease these worries. Remember, this is someone’s baby you are dating!

Getting along with family becomes a lot easier when they know you truly care about their loved one – and their family as a whole.

Play Fair

As much as possible, try to spread your time evenly between both of your families. Clearly, if one family lives out of town, this may not be easy, but make an effort to include each family in your plans.

Maybe spend Thanksgiving with one group and Christmas with the other, or vice versa. If either or both of your parents are divorced, you might have up to four families to divide between and this can get complicated. Just do the best that you can, and try to double up when possible. Maybe your Mom gets along with his Dad? Excellent! Two birds, one holiday!

While not getting along with family may make the idea of spending a holiday with them challenging, it’s important not to create a divide between you, your partner and their family. That will only make getting along with your in-laws (or potential future in-laws) even more difficult and hurt your ability to have a truly healthy relationship.

Channel Your Inner Zen

What happens if there is a certain family member you just can’t stand? You’ve tried every which way to get along with him or her and it’s just not working. You have 2 choices. 1) You can refuse to be around this person and make your partner choose between hanging out with you or family or 2) you can learn how to channel your inner zen and let the resentment go.

How does that work? Glad you asked! Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches us that it’s not the circumstances that make us feel a certain way but our thoughts about the circumstances. How we feel and how we react is directly related to our thoughts and expectations about a situation.

Let’s use an example. Say you hate your girlfriend’s brother. You think he is arrogant, difficult and unpleasant to be around. He’s always trying to show you up and prove that he is cooler than you.

Naturally, this is annoying. No one disagrees with you there. However you don’t have to let it ruin your time with your girlfriend or her family. Rather than think things like “ugh that guy is such a jerk!” or “doesn’t he have any decency?” you can think things like “there he goes again trying to get a rise out of me. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder why he feels so threatened by me.”

Pretend that you are an archeologist studying a foreign species and approach the situation with wonder and interest rather than anger. If you have no expectations of how someone “should” act, you can allow yourself to become unattached to the outcome.

When you are unattached to the outcome and let go of the way you think things should be, you will feel more entertained and curious when interacting with the difficult family member and your anger will dissipate.

Figuring out how to get along with your in-laws or your partner’s family is much more pleasant when you focus on enjoying the company of the people you do like vs worrying about the ones you don’t.

The reality is, there is almost always going to be someone you don’t like in your spouse’s family, at work, and pretty much everywhere else you go. Learning how to disconnect from your expectations and enjoy yourself regardless of who is around is a skill that will serve you well everywhere you go.

A couple decorates the Christmas tree while discussing how to get along with your in-laws

Opt Out

Just because these are the holidays, does not mean that you have to say yes to every family outing that you are invited to. It’s okay to skip some get togethers if you are feeling overwhelmed. By taking care of your needs, you are making yourself a more giving partner to your loved one, and isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Did you find this article helpful? I bet your friends would too! Use the social media share buttons below to spread the knowledge.

Still, be careful not to pressure your partner to opt-out along with you if they want to be with their family. There’s a difference between prioritizing your needs and causing a divide with your partner’s family. If your ultimate goal is to figure out how to get along with your in-laws, asking your partner not to see them is certainly not going to help.

Need Help Navigating How to Get Along with Your In-Laws?

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, it’s nearly impossible to get along with our partner’s family. Perhaps there are challenges between your partner and their family that preceded your role in the dynamic. Maybe there are situations in your own childhood that make family relationships difficult for you.

If you follow the tips outlined in this post and still struggle with getting along with family this holiday season, it may be time to seek some professional help. 

With both online individual therapy and online couples therapy options available, Couples Learn can help you determine the issues at play in your family (and in-law) relationships and find new ways to understand and handle the issues at play.

Want more help getting along with your partner’s family? Contact Couples Learn to book a free 30-minute consultation and get started today.

How To Stop Being Too Nice In A Relationship. Why Nice Guys Finish Last.

How To Stop Being Too Nice In A Relationship. Why Nice Guys Finish Last.

How To Stop Being Too Nice In A Relationship. Why Nice Guys Finish Last

Most of us have been taught the importance of being nice to others. We strive to follow “The Golden Rule,” of treating others as we wish to be treated. We try to be helpful, supportive, and positive to those around us. But is it possible you’re being too nice in a relationship?

Consider these questions. Are there times when you are being nice just so others will like you? Do you sometimes hide your true feelings in your search for acceptance from friends and loved ones?

You may not even realize you are doing this half the time because you have been so accustomed to ignoring your own boundaries and intuition, that you trick yourself into thinking you DO want what they do. If this sounds like you, we need to have a little chat about boundaries and assertiveness and help you figure out how to stop being too nice in a relationship.

Of course, there are times when we are genuinely nice to other people AND that aligns with our true desires and intentions. We give a compliment or we offer to take a friend’s dog for a walk when said friend is sick with the flu. Yet, most of us have also experienced times when we’ve wanted to say “no,” but said “yes” or lied to someone to avoid hurting his or her feelings.

White lies aren’t so bad, right? Well, that’s debatable and it depends on your true intention behind the white lie. When we lie to someone to avoid hurting him or her, in many instances, we stop being nice and start being self-serving. I know this sounds backward but let me clarify.

When we lie to make someone happy, we are often more interested in how we look to the person than in trying to have a genuine interaction with them. We aren’t acting out of real care or concern for our loved one and are actually trying to protect our own image.

In other words, being nice to please others – including being too nice in a relationship -comes with some major downfalls.

Is Being Too Nice In A Relationship A Bad Thing?

Trying too hard to be nice doesn’t allow you to make your own choices. Instead, you follow the lead of others and do what other people want you to do. Because of this, you become disconnected from your own dreams, wishes and desires and your life ends up being about what others want, instead of what you want.

An extreme (but very common) example of people-pleasing, is choosing a career path your parents want you to pursue rather than doing what you really want to do. Another example might be staying in an unhealthy relationship way past its expiration date because you feel bad hurting your partner or leaving them during a hard time they are going through. This is one of the signs of a codependent relationship. Or perhaps you agree to go to a restaurant that you really don’t like rather than telling your friends you aren’t a fan and making it more difficult for the group.

Regardless of how big or small the sacrifice, you lose a little piece of yourself every time you try to be nice at the expense of what you really want.

How to Stop Being Too Nice in A Relationship

Are you tired of being too accommodating in a relationship? Are you wondering how to stop being too nice to your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse or partner? For most people, the key is to practice being more assertive in a relationship.

Speaking Your Mind In A Relationship

Constantly trying to please others leads to superficial relationships that only exist on a surface level. They don’t have the depth that true partnerships need to succeed because you never let them see the real you. Trying to be who someone else wants you to be, causes you to lose who you really are, and this takes away your ability to feel your true feelings.

This can lead to you feeling lost and alone, which is exactly what you were trying to avoid by being nice in the first place!

Being Too Nice In A Relationship

People cannot respect you or truly connect with you if you are fake with them. Always saying “yes” to someone will eventually cause that person to look down on you or feel like you aren’t being honest with them. In order for a healthy relationship to exist, both people have to be honest about what their needs and wants are, and it can’t be one-sided.

Being Assertive In A Relationship

Being fake or being a people pleaser in relationships also leads to them ending somewhat abruptly, often around the 3 to 6 month mark. If you have had a string of relationships that start out hot and heavy and then end unexpectedly just as you start to let your guard down, this is a good indicator that you might be acting acting too nice in a relationship.

The reason your partners leave as soon as you get comfortable and let your guard down is because the real you starts to come out once you feel comfortable. Now it’s important to recognize this does not mean the real you isn’t lovable! I promise you are. It’s just that you entered into this relationship under false pretenses and the person you truly are, is not the person your partner signed up to be with.

Had you been your authentic self from the get-go, you could’ve saved yourselves both time and heartbreak because one or both of you would have realized it’s not a great match before getting too invested.

Though it’s scary to put your true self (flaws and all) out there and face rejection, it’s easier if you realize that somebody’s opinion of you does not determine your worth. Just because you aren’t a good fit for somebody (or vice versa) does not mean you or they are not worthy of love. It just means that particular relationship wasn’t a good fit. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea!

Being Assertive In A Relationship

Just as others can’t respect you if you are constantly saying “yes” to them, you also can’t hold true feelings for someone when you are not being your true self with them. If you are constantly afraid that saying “no” to someone will make them stop loving you, then you aren’t in a healthy relationship; you are in a fake one.

I realize some of what I have said here might sound harsh. Believe me, I understand wanting others to like or love you. Still, I believe that you deserve to be loved for who you are, not for who you are pretending to be. I promise, being in a relationship as your true self is way more rewarding than being too nice in a relationship.

How To Stop Being Too Nice in a Relationship By Being Assertive

speak your mind in a relationship

So, let’s say I’ve convinced you that being nice isn’t always the answer. Okay, then what is the answer?

Well, if you’ve ever been within spitting distance of a therapist or self-help book, you’ve probably heard the answer. It’s assertiveness. Still, do you really know what that means? It’s okay if you don’t. Many people confuse assertiveness with “being rude” or “getting what you want.” The truth is, it’s neither of those things.

How To Be Assertive In A Relationship

Psychologists believe that assertiveness is a teachable social skill and that it’s very important to be assertive in relationships. In fact, research has proven that higher levels of assertiveness are linked to higher levels of happiness in a relationship so this isn’t just opinion; it’s facts.

Being assertive means that you stand up for yourself and speak your mind but without being rude or aggressive toward anyone else. It also means that you clearly state your opinions, goals, values, and boundaries without becoming angry or withdrawn.

While being assertive, you may try to influence another person’s opinion, but you wouldn’t disrespect or be mean to that person while doing so. That’s just flat out aggression and is nowhere near as effective as assertiveness (unless your goal is to scare and alienate others.)

Learning To Be Assertive In Relationships

The biggest reason that so many people struggle with being assertive – and being too nice in a relationship – comes down to low self-esteem. If you don’t feel good about yourself from the inside, then you look to others to fill that void. You want everyone around you to like you, and because of that, you will hold back from saying what you really mean, or how you truly feel about things.

Whether you are outright lying, or just withholding the truth, keeping things to yourself because you are afraid of how others will react is bad for your relationships. You aren’t giving people the opportunity to know the real you, and that’s a shame!

Another reason that some people find it hard to be assertive, is that they judge themselves too harshly. If you are constantly trying to be perfect and always say the right thing, then you might stop yourself from sharing your true feelings and opinions. You might tell yourself that your opinion is “stupid,” or “wrong,” and silence yourself. Again, this is sad for your relationships with others because other people don’t get to hear your wonderful and unique ideas.

Assertive Communication In Relationships

One of the best things about assertiveness is that it can be learned! This means that even if you don’t think you have it mastered right now, it’s okay! We can work on it!

First, we would work on your self-esteem or the way that you value yourself. By helping you to see that your opinions, thoughts, and feelings have worth, you would have an easier time expressing them directly with others.

Next, and this one may come as a surprise, we would help you value others more. Think about it, if you aren’t sharing your true self with someone, do you really care about that person? If you can’t tell your friend that you were hurt when she didn’t come to your birthday party, are you really committed to repairing the rupture and being her friend? Real relationships require honesty, and you have to care enough about the other person to be willing to be honest.

Assertive Communication In Relationships

Finally, we would help you build courage. Remember the cowardly lion in “The Wizard of Oz?” He knew how important it was to have courage! Courage allows you to do what you need to do, even when you are afraid. It allows you to feel the fear and do it anyway. It allows you to truly stop being too nice in a relationship.

That means that you might not want to bring up a controversial topic, or tell someone that they hurt you, but you do it anyway because you know that you are strong enough to handle whatever happens next. That’s the kind of courage that helps you, your relationships, and ultimately the whole world!

Examples Of Being Assertive In A Relationship

Alright, now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. I’m going to teach you a foolproof way of making an assertive statement so you can stop being too nice in a relationship once and for all. 

The recipe for this kind of statement looks like this:

Use “I” Statements – Speak from the first person about how you feel. This helps to lessen the defenses of the person you are talking to.

Describe Specific Behaviors That You Find Problematic – Instead of criticizing the person, you are criticizing his behavior. Again, this helps to lessen the chances that he or she will feel attacked and attack you back.

Put It All Together – Use the “I feel _______ when you _______” sentence structure.

Let’s look at an example of how this recipe works. Say your boyfriend has a habit of picking up his phone when the two of you are out on dates and it really bothers you. You might want to say something like, “You always ignore me! Why are we even together?!”, but that is probably more aggressive than assertive. An assertive statement would look like this:

“I feel ignored when you answer your phone during dinner.”

Then, you might add a request, like:

“Could we please make dinner a phone-free zone? It would make me feel so much more loved and like a priority that way.”

Does this sound like something that you could do? If it sounds hard to you, that’s ok. There are many ways to practice assertiveness and other options to get help with being too nice in a relationship.

Get Help To Stop Being Too Nice in a Relationship

Often, being too nice in a relationship is a sign of a deeper insecurity. It may stem from our attachment style or from experiences we had in childhood. Being too accommodating in a relationship may also be a sign of low self esteem or codependency in relationships.

No matter what is at the root of your struggles to be assertive in a relationship or set healthy boundaries, there are ways to get help. One of the best options is to consider therapy. 

There are many options available for therapy today, both in person and online. At Couples Learn, we offer online therapy for individuals and couples. Individual therapy for relationship issues may be a good place to start if you’re struggling with being too nice. If this is just one of several issues in your relationship, however, and your partner is open to it, couples therapy could also help you and your partner set healthier boundaries and build a stronger partnership.

No matter what path you decide to take, Couples Learn is ready to support you in gradually learning and integrating assertiveness into your life. Book a free 30 min consultation to get started today!

Venting About Your Relationship: Helpful or Harmful?

Venting About Your Relationship: Helpful or Harmful?

Imagine this: your spouse or partner does something that really makes you angry. What is your next move? Well, hopefully you talk to your partner about it. But if you’re like a lot of people, you may also start venting to friends about relationship troubles.

Venting about your relationship is a common way of coping with anger, resentment or even simple annoyances. But is it ok to vent to your friends about your relationship? That’s exactly what we’re going to explore today.

While complaining in a relationship is normal, venting to friends is typically more common among women. One thing that makes female friendships different from male friendships is that females tend to talk about everything

While men are more likely to bond over watching sports or playing video-games, women bond by discussing thoughts, feelings, and actions we took in response to our thoughts or feelings.

So, given that women share the inner workings of their minds with each other, it’s only natural that relationship talk will become part of the conversation with close friends. 

The question is, how much relationship talk, if any, is healthy for your relationship? Can venting to friends about relationship issues actually make those issues worse? Let’s dig into this question a little further.

Is Venting to Friends About Relationship Issues Bad?

On the one hand, it’s wonderful to have people to vent or gush to about your relationship, especially if you’ve been spending all of your time with your significant other.

Having an outside perspective when dealing with relationship issues can be extremely helpful, and since it’s your friend, she will probably have your back.

Still, there are dangers to spilling about your latest lover’s quarrel, and there’s definitely such a thing as complaining too much in a relationship. And when venting becomes toxic, it has the potential to do more harm than good.

So, how much is too much when it comes to venting to friends about relationship challenges? Here’s some things to consider.

4 Things to Consider Before Venting to Friends About Relationship Issues

Two women sitting on a couch and venting to friends about relationship issues.

1. The Jury Is Stacked

Your friends will probably be on your side regardless of what happened between you and your partner. While it is always nice to feel validated, that is not always the most helpful thing, especially if you are in the wrong. 

Sure, you probably have that one friend that always tells you the truth even when it’s hard to hear, but when you are angry, she’s probably not the one you’ll go to when you’re venting to friends about relationship challenges. Am I right? 

Instead, you’ll most likely opt for the friend who will tell you how horrible he is, and how angelic you are. While this is nice to hear, it might not be great for the future of your relationship. 

If you truly want to repair your relationship and heal whatever hurt has been done, consider how unconditional validation of your anger might make that harder.

2. The Plot Is Skewed

Without even realizing it, you will probably end up telling more of the bad stuff about your relationship to your friends than the good. Maybe you don’t want to feel like you are bragging or make them jealous by sharing all of his sweet gestures. Or perhaps you simply consider his loving texts and gestures private.

But when venting about your spouse or partner becomes the bulk of what you share about your relationship, you are painting a skewed picture of your partner. 

This can make it hard for your friends to forgive him or see him in a positive light when the two of you make up. You may even find that your friends remember his flaws long after you’ve forgotten why you were fighting in the first place!

Unfortunately, venting to friends about relationship issues can lead to trouble between you and your friends down the road or awkward feelings between your friends and your partner. 

You want your friends to like your partner and they do too! So think twice before you tell them every negative and annoying quality he has.

3. Advice Is Easier Said Than Taken

Well-meaning friends want the best for you and they hate to see you hurt. As such, they might be quick to tell you to break-up with your love to avoid pain and heartache – especially if you’ve been doing a lot of venting about your relationship. 

Clearly, that’s easier said than done and they aren’t the ones that will have to deal with the consequences of that decision. Only you can decide what the best course of action is, and that’s best achieved when you have calmed down and had a rational discussion with your partner (not your friends).

4. Is All Fair In Love And War?

Regardless of how angry you are with your partner right now, you still want to act in a way that you can be proud of in the morning. Will you be happy with yourself if you share all of his shortcomings with your friends? Would you be okay if he did the same to you? 

Part of being in an adult relationship means showing respect for your partner, even when you are angry with each other. Sometimes, that means venting to friends about relationship challenges is not always the best idea.

Two women sit on the grass outside venting to friends about relationship challenges.

What To Do When Venting Becomes Toxic

Are you worried you might be venting about your relationship a little too much now that you know how complaining affects relationships? Even if you want to vent less, it can be hard to know what to do instead.

After all, you have to talk to someone when you are fighting with your boo because how are you supposed to make any decisions without outside input? 

First and foremost, learn to look within and trust your intuition. You are the expert on you but sometimes you need some help turning up the volume on that little wise voice that resides within you. 

Second, there is someone that you can vent to with wild abandon without having to worry about the consequences…a therapist!

Whether you try couples counseling or individual therapy for relationship issues, talking to a therapist about your partner is not the same as venting to friends about relationship issues.

Your therapist has no personal stake or connection to your partner or the outcome of your relationship. 

Instead, a good therapist will help you connect with your intuition to figure out what you really want – and then help you communicate those needs with your partner. All the more reason to reach out to a skilled therapist today 😉

If you’re ready to stop venting about your relationship and start doing something constructive with that anger or hurt, then contact Couples Learn to explore our online therapy services.

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