The Date That Every Couple Should Go on But No One Wants to Talk About…
Seated next to one another, you stare into your partner’s eyes. With the clock in your peripherals, you anxiously await your next step. At approximately 7:32 PM, you’re invited inside the cozy room with salt lamps and serenity candles and instructed to sit on the just-comfy-enough Ikea couch. “So how are you doing since we last met?” she inquires.
The wistful exchange fades into one of uncertainty, marked by physical distance and crossed limbs. You bite your bottom lip as you hesitantly share what you think is your status, in hopes that your partner feels similarly. “I think things are…better?” An almost immediate gaze at your partner signals, to your relief, a recognition of agreement through a simple head nod. Things are better, you silently repeat to yourself. Now, your session can begin.
Couples therapy is often misinterpreted as a last resort for couples to salvage whatever remains of their relationship. Thus, couples tend to seek professional guidance when it may be too late. Patterns become ritual. Passion that you once reserved for the bedroom is channeled into aggression towards your partner for not taking out the garbage (again). Pressure is wrongly placed upon the therapist to piece back a relationship that once was, when the therapist’s role is merely to guide conversation and mediate a safe space for discussion, whether that warrants a relationship’s repair or ending is up to partners to decide.
Seeking a couple’s therapist is not an indication of weakness, a sexless relationship, or a loss of love.
It’s a means to check-in, with yourself, your partner(s), and your relationship. My partner and I embarked upon our couple’s therapy journey in late September. After nearly six months of living together, our relationship dynamic had shifted, and it was time for a check-up. Just as we schedule routine appointments for our health and well-being, our relationships and mental health deserve the same care as our physical bodies.
As an aspiring sex and relationship therapist, I believe that every couple should spend time with a couple’s therapist throughout their relationship tenure, ideally before marriage. These mediated conversations offer opportunities to gauge where you are as a couple, the direction you see yourselves headed—individually and together, and what you both could improve upon to maintain your relationship’s success as you embark upon new life adventures.
Society is obsessed with talking about others’ relationships—who is dating who, how long they’ve dated, if they’re engaged, divorced, or rekindling an old flame. The relationships that we’re hesitant to evaluate, and the one that we really need to discuss, are our own.
Here at The Coupled, we completely agree with Emily and recommend continuing the date after your session. You made the time already (you got out of work, you have a babysitter, etc.), so keep it going! Here’s a few fun ideas:
-Take a walk together and continue the conversation. Oftentimes, therapy brings up multiple topics and you’re not going to cover everything in an hour and walking and talking about things or future goals is great.
-Play a sport or go workout together. You’ve been sitting around and may want to get active. Play a game and make a bet! Winner gets a massage or …
-Therapy is often a more serious conversation. You have put in the work needed for an exceptional relationship. Now, maybe you’re feeling like some more playful and carefree fun together. Go to an amusement park, ride bikes, play miniature golf.
-Hot sex?! If you’re using therapy as a preventative/connection tool (not a last-resort) you often feel closer after therapy so it’s a great time for intimacy. And you’ll both be looking forward to the next session!