When Is The Right Time For Couples Therapy?
Deciding on individual therapy is simple. You pursue it when you're ready no matter how long it takes for you to decide.
Deciding on couples therapy for you and your partner, on the other hand, can be complicated if you factor in possible assumptions about therapy and your or your partner's sense of privacy about the relationship. Because it takes two to make this decision, pursuing couples therapy makes sense when both of you are at least willing to give it a try. But what would make you and your partner get to the point of seeking couples therapy?
It starts with an issue between you and your partner that cannot get resolved. Since there are plenty of issues that fall into this category for a couple, the unresolved issue has an emotional impact on one or both partners either because of the nature of the issue or because this issue cannot be resolved. An example of the latter is if one partner comes from a family in which issues get resolved while the other partner's family of origin never did.
When a couple discusses, argues, debates or reaches an impasse on the issue that they cannot resolve, they may just try again after taking a break or until the issue comes up again. The second attempt may escalate the partners' emotions and after the third attempt, both partners may realize something is not right.
After three tries, I recommend acknowledging to your partner the attempts to resolve the issue ("We've both tried") and explain how important it is to nip the issue in the bud by suggesting couples therapy to prevent this unresolved issue from causing any future resentment or hostility.
By broaching couples therapy, this is your way of showing to your partner how much this relationship matters to you.
For whatever reason(s) pursuing couples therapy is delayed, it's possible that the issue can make the relationship feel uncomfortable and stressful. You may end up tip-toeing around each other and steering away from conversational topics related to the unresolved issue. In other words, the issue can grow into the elephant in the room and further delays would be like feeding this elephant.