One of the first questions couples ask after all of the introductions have been done and paperwork completed is: “Are we normal?” I usually wait for it, because I know at some point one or both will ask the question. The question comes loaded with fear, worry, and dread that there is something terribly wrong within the relationship. Sometimes, I think couples ask because they are expecting me to say “you are beyond repair” or “run for your life.”
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with couples at various stages in their relationships. There are moments over the course of a marriage when couples might seek therapy. Most people think therapy is mainly needed when they are on the brink of divorce. While this may be true in some cases, it is also common for couples to seek therapy at times when divorce isn’t even a thought. they simply need clarity or want to improve certain aspects of the relationship.
Couples reach out for support before marriage, shortly after the wedding, prior to growing their family, while trying to get pregnant, after the first, second or third child is born, after the first child starts preschool or the last graduates from college, just to name a few. All of these are pivotal moments in the family life cycle. All of these moments have one very important thing in common – change.
All couples experience some type of change or transition that requires adjustment. Adjustments can be difficult to manage because sometimes that means you have to accept that something isn’t working for you. Even though it may feel taxing, it’s actually great because this is where growth happens! This is typically the moment when couples decide to find a therapist.
Therapy offers a space where you can express your concerns, thoughts, and feelings happening in your relationship. I recognize that change is difficult, and I provide an opportunity for couples to come together and decide how they want to handle change…together.
So, when you make the decision to begin therapy, and you ask that question, “Are we normal?”, I will help you identify the experiences that brought you to therapy and say simply, it is very normal. Life is normal, and you are experiencing life. All couples have a point of transition where what was, is no longer. Therapy helps people, and couples, navigate those transitions. It is very healthy to seek a therapist in order to gain additional support.