| June 6, 2012

Often, couples therapy carries a negative stigma, preventing many from reaping its benefits. But there are plenty of reasons couples go to therapy outside the threat of splitting up. We spoke with Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a marriage therapist in New York City, who gave us six common reasons she sees couples who are seeking to improve their relationship.

In-laws: Maybe there is a problem with the mother-in-law, or the in-laws have moved into the home, and the couple needs help negotiating how to deal with it.

Parenting: I often see couples who have young children — their first child is two and they are expecting a second child. They are feeling overwhelmed and want to reconnect. The other scenario I see is when a couple has divergent parenting styles. One is more strict and the other is more lenient and they’re not getting along over that. We’ll explore why they parent the way they do and help them come to agreements.

Finances: This is one of the top reasons why couples break up. Someone’s a saver; someone’s a spender — this is where the couple runs into financial trouble. The wife wants to plan finances and the husband thinks she’s being too controlling about the money.

Religion: Nowadays, more and more couples come from different religious backgrounds and this is usually addressed early on. Problems occur when someone changes the contract — maybe one becomes more religious after children and the other doesn’t. One is saying, ‘How can I bring children up in church when you won’t join me?’

Sickness or tragedy: For some, a trauma can bring couples together, and for others, it can create a wedge. Everyone deals with sadness and fear differently. Some people aren’t able to be good care givers, which can build resentment.

Work/life balance: Couples come to me with difficulties over their roles in their relationship. Maybe the wife is a stay-at-home mom and she wants her husband to do more around the house or with the kids on the weekend. The husband is tired from working all week and he feels like he should have some time off. Or, maybe a working mom is feeling overworked because she is working and doing all the household chores.