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Why Most Couples Wait 6 Years to Seek Couples Therapy

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Couples therapy is a healthy process that can save couples years of heartache, and in some cases, can save the relationship itself. Unfortunately, while some couples seek therapy soon after they begin to have problems in the relationship, other couples wait for years. Often too many. We find that the average length of time that these unhappy couples wait to seek couples therapy is about 6 years!

Studies show the short and long-term effectiveness of counseling, indicating that waiting this long can have a detrimental effect on your relationship and can even compromise your ability to reach a resolution. The longer any couple waits, the more you risk letting resentment build up, making it harder to undo. 

Knowing why couples wait so long to seek out help and when a better time is to get help might save your relationship. This way, you can avoid making the same mistakes and ensure a happier life together far into the future.

Why Do Couples Wait So Long to Seek Couples Therapy?

There’s not one single reason that couples wait so long to get help. Here are some common reasons couples name for delaying on seeking couples therapy.

Looking for the Problem in the Wrong Place

Some couples seek to find the cause of their problems by seeking one-on-one therapy before couples therapy. Often in these cases, the individuals in the relationship assume the problem lies with them. Seeking individual help first can delay or even eliminate any hope of fixing the relationship, as individual therapy often does not address problems being experienced by the couple.


Some couples simply feel some level of embarrassment or shyness when they think of themselves seeking couples therapy. While they may not have a problem with other couples seeking couples therapy they have a hard time envisioning themselves doing it. They wait a long time to get help because they must first overcome their embarrassment.


In some cases, people wait to seek couples therapy because they’re afraid that the experience could be painful or difficult. Facing the problem head-on in therapy can be hard work, and in fact can undo some aspects of the relationship that members of the relationship has grown accustomed to. This makes the experience of getting therapy to be scary, and sometimes can lead the couple to wait.

Ego & Underestimating the Problem

Sometimes couples wait before getting therapy because they believe they should be able to fix the problem on their own. These couples often start with DIY solutions. They may read books, listen to podcasts, or try to reason through problems on their own. These solutions rarely work, because many couples need the benefit of an objective perspective from someone outside the relationship.

After all, it’s hard to take a fair and unbiased approach when you’re having a problem with someone else you’re close to.

When Is the Right Time to Seek Couples Therapy?

Research indicates that almost everyone can benefit from seeking couples therapy – even couples who are relatively happy. Seeing a relationship coach or therapist makes it easier to work through problems. Working through problems when they’re small makes it less likely that they will become larger ones later–like cancer is easier to cure when you spot it early enough. 

So don’t let fear, pride, embarrassment, or wrong thinking deter you from getting timely help! I often warn couples that there is a window of time in which repair and reconciliation are possible for your relationship. But if you wait too long to act, you may find that time has run out!

Ready to Act? Start With Kairos

Learn more about how you can benefit from relationship coaching. Schedule a free consultation with Kairos today.