As a marriage counselor, I’ve worked with all types of couples. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. And after several sessions, I’ve seen the good turn to great, the bad turn to good and the ugly turn to surprisingly wonderful.

Relationships do not improve on their own. When things get tough, the husband and wife, the girlfriend and boyfriend, the fiancé and fiancée need to work together to make things better — to rebuild trust, to re-establish commitment, to forgive and to grow. It takes effort. And you may need the help of a couples therapist to guide you in your efforts of marital improvement.

You might already know that you could benefit from seeing a therapist (constant arguing is probably a good hint). But maybe you need a little help convincing your partner. Or maybe you need a little help convincing yourself that it’s time to find professional support.

This couple’s therapy quiz will show you whether or not your relationship could benefit from therapy. I definitely do not want you to stress over the results. Seeing a therapist is a perfectly healthy thing, and it can have such a positive impact on your relationship.

In your relationship, you consider money…

A. An issue we talk a lot about, making compromises and having discussions.
B. A topic we’ve stopped talking about because of past disagreements. If we don’t talk about it, it’s not a problem, right?
C. A fire-starter. When money is the topic, you prepare for yelling.

When’s the last time you and your partner had sex?
A. Recently!
B. It’s been a couple of weeks, I think. We are so busy.
C. I don’t remember.

If your relationship was a movie, it’d be called…
A. True Romance
B. Crazy, Stupid, Love
C. Fight Club

When you are feeling sad, your partner…
A. Listens to your problems, supports you and helps you find a solution to your issue.
B. Tells a joke and makes you laugh.
C. Ignores your feelings. Now that you think about it, they may be the cause of your sadness.

If your relationship were ice cream, it’d be…
A. Rich Chocolate
B. Plain Vanilla
C. Rocky Road

When you see your partner texting repeatedly, you…
A. Think nothing of it. Everyone texts, and you trust him or her.
B. Ask your partner who they are texting. You can never be too careful.
C. Plan to check her/his phone at your first opportunity. You know something is up, and you know your partner’s track record.

Your relationship could be described as…
A. Lots of work with great pay-offs. We communicate, reciprocate and appreciate one another, and because of that we respect and trust each other.
B. Lots of ups and downs. We don’t put much effort into actively improving our relationship, but things are just fine right now.
C. Lots of drama. Probably has something to do with arguing, cheating, name-calling, etc.

Your goals as a couple would most likely include…
A. Continuing to work to be strong and happy.
B. Having fun and enjoying life.
C. Talking without having an argument.

When you have a disagreement with your partner, what usually happens?
A. We talk it out, listen to each other and then we usually find a solution or a compromise that is best for the whole family.
B. We argue for a while and then usually just drop it.
C. Profanity is used, voices are raised and names are called. We may eventually “make up.” but there is still resentment.

If you answered mostly A, you are a…

A Picture Perfect Pair: You are therapy free

Congrats, you have a healthy, strong relationship! That is definitely something to celebrate. It means you are both communicating about your wants and needs, and you have a marriage based upon friendship. When you do have a disagreement, you don’t call each other names or criticize; you discuss your points of view and strive to come up with a compromise.

You don’t go to bed angry, and you talk about your feelings (instead of internalizing your frustration or becoming passive aggressive). You understand that your partner has your best interest in mind, and they feel the same way about you. You and your partner give each other the benefit of the doubt and treat each other with respect. You value each other’s opinions and you both contribute to the relationship. You truly know and understand each other.

Next step? Keep the momentum going. Talk to each other daily about topics other than work, family and money, and continue to talk about your feelings and communication. You are doing great, and you just need to maintain your positivity and love.

If you answered mostly B, you are a…

A Laboring Union: Therapy can help you go from good to great

Sure, things are not in shambles in your house. There is love and there are plenty of good times. You probably see it as: Sometimes things are great, and sometimes things are not so good. You are definitely in need of some tweaking. You probably argue, and you do not really get anything resolved. You are likely quick to judge your partner, and neither of you really listen to each other’s viewpoints.

You may even allow anger or disagreements to continue for days, causing communication or connection to cease and resentment to breed. You let other people’s beliefs decide how you show up in the marriage (in-laws, friends, family). When you fight, you sometimes hit below the belt, call each other names and become mean.

With those arguments, insinuation and intrusiveness can run rampant, and it becomes difficult to recover (especially when you are newlyweds). Your conversation topics likely focus on surface issues: family, work, etc. You likely don’t discuss your wants, desires and goals, and you definitely do not have the difficult conversations about your needs and your problems.

Next step? You must change your perspectives on your relationship. You need to think about marriages as work — fun work, but yes, work. You must actually put effort into your partnership to ensure that it is strong and healthy. You need to stop sweeping things under the rug and stop hoping that you forget about all the elephants in the room. The elephants are not going to disappear by themselves. You have to drag them out of your home together, and you do that through commitment, respect and honesty. And that work is made a lot easier with the help of a couple’s therapist.

If you answered mostly C, you are a…

A Couple in Crisis: You need a therapy intervention

Something is definitely amiss in your relationship. Someone has broken the trust, someone is not feeling respected and someone — probably both of you — is not happy in your partnership. Things are crumbling fast and you may even be considering fleeing from the falling debris. You may feel like strangers to each other. Heck, you may not even be talking to each other.

You or your partner might have moved out, or maybe you’re talking about moving out. You struggle to have a conversation without arguing, and even seeing each other may bring up the contempt, bitterness and resentment that has been built during your marriage. There is cursing, name calling and possibly even abuse.

Next step?

Someone in your partnership needs to be the bigger person, and both of you need to decide whether you are ready to put in the work to stop your relationship from sinking. You need to stop the blame and ridicule. You may feel like your only option is divorce or separation, and that’s fine. But before you walk away, consider seeing a therapist like myself who can help you and your partner talk about your challenges, your issues and maybe even your good times.

Counseling can help you figure out whether it’s best to go your separate ways or whether you are both willing to fight for your marriage. The process will be difficult, but a good therapist will create a path to help you and your partner to mend and forgive.

If you want help improving all aspects of your relationship, you can contact me at (864) 559-8181 to schedule your appointment. I can help individuals and couples in the Greenville, SC area.

Truthfully yours,