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Couples Therapy Questions: What to Ask and Expect
Relationship Advice

Couples Therapy Questions: What to Ask and Expect

Not sure how couples therapy works? Here's an overview of what to expect and what questions to ask during your next (or first) couples counseling or marriage counseling session.

Sadia Maqsood
July 30, 2022

Are you contemplating whether or not to go into couples therapy? Maybe you’ve decided to go for it, but you’re not sure what to expect. This article will answer any questions you may have in mind about couples therapy.

When you decide to get into a relationship, it’s inevitable that you will experience challenges, setbacks, and friction on your journey together. Couples counseling, marriage counseling, or premarital counseling addresses any doubts, assumptions, and fears you may have about your partner and can help you set the ground for a healthy and fulfilling relationship ahead.

How do we know we need couples therapy?

The purpose of couples therapy is to help you understand your relationship, work through its challenges, resolve conflicts, and create space for a healthier relationship. According to Linda Carroll, LMFT, couples therapy is about helping couples "get unstuck from painful dynamics that keep getting repeated."

Couples can seek help from a professional for various reasons such as affair recovery, dissatisfaction with sex and other intimacy issues, feeling unloved in the relationship, conflicts, financial strains, and issues in communication. 

Simply put, if you feel stuck in your relationship, you keep having conflicts without resolution, or feel that nothing is working despite putting in the effort, it might be time to see a couples counselor. With that said, healthy couples can also benefit from couples therapy if they want to make their relationship better. 

What is couples therapy like?

In couples therapy, your therapist acts as a mediator or neutral party that helps each partner see the issue with a realistic lens and get to the bottom of it.

Your therapist will conduct several sessions with you and your partner together. Typically, each session is about an hour long, but this is negotiable based on you and your therapist’s schedule.

In the first session, your therapist will gather background information and scratch the surface of your relationship. In the second and third sessions, your therapist might want to talk to each of you individually. 

In subsequent sessions, they can bring the two of you together to observe your patterns and communication styles.

If I’m already seeing a therapist individually, can I bring my partner to them for couples therapy?

This is not recommended and most therapists refrain from this. Once your therapist sees you first, they become biased. In other words, they lean more towards your side. For this reason, they’re not able to act as an unbiased third party in couples therapy. 

How do we choose the right couples therapist?

Choosing a couples therapist is more challenging than choosing a personal therapist. This is because in the former case, you’re putting your entire relationship at stake. Picking the wrong one can do your relationship more harm than good.

Here are some questions you should ask when evaluating couples therapists. 

  1. What’s your professional training?

If a therapist has been in a relationship, that doesn’t make them qualified to become a couples therapist. A qualified therapist draws from scientifically-backed theories in psychology such as the Gottman Method, PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy), and Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT)

  1. For how many years have you been practicing as a couples therapist?

While the number of years of practice is not directly proportionate to the quality and experience of therapy, it’s sensible to pick someone who has substantial experience in counseling work specific to couples.

  1. What are your views on romantic relationships?

Your therapist will have their own perspective of romantic relationships too, and that will influence how they approach therapy. Choose a couples therapist whose values on romantic relationships align with yours. 

For example, if you’re an LGBTQ couple, you want a therapist that supports the LGBTQ community, not someone who has conservative beliefs. Similarly, if you’re a devout Chrisitian, you’ll work best with a therapist whose therapeutic style draws from Christianity. 

What questions do they ask in couples therapy?

Once you’ve chosen the right therapist, the next step is to know what to expect in a couples or marriage counseling session. Below is a list of questions that will make this experience less daunting. 

Questions you may be asked during your first session

In the first counseling session, your therapist will talk to you and your partner together to get an idea about your relationship. Here are some questions they can ask:

  1. How long have you two been together?
  2. Why did you feel the need to seek professional help?
  3. Have you ever seen a couples therapist?
  4. What are some things you have tried to improve your relationship with your spouse?
  5. What outcomes are you hoping to gain from couples therapy?
  6. How determined are you to change yourself to save your relationship?
  7. Tell me about the biggest problem in your relationship and when it started.
  8. What baggage and conflicts are you carrying from the past that need to be resolved?
  9. What made you two fall in love with each other?
  10. What good aspects and qualities do you contribute to the relationship?
  11. What comes to mind when you think about your relationship?

Other therapy questions your marriage counselor might ask you 

Your couples therapist understands that you might not feel safe or comfortable discussing things in your partner’s presence. That’s why they may want to conduct another individual counseling session with you and your partner separately. In that situation, those questions can sound something like this:

  1. What can your spouse do to make you feel loved and cared for?
  2. How do you want to divide household chores?
  3. How do you respond to tensions and conflict?
  4. What is your relationship like with your friends and coworkers?
  5. Do you feel you’re compatible in this marriage? How compatible do you feel?
  6. What makes marriage important to you?
  7. What are your thoughts about marriage and commitment?
  8. How would you describe betrayal and infidelity?
  9. How important is religion and spirituality in your life?
  10. What are your deal breakers in a marital relationship?
  11. Are you comfortable with your partner’s lifestyle choices such as their hobbies, sleeping and drinking habits, health and diet choices, and personal and professional goals?
  12. What boundaries do you want to establish with your spouse?
  13. Are you and your partner’s core values aligned?
  14. What does a happy marriage mean to you? 
  15. Name a thing or several things that you appreciate about your partner. 
  16. What are some things you really value in your relationship?
  17. How many children do you and your partner want? Are you both on the same page about this or not?
  18. What's your relationship like with your family?
  19. What's your relationship like with your partner’s family?
  20. What’s your partner’s relationship with your family?
  21. Have you discussed how you manage money and finances as a couple?
  22. Are you and your partner on the same page about saving and investing?
  23. How do you want to raise and educate your kids?
  24. What are your thoughts about intimacy and sex in your relationship?

20 relationship/marriage counseling questions to ask your partner in couples therapy 

In the final few couple therapy sessions, your therapist will invite you and your partner together again to resolve things. You’ll get the opportunity to ask your partner any questions that you previously didn’t feel comfortable or safe asking.

You might not know the right questions to ask your partner in a counseling session, so here’s a list of some important questions you can ask them: 

  1. What are your honest feelings about this relationship?
  2. What are some of the major issues we’re facing in our relationship?
  3. What of these issues are the most important to address?
  4. Are you contemplating divorce?
  5. Is our relationship going through a bad phase?
  6. Are you happy with the level of intimacy in our relationship? 
  7. What do you dislike most about me?
  8. Do you feel loved by me?
  9. Do you trust me completely?
  10. If you don’t, what can I do to gain your trust back?
  11. Is there anyone you’re seeing?
  12. Have you ever wanted to have an affair?
  13. Are you ready to make improvements on your part where required?
  14. Is there everything we’ve tried to make things work?
  15. What does our future together look like to you?
  16. Do you feel I’ve fully accepted you?
  17. Do you feel free to communicate everything with me openly? 
  18. What past issues do we need to resolve, if there are any?
  19. Why do you want to work things out at this point in our relationship?
  20. What are you hoping to gain from this relationship counseling?

Now that you have a complete list of couples counseling questions in hand, feel free to get in touch with a couples therapist and make the most out of your therapy session. Finding the right couples therapist and working with your partner to improve your relationship might turn out to be one of the best decisions you’ve made in your life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sadia Maqsood

Sadia Maqsood is a professional blogger, published author, and freelance writer with over 3 years of experience in writing about relationships, psychology, and self-improvement. She holds a degree in Psychology. Her work has appeared in Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, and top Medium.com publications. When she's not writing, she's immersed in true crime. She tweets @becomingsadia.

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