Couples often ask me if there is anything that I recommend they do immediately after a couples counseling session. Here are the ideas that I recommend:
Keep talking about what we were discussing in session. If the conversation is flowing and feels helpful, then go for it! Often some of your best couples work can be done through dynamic discussion between you outside of my office. Besides, the goal is to create more communication in your relationship and if you find that this time is created for you and your partner right after counseling, take advantage of that moment.
For others, what was discussed during session leaves them with a lot to think on and consider. Finding a way to stay connected (i.e. holding hands, cuddling, going for a walk, reading a book in the same room), and taking some time for self-reflection is a great way to spend your time right after counseling. It can take awhile for our brain to process through everything, so give it the space and time it needs.
Sometimes, after couple’s sessions with our partner we need a little personal space. This is healthy and can be very recharging. Take a little “you” time away from your partner and engage in an activity that you enjoy and give you some space. Couples counseling is hard work and wanting or needing a bit of a break afterwards is normal.
Couples counseling is a process of putting an incredible amount of time and energy into improving and growing your relationship with your partner. Often there is a great deal of conflict that is brought up and worked on during sessions together and it can be really helpful to plan a fun outing after appointments to give you and your partner a reward for all the hard work you’re both doing. Enjoying yourselves as a couple will feel recharging and give you hope and connection in your relationship.
It is important to keep in mind that the only “right” way for you and your partner to go about this process is the one that is “right” for the both of you. Everyone is different, and everyone’s process is different. The only rule I have about what NOT to do after a couples session is what I refer to as “stirring the pot.” By this I mean, don’t dwell, nag, punish or argue about things that were discussed during our session together. If you aren’t having a positive and productive conversation, than don’t have it. Punishing your partner for something they shared during session or giving them the “cold shoulder” is not helpful or productive.