It's been a long time coming but I think it's finally time that I make a stand about couples counseling.

If people are telling couples that their problems will be over when they discover the source of their conflict and eliminate it -- I believe they are wrong.

I'm not sure exactly what pushed me over the edge on this.

Maybe it's the over twenty years of watching couples come through my door and say their marriage must be over because they no longer "get along."

Come to find out, they are just experiencing the conflict that they should have known was coming when they decided to commit to live out their lives with one very different person.

Or, maybe it was one of the endless string of TV commercials for dating sites that promise to scientifically match you with your soul mate.

All the couples so matched appear in commercials saying they have never felt so compatible with anyone in their lives and their smiles seem to have no end.

I'm willing to bet that some day one of those 'compatible' couples will come through my door saying their marriage is over because they no longer 'get along!'

This 'conflict free' marriage concept may just be a reflection of a society that somehow thinks life can be lived free of pain -- as long as you take the right pill or eat the right foods.

But, I think not. I think this idea of conflict elimination as the key to relationship happiness has been around for a long time.

But, as a professional couples therapist, it is so very clear to me that eliminating conflict is destroying one of the greatest gifts a relationship can have -- a chance to understand and be understood, a chance to be happy instead of right, a chance to be accepted and honored for who you really are.

I'm not going to lobby Congress for a "Truth in Relationships Act" or anything like that.

But I am going to urge people seeking marriage or couples counseling -- and those who will counsel them -- to just get real.

More couples will be harmed by denying the existence -- no -- the importance of conflict in a relationship than will ever be harmed by conflict.

Two very different people come together in a relationship because of a natural attraction -- and because their differences will reveal to each partner their better self.

If they know it's coming and if they are prepared to see conflict as what it is -- the natural friction caused by two distinct individuals rubbing their lives together.

It's going to take a long while to prevent what I see every day -- couples coming into my office so separated by their misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of conflict that they really do have to struggle to get back enough balance to start from square one.

And square one is this. I see it from now on as a warning label that comes with every budding relationship...


And, perhaps, just underneath we should add...

"Conflicts may appear larger than they really are!"

But, it's time... time to say that love is real -- and love comes with conflict.

Author's Bio: 

Rhonda Audia is a trained couples therapist who has been practicing in the Cincinnati area for over 20 years. She is the founder and director of the "Guru for Two Couples Counseling Center."