By Jonathan Merker:
Short answer: Sooner than you think!
Long answer: There's a stereotype that going to couples counseling is "paying a lot of money to break up." Couples often treat counseling as a last-ditch effort, when one or both members of the relationship already have one foot out the door. By contrast, when couples come to counseling before the relationship becomes intolerable, there is a lot more time and space for counseling to work. Counseling isn’t a pill like antibiotics that makes an illness go away. It’s a process that helps replace harmful patterns with helpful ones.
When is the right time? If there’s any one notable issue in your relationship, it is worth it to go to counseling to address it. It will probably take no more than 3 sessions. Your relationship will likely become far more intimate in addition to that one issue being resolved.
What happens if you wait? You could go when you have two issues. Or three. Or four. But, the more problems in your relationship, the more your relationship suffers. This brings you closer to that unpleasant and often painful point of no return, when some earlier due-diligence could have prevented that turmoil.
The most common thing I see gay couples ignore is a change in sexual expression. Our relationships start with fervent sexual passion, but this level of passion is often unsustainable. It requires putting in the work of maintaining a vulnerable and authentic connection. For a culture stereotypically obsessed with sex, gay couples seem to choose excuses instead of addressing sexuality head on. As time goes by, other relationship issues present themselves and the motivation to fix them is lacking. If I could say one thing to every gay couple it would be this: pay attention to your relationship’s sexual health. Be proactive and don’t let it dwindle.