Unfortunately most couples wait years before beginning counseling and your marriage might be in really bad shape by now. But in my experience, it is never too late to start working on your marriage and even the most troubled marriages can not only be saved, but can be turned into really great relationships.
All marriages have problems but many marriages have serious problems. While most marriages can benefit from marriage counseling, some marriages absolutely need it. Most couples hope they will stay married forever, however few people people will tolerate a bad relationship indefinitely. And who really wants to spend their life stuck in an unhappy marriage? Most people realize that counseling is time consuming, expensive, and only consider it when things get really bad. So how do you know when it is the right time to start?
Here are six signs that you need marriage counseling sooner rather than later. One or more of these signs indicate that your marriage is probably in serious trouble.
1. You feel alone
One of the wonderful things about marriage is that you get a best friend, sexual partner and helpmate all rolled into one. But when the love and intimacy fall away, you can be left with nothing. Human beings are wired for relationships and we need to feel close to our romantic partner to feel good about ourselves. Some feelings of loneliness are normal but constantly feeling alone, especially when you are with your partner, is a good indication that there are some deeper problems in the marriage.
2. Communication has broken down
Keeping thoughts and feelings to yourself is a good indication that you are hurt, harboring strong resentments, and have started pulling away emotionally from your partner. Not talking about problems inevitably makes them get worse. When you are not able to share what is on your mind, intimacy goes out the door.
Emotional intimacy is based on being able to share your innermost thoughts and feelings with your partner. For most couples, the loss of emotional intimacy leads to a lack of physical intimacy. And very few of us want to be in a low sex or a no sex marriage.
3. The marriage is overwhelmingly negative
Ask yourself this simple question: “Does the good outweigh the bad in my marriage?” The best answer is a quick YES. If the answer is NO (or you have to think about it for a while) your marriage is probably in trouble. A marriage where the bad outweighs the good is filled with negativity. Good things will register as neutral, neutral things will register as bad and it only gets worse from there. When you stop giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, everything looks bad. This leads to feelings of hurt and resentment on both sides and the relationship continues to spiral downward and get worse.
4. You are making plans to be with someone else
Some fantasizing about being with another person is normal and can be healthy. After all, a healthy fantasy life is important, can spark our creativity and help us imagine a better future. But constantly thinking about how your life would be better without your spouse and making plans to have an affair or leave the marriage can be destructive and is a sign that your marriage needs help.
5. Small things escalate quickly into big arguments
When small issues quickly turn into fights it is an indication that there are deeper problems in the marriage. Arguments about small things can actually be about something much deeper. An argument about staying too late at the office might actually be about how your spouse is not paying enough attention to you emotionally. Arguments about bills can be about trust, security, power, or control.
Some fighting and arguing in a marriage is normal and can be a healthy way to work out differences. But frequent arguments that take days to get over intensify anger, resentment, and hurt feelings. Very few people can tolerate a marriage where you are constantly one wrong word away from a massive argument.
6. Someone had an affair
This last one might be obvious, but it surprises me how many couples try to deal with infidelity on their own. It is almost impossible to overcome devastating betrayal and loss of trust without marriage counseling. People try to forgive and forget, but I’m not sure that this is possible without some really hard work to deal with the emotional fallout, understand the root causes of the affair, and truly put it behind you. Forgiveness is an important part of the process, but in my experience most couples rush the process and attempt this much too soon. Getting over the affair is a lengthy and painful process for both of you and there are no shortcuts.
All marriages go through ups and downs. The downs can be pretty rough, especially when there is significant conflict or adversity. I can help you get through the tough times and help make your marriage stronger than ever. Call with any questions you have or to schedule an initial consultation.