The most common complaints I hear from couples are they don’t know how to communicate, they fight too much, and they no longer feel connected. We’ll take a look at each of these problem areas to help you determine when to go to marriage counseling.
Spouses often disagree on the definition of “good communication”. One spouse may want to talk about problems in order to improve the marriage and the other would rather ignore problems in favor of maintaining harmony. Neither of these methods is wrong, but the different approaches can cause tension, frustration, and emotional withdrawal.
- You and your spouse only communicate logistics (when to pick up kids, who is making dinner, who pays bills)
- You or your partner have stopped sharing personal experiences, such as successes and failures, emotions, or dreams
- You stop complaining when something bothers you in order to avoid a serious conversation with your spouse
- You no longer tell your partner what you appreciate or love about him/her
- You find it difficult to tell your partner how you are feeling
If you identify with these warning signs, then the answer to the question of when to go to marriage counseling is NOW. Every couple struggles with communication from time to time, but these warning signs are indicators that the marriage may be heading down an unhealthy road.
Conflict is inevitable in marriage and the absence of fighting is not a realistic or even healthy goal. Airing complaints is necessary, but doing it in a disrespectful or spiteful way is damaging. The purpose of conflict in marriage is not to determine who is right; the purpose is to reconcile differences between two unique individuals. The manner in which couples fight is much more important than the outcome.
- You feel overwhelmed by the amount of conflict in your marriage
- You and your partner frequently fight over small issues
- You or your partner use name calling or insults during disagreements
- You feel disrespected during arguments
- You feel cold and distant from your partner after an argument
If these experiences are a part of your marriage, then NOW is the time to go to marriage counseling. A professional marriage counselor will help you and your spouse develop a manner of dealing with conflict that leaves you both feeling understood and respected.
When couples are first married, they often feel close to each other and desire to spend a great deal of time together. However, as years progress and the busyness of life takes hold, it is easy for couples to take each other for granted and gradually discontinue the activities that connect them. In these situations, negative interactions begin to outweigh the positive and the couple becomes largely disconnected from each other.
- You stop checking in with each other
- You feel more like roommates than a couple
- You feel lonely in your marriage
- You no longer feel like great friends
- You no longer sleep in the same room
- You rarely spend quality time together
If you find yourself feeling as though you don’t know your partner anymore, NOW is the time to go to marriage counseling. Working with a therapist will help you learn to reconnect with your partner and reestablish the intimacy that once came naturally.
If you are beginning to notice the warning signs discussed, NOW is always the answer to when you go to counseling. Just like any illness, the sooner you seek treatment the more likely you will overcome what is hurting you. The earlier you and your spouse pursue professional support, the more likely you are to continue building a strong relationship. If you are still unsure contact a therapist to discuss your situation.