“You and your partner are seeking a marriage therapist? Are you guys separating?”
First things first: let’s debunk the myth that couples therapy and marriage counseling are only for couples heading for divorce. It’s not. In fact, marriage counselors can provide solutions for minor, manageable issues before it becomes a giant problem that leads to resentment and divorce.
No relationship is perfect. Every couple experiences bad days and they try to resolve their fights with solutions they believe would work. You may say, “my partner and I just need to figure out how to avoid fighting all the time and then we’ll be fine. But what if you never get to figure out how? What if the pieces of advice you get from family and friends are biased and not helpful at all? What if your go-to solutions are mere bandages that cover-up the mess without solving the root of the problem?
Don’t wait until your marriage is beyond repair before speaking with a marriage therapist. Here are 10 early signs you and your partner need professional marriage advice.
1. You’re not communicating well
You know there’s something wrong if you cannot communicate your real emotions and POVs without the other person getting pissed or provoked. Difficult subjects often lead to arguments – and this pattern leads you to feel anxious and afraid whenever there’s a conversation on the horizon.
Poor communication doesn’t always mean yelling, cursing, name-calling, and angry, negative speech. It could also refer to silent but deadly passive-aggressive behaviors, avoidance of deep conversations, quiet but hurtful exchange of words, and digital addiction.
2. You’re constantly irritated with your spouse
The smallest mistakes of your spouse get into your nerves, from his gross habits to his habitual forgetfulness and lack of proper sense of responsibility. You have a list of resentments you can’t let go of. You often find yourself mocking your partner in your head. There are some instances when you mock them directly or in front of the kids.
3. You don’t get along well with each other’s families
Holidays should be fun, but in your case, they’re not since you know you’ll be seeing your in-laws. You know they don’t like you, and the worse part is, your spouse sides with them most of the time.
4. Your parenting styles don’t match
Counseling isn’t just for the benefit of the married couples – it’s for the betterment of the children too. Couples seek relationship counseling to learn ways on how they can be better parents and role models to their kids despite their differences. If one of you has a “tough love” parenting style while the other has a soft and laidback approach, ask the experts on how you can bridge this gap.
5. You’re having difficulty discussing financial matters
Money is one of the biggest issues faced by couples, and one of the leading reasons for divorce. Issues including reckless spending behaviors and financial infidelity are strong enough to break a solid marriage. A marriage counselor can help couples discuss finances in a more positive manner.
6. You’re losing respect for your partner
Respect is vital in marriage. It’s manifested when people in the relationship value each other’s opinions, willingly listen to understand and communicate one’s feelings while being thoughtful of the other person’s feelings. You know there’s something wrong when your relationship is basically made up of two people, constantly being defensive, throwing rude, insensitive, and even sarcastic remarks to each other, and violating each other’s rules.
7. You don’t do and talk about the fun stuff anymore
You have nothing to talk about other than kids, income, and bills. You stopped doing the things you both used to love. You don’t exchange conversations about how your day went, or how things are going with work. No one’s taking the initiative to rekindle the romance or even strengthen the friendship in marriage. Worse, you’re both trying to ignite the fire but nothing seems to be working.
8. You’re no longer attracted to your partner
It’s not the age or hormonal changes – because people who are genuinely in love with their partners still find them attractive even after their skin wrinkled over time. If you’re no longer attracted to your spouse, a marriage therapist can suggest a couple of ways to revive passion and intimacy.
9. You love your partner, but you know in your heart that something’s missing
Okay, you love your partner. There’s nothing wrong with him or her. You don’t really fight a lot. You can’t imagine yourself loving anyone else, kissing anyone else.
It’s just that, the spark is gone. You no longer feel the connection and the fun of married life. You find yourself turning to your best friend or sister to share funny stories. Sex isn’t satisfying anymore. The kisses are cold. I love yous have lost their meaning.
If that “butterflies in your stomach” feeling that keeps the fire burning is slowly fading away, maybe it’s time to think about what went wrong and how you’re going to get it back.
Marriage counseling is like having an appointment with a doctor. You need an expert to diagnose the root of the problem, explain things you don’t understand, and provide solutions that will work.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is one of the writers for Relationship Room Couples
Counseling, a couples psychology institution specializing in relationship counseling and
therapies for couples and families. She may be hopeless romantic but she’s got some
straightforward pieces of advice about love, dating, and relationships.