When Should You Seek Marriage Counseling?
You may be asking yourself if marriage counseling is actually worth it? If it will even help or possibly even save your relationship? Or maybe you’re wondering if the issues in your marriage are reason enough to seek marriage counseling? There are a lot of questions people have when it comes to counseling, especially where two people are involved. The idea of counseling can feel very vulnerable. If you’ve never been to a counselor, it can feel awkward and make one feel nervous or possibly guarded. Sharing your inner self with a stranger isn’t something that everyone loves doing but for the sake of keeping a marriage together, the question poses, is your relationship worth seeking out marriage counseling? Here we will address 7 good reasons to seek marriage counseling if your relationship feels like it’s falling apart.
- Communication Issues
- Preventative Marriage Counseling or Premarital Marriage Counseling
- Sex Issues
- Unfaithfulness and Infidelity
- Different Parenting Styles
- Contemplating Separation or Divorce
Communication issues are one of the top relationship issues people find themselves having. It’s a skill that requires constant improvement as you learn not only how you communicate, but also how your partner communicates. Every individual gives and receives communication in their own way, which can greatly differ from the next person. Learning to better understand how each individual in a relationship gives and receives communication is foundational for a marriage. It’s very common that what one says to another is perceived differently then how the giver intended. This can result in a never ending cycle of frustration for both parties.
Marriage counseling teaches couples how to effectively communicate with each other in a positive and productive manner that helps strengthen the marriage. Often times, people will find themselves exploring their upbringing for reasons why they communicate the way they do or why they respond to certain types of communication positively or negatively. For example, some people are very sensitive when someone raises their voice towards them or even towards others. How something is said is just as important if not more important than the actual words being spoken. Counseling can help you see where your communication habits come from as well as help you establish healthy ways of giving and receiving different types of communication.
Premarital counseling is a great way to get some things out on the table prior to tying the knot with one another. There are many common questions people have that come up before, during and after marriage. When two people come together, it’s expected that they wonder how they will work together on issues they find important and of value. How household duties will be shared, what holidays will look like with extended family, how many children they want to have and what that will look like if they plan on having children, are just some of the things can be discussed in premarital counseling. Couples counseling is a safe place to start having these types of conversations with someone who can offer unbiased counsel and ideas so that you can build a healthy and strong foundation from the beginning.
Not only can common questions be addressed, but this time can be used to learn how to effectively communicate with one another so that you both feel heard and can identify with each other’s needs. Disagreements will happen in any relationship, so it’s important to have some tools that will help you when these arise. Tools such as understanding how to prioritize one another, how to work through disagreements that leave both parties satisfied, how to meet each other’s love languages and even establishing life goals are all things that will help you build a healthy marriage.
Most people think of sex issues as not having ‘enough’ sex but issues in the bedroom can go beyond more than just how many times a month you have sex with your spouse. Sometimes sex is used as a tool to avoid deeper issues. Other times it’s used as a weapon; demanding or withholding intimacy. It’s also common for people to experience changes in their attraction towards their spouse. Having children often impacts a marriage in this way, as the woman’s body undergoes changes both physically and hormonally. This in turn impacts her emotions with hormones already taking an emotional toll. During the pregnancy, it can be quite different having sex with your spouse, especially as she gets further along. Men often say they worry they will hurt the baby if they have sex in the later trimesters of pregnancy.
Then of course, there’s after the baby is born. Children bring so many changes to a home and figuring out what works best for everyone is a learning experience that many have to journey through before finding answers to their questions. Infants require a lot of time and energy that is often exasperated by the time bedtime comes around. Toddlers are just as energy draining but in a different way that can leave mom or dad exhausted and even when they think they have the time or energy, it’s common for little ones to interrupt this time. Adjusting to a new way of life is challenging. You’re adjusting not only yourself, but figuring out how to adjust with others in mind. Whatever the reasons are for sex issues in your marriage, counseling is a way to help you address and overcome these challenges.
UNFAITHFULNESS AND INFIDELITY
Unfaithfulness is not always packaged as a physical affair. There are emotional affairs and pornography addictions that also impact marriages leaving one spouse feeling betrayed, unwanted and unloved. When a partner engages in any act of unfaithfulness, a fundamental piece in the marriage is broken and that piece is trust. To repair broken trust, couples usually need a third party to help facilitate the healing process as well as help making a plan for moving forward. The key element in this is that both parties desire to stay together and work through the issues so that they can have the marriage they both desire.
It takes an incredible amount of work to repair trust, but it is possible. Many counselors will tell you that it requires complete transparency and honesty in order to heal, which comes back to communication skills. The cheating partner often has to answer a lot of questions and is likely to feel drilled over the affair but if they are committed to saving the marriage they will be willing to endure whatever it takes to build trust back up again.
Individual needs are often readdressed and new needs present themselves as the partner that was cheated on will want to feel secure that their spouse is no longer being unfaithful. The mind can play many tricks on us and when trust is broken a mental battle ensues; causing one to wonder if their partner can be trusted. Understanding elements like this and having patience as both regain trust in the marriage is critical. Unfaithfulness and infidelity causes an array of intense emotions. Working with someone that specializes in infidelity counseling can help you navigate through these emotions and guide you in repairing and building a safe and thriving relationship is a huge benefit to your marriage and possibly essential to saving it.
According to a survey of Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, 1 in 4 marriages attribute financial issues as the cause in divorce. Often times, people view money as an abstract concept or goal. Few realize that there is an actual relationship that exists with money that speaks volumes about a persons inner self. It’s for this reason that when you have two people, there are going to be different viewpoints when it comes to finances. It’s common to see spouses not see on the same page about what is realistic for their financial situation. One may view their finances as stable or overflowing while the other sees instability and lack. Much of this is geared by their inner reaction to money itself which is why a conversation has to start in order to understand each others approach when it comes to money. Having this understanding helps create a foundation for the marriage to build their financial goals and set them up for a healthy financial future.
Other aspects of finances focus around getting used to the idea that finances are no longer just one individuals. Deciding whether separate bank accounts will continue to exist or if they will become shared is a normal part of the changes that happen when two people get married. Our financial habits all of sudden affect someone else which causes us to reevaluate how we manage our finances so we can avoid the potential consquences.
Debt, impulsive spending habits, lack of income and the stresses that naturally come with money are all examples of reasons why couples would find themselves needing marriage counseling. It’s not to say that your marriage counselor is the same as a financial advisor. Each profession is completely different from the other. A marriage counselor, however, can help couples with their communication skills which ultimately is the reason for them needing counseling in the area of finances anyway. How we communicate and respond about our finances is what leads to whether our finances will thrive or struggle. Communication gives us the opportunity to understand the other person and from there work together on creating goals that will help set us up to be successful. Trust is the backbone of any relationship, so when couples can appreciate personal differences, keep the lines of communication open and learn to work together, trust remains intact and naturally grows as a byproduct.
DIFFERENT PARENTING STYLES
Every parent’s desire is to be the best parent they can for their children. What often becomes the struggle in a marriage is that each parent has opposing viewpoints on how they want to raise their kids. What they often don’t recognize is that their parenting viewpoints were instilled when their parents raised them. Parenting styles are often an unconscious reaction to an individuals upbringing. Sharing stories of each others childhood and how one was raised gives insight into the individuals desired parenting methods. It allows both persons to understand each others values and even fears, that shape one anothers reasoning on why they desire to parent the way they do. Asking questions and openly communicating about how they envision their children being raised is essential when developing parenting strategies and is greatly beneficial when this is established before children are a part of the picture.
CONTEMPLATING SEPARATION OR DIVORCE
Separation can feel as though it starts way before two people make the decision to separate. When communication slows or stops, two people often detach from one another emotionally as a self protective mechanism. Given some time, this distance leads to couples deciding to either call it quits or take a break. One thing worth considering, if a couple finds themselves in this place, is that neither of those two responses will bring the desired outcomes both partners desire. Getting down to the root of the marriage issues is key to healing a marriage and building a healthy one. This takes both people coming together with the intent to make the marriage work and will require both parties to be open and honest with one another and the marriage counselor they are seeing. If the thought of separation or divorce is something you are considering, it may be time you looked into seeking professional help. Marriage counselors are there to help you sort through the hard stuff while providing support so you can regain what you always envisioned.
Counseling has become such a common activity for couples that about 44 percent of couples who get married today go to marriage counseling before they even tie the knot. Useful skills are acquired, including how to listen and appreciate each other’s points of view. Couples leave with foundational tools that provide them with the confidence to overcome obstacles. A greater sense of ‘team’ is gained when going through marriage counseling that you may not have otherwise. Life can be full of obstacles and with the busyness of life it’s nice to know you have others you can lean on to support you as you do life together.