When do we know we need Marriage Counselling?
- You bicker constantly. Negative communication includes anything that leaves one partner feeling judged, shamed, disregarded, insecure or wanting to withdraw from the conversation. Negative communication also includes the tone of conversation because it’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Negative communication can also escalate into emotional abuse, as well as non-verbal communication.
- You’re barely speaking. Many relationship challenges are simply challenges in communication. A counsellor can help introduce new ways to communicate with each other. Once communication has deteriorated, it’s often hard to get it going back in the right direction especially through a difficult relationship period.
- Affection is withheld as punishment. Withholding affection (including giving the silent treatment) starts when one partner starts to act as a “parent” or “punisher,” starving the other of actual love as a weapon, there is a lack of balance in the relationship.
- You’re afraid to speak up. When it’s just too frightening bring any issues up, whether it is about sex, money, or even annoying little habits. A Counsellor can help to identify their issues and give couples a better understanding of what they’re truly talking about.
- You see your partner as “the enemy”. You and your partner should be on the same team. If it begins to feel as if you’re on different sides, then it’s time to seek help.
- You start keeping secrets. Each person in a relationship has a right to privacy, but when you keep secrets from each other, something isn’t right.
- You’re contemplating (or having) an affair. Fantasizing about an affair is a signal that you desire something different from what you currently have. While it is possible for a relationship to survive after one partner has had an affair, it’s prudent to get some help before that happens. If you both commit to the counselling process and speak with honesty, with a duel aim of saving the marriage, Counselling can help! At the very least, you may come to realize that it’s healthier for both of you to move on.
- You believe everything would be OK if he or she, would just change. The only person you can change is yourself, so if you’re waiting for your spouse to change, you’ll wait a long time. Individual Counselling is sometimes also necessary before or during the marriage Counselling journey.
- You’re living separate lives. When couples become more like room mates than a married couple, this may indicate a need for Counselling. This doesn’t mean a couple is in trouble just because they don’t do everything together. Rather, if there is a lack of communication, conversation,intimacy or if they feel they just “co-exist,” this may indicate that it’s time to bring in a skilled Counsellor who can help sort out what’s missing and how to get it back.
- Your sex life has changed dramatically. It’s common for sex to taper off a little after you’ve been together for a while. However, significant changes in the bedroom signal something isn’t right. An increase in sex, by the way, is also a sign of challenges, as it can signal one partner trying to make up for something they’re doing that they feel is wrong.
- Little things feel like big things now. Every individual has trigger behaviours — specific things that drive them crazy that wouldn’t bother the majority of other people. This can include issues like laundry, how to load the dishwasher and having the same thing for dinner too often. The other partner often doesn’t understand why these fights keep happening and what he or she can do about it. A Counsellor can help a couple discuss these issues and figure out what the real root of the issue is.
- There are ongoing relationship issues. Every relationship has sticking points or those big-ticket arguments that carry over for months without any kind of resolution in sight. This includes differing views on family finances, incompatible sex drives and differing parenting philosophies. These challenges feel impossible, but working them out with a resolution, both partners find reasonable resolution is entirely possible. Therapists help if both parties fully commit to understanding the other’s point of view and willing try to find common ground.
- You’re financially “unfaithful”. Financial infidelity is often just as — if not more — damaging to a relationship than a sexual affair. If one partner keeps his or her spouse in the dark about spending or needs to control everything related to money, then the other should bring up the topic of family finances. It’s fair to say, “I want a better understanding of our monthly bills and budget, our debt, how many savings/checking/retirement accounts we have, etc.” If your spouse objects, consult a professional to help work out the conflict.
Most couples wait too long before seeking help. In truth, you’re best served if you seek help sooner rather than later!