Has the joy gone out of your marriage? Find out in this article whether it is time for marriage counseling that may help you rekindle the love that brought you together.
Maintaining a long-term commitment isn’t easy, especially when marriage means you are together 24/7/365. Even in the best marriages, arguments, disagreements, and fights are inevitable. The question is whether restoring a good relationship with your spouse is worth the effort.
Here are eight indications that your marriage may benefit from marriage counseling.
You or your spouse just don’t care anymore
Most of us think of the opposite of love as hate. However, to hate someone, you still have to care about how they react to you. Most marriage counselors agree that the opposite of love in a marriage is indifference.
When you have reached the point in your relationship that you don’t even care enough to fight, marriage counseling may be your only way forward. If you don’t care when your spouse is upset, or you roll over on important issues to avoid fighting about them, or you no longer have a sex life or your sex life is with others, or your lives hardly intersect anymore, professional intervention may be necessary to save your marriage.
All (or almost all) of your communication is negative
The opposite of love is indifference. However, misdirected love can turn very negative.
Maybe you and your spouse struggle to stay in your marriage because every time you talk, you get into a fight. You wind up constantly acting from a place of hurt. Sure, one or both partners may be too sensitive or too defensive, but emotional acuity is not something that you can simply will away. A good marriage therapist can help you redirect your sensitivities so you can recover from a fight.
You don’t find time for intimacy anymore
Everyone works through sexual issues in their own time, but it’s normal, and normative, to be heavily invested in sex at the beginning of a marriage. It’s also normal, although there is no rule, for couples to have less time for physical relations as their marriage produces children and they progress in their careers.
The problem with intimacy in a marriage comes when one or both partners don’t want to be physically intimate anymore. A competent marriage counselor can help you find ways to rekindle the flames without burning the house down and give you guidance when physical limitations require new avenues of sexual expression.
You, your partner, or both of you have been unfaithful
Some couples choose to live in an open marriage. These relationships can pose unanticipated issues, but a worse situation arises when one partner chooses an open marriage.
Problems arise when one partner simply announces, “I am going to do this,” or doesn’t consult the other partner at all. Of course, both partners can have affairs without having any discussion about them. Sexual addiction issues, STDs, and pregnancies can make marriages extremely complicated at best.
A marriage counselor seeks to help couples re-establish trust. The marriage counselor helps couples who want to get past their affairs get results from their efforts.
You, your partner, or both of you have been dishonest about finances
In younger relationships, once partners have paid their shared bills, there is usually an understanding that each partner is free to spend the rest of their money as they please. When couples have joint accounts, however, it isn’t fair to make major purchases without consulting your spouse.
This includes taking out loans and applying for bank accounts and credit cards without the other spouse’s permission. Marriage counselors can help couples identify financial problems, and decide how to recover from them.
You find yourself having the same argument time and time again
Sometimes, spouses come into a marriage with emotional baggage. Sometimes, spouses simply cannot overcome a traumatic event that occurs after they get married.
And sometimes spouses will never get over an emotional upset.
Your marriage counselor can help you find ways of dealing with your emotional liabilities with kindness, grace, and good humor. Your marriage counselor can also help you identify the issues that are really soluble, so you can move on individually and as a couple.
One or both partners keeps secrets or tells lies
Most people tell white lies. A spouse may opine “You look great in that outfit” while successfully suppressing a cringe. Nearly everyone at one time or another reassures “It’s OK, don’t worry about it” when the situation isn’t OK and there is every reason to be upset.
A lack of truth-telling becomes a problem in relationships when it involves matters of significance. Taking out a second mortgage, losing your child’s college fund on a weekend trip to Vegas, and covering up legal problems could cause enormous distress when the truth is found out. The excuse “I was just trying to protect you” usually does not wash. Both partners in a healthy marriage need to be able to trust each other.
Any relationship can go through a rough patch. Even the happiest couples can face overwhelming challenges, or fall into a rut. Honest, accessible, convenient therapy can help couples come through difficulties stronger than ever before.
You don’t need to wait to get the help you need. Ellen Savage LCPC is a professional counselor who has been practicing marriage therapy, divorce therapy, and relationship therapy since 1982.