Love is a fairytale which is made more legitimate by marriage. A promise that love will last forever, who wouldn’t get enticed with that? The early days of married life might be your happiest moment as a couple. Spending time together, and talking about every bit of each others’ day made most of the “newlywed” moments.
Until the unthinkable happened…
You started to drift apart. What used to be a bright wonderful day together, now became a gloomy day alone. The warm hugs now became cold stares in each others’ eyes. The sweet kisses now became painful words that caused fights.
Suddenly, your marriage has been shaken and everything starts to fall apart. But it’s not only you who’s affected by the situation, there are people around you, especially your kids.
Now, is this marriage still worth fighting for? Probably yes!
To answer your question better, why don’t you try marriage counseling?
What is marriage counseling?
Marriage counseling, also called couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy. Marriage counseling helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. Through marriage counseling, you can make thoughtful decisions about rebuilding your relationship or going your separate ways.
Marriage counseling is often provided by licensed therapists known as marriage and family therapists. These therapists have graduate or postgraduate degrees — and many choose to become credentialed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
Marriage counseling is often short term. Marriage counseling typically includes both partners, but sometimes one partner chooses to work with a therapist alone. The specific treatment plan depends on the situation.
What would a marriage counseling success story look like? Let’s take a look…
Marriage counseling success story
Rebecca and Jason separated 3 months ago. Although living apart, they’re sharing custody of their 4-year-old son, Ryan. Since the separation, Ryan has a meltdown whenever he has to leave mom to go live with dad for the rest of the week. Their living arrangement is tearing all three of them apart. Rebecca read some couples counseling success stories, but worried that Jason would not be on board.
Rebecca and Jason still care about each other and want to be a family again. But, they have some really difficult obstacles to overcome. Jason’s mother is too intrusive for Rebecca, and that has caused a lot of tension between them. Rebecca had an affair a few years back, and Jason has had a very difficult time trusting her again. Neither of them is comfortable with confrontation, so instead of fighting, they just avoided each other. They knew they needed help and wanted to become one of the couples counseling success stories.
Jason and Rebecca chose to go to Guy Stuff Counseling because of our direct, solution-focused approach. At first, we started out meeting with Jason and Rebecca separately. Jason learned how to set some boundaries with his mother, while Rebecca got some strategies to use in earning Jason’s trust slowly but surely.
When Rebecca and Jason were ready, we started meeting together as a couple. Guy Stuff gave Jason and Rebecca simple, straightforward methods that helped them to better communicate with each other. We taught them to use 2 tools to work through conflict instead of avoiding it. With Guy Stuff’s guidance and accountability, they worked towards feeling confident enough in the changes to live together again.
Rebecca and Jason are now back together as a family and have become one of Guy Stuff’s couples counseling success stories.
Want to be a success story? Here are 10 reasons why you need marriage counseling.
1. Communication has become negative.
Once communication has deteriorated, often it is hard to get it going back in the right direction. Negative communication can include anything that leaves one partner feeling depressed, insecure, disregarded, or wanting to withdraw from the conversation. This can also include the tone of the conversation. It is important to remember that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
Negative communication not just lead to hurt feelings, it may also result to emotional or physical abuse which might make your marriage situation worse.
2. When one or both partners consider having an affair, or one partner has had an affair.
Recovering from an affair is not impossible, but it takes a lot of work. It takes commitment and a willingness to forgive and move forward. There is no magic formula for recovering from an affair. But if both individuals are committed to the therapy process and are being honest, the marriage may be salvaged. At the very least, it may be determined that it is healthier for both individuals to move on.
Sometimes couples behave more like roommates, and this is usually not a very good sign…
3. When the couple seems to be “just occupying the same space.”
When couples become more like roommates than a married couple, this may indicate a need for counseling. This does not mean if the couple isn’t doing everything together they are in trouble. If there is a lack of communication, conversation and intimacy or any other elements the couple feels are important and they feel they just “co-exist,” this may be an indication that a skilled clinician can help sort out what is missing and how to get it back.
4. When the partners do not know how to resolve their differences.
I remember watching GI Joe as a kid. Every show ended with the phrase “now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” For me, that phrase comes to mind with this situation. When a couple begins to experience discord and they are aware of the discord, knowing is only half the battle. Many times I have heard couples say, “We know what’s wrong, but we just don’t know how to fix it.”. This is a perfect time to get a third party involved. If a couple is stuck, a skilled clinician may be able to get them moving in the right direction.
5. When one partner begins to act out on negative feelings.
I believe what we feel on the inside shows on the outside. Even if we are able to mask these feelings for a while, they are bound to surface. Negative feelings such as resentment or disappointment can turn into hurtful, sometimes harmful behaviors. I can recall a couple where the wife was very hurt by her husband’s indiscretions.
Although she agreed to stay in the relationship and work things out, she became very spiteful. The wife would purposefully do things to make her husband think she was being unfaithful even though she wasn’t. She wanted her husband to feel the same pain she felt, which was counterproductive. A skilled clinician can help the couple sort out negative feelings and find better ways to express them.
6. When the only resolution appears to be separation.
Every relationship comes to a point of having big 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…
When everything becomes too toxic, a little time off each other might be helpful.
However, when a timeout turns into an overnight stay away from home or eventually leads to a temporary separation, this may indicate a need for counseling. Spending time away from home does not usually resolve the situation. Instead, it reinforces the thought that time away is helpful, often leading to more absences. When the absent partner returns, the problem is still there, but often avoided because time has passed.
In this case, confrontation with the help of a counselor might be a better resolve.
Couples sometimes stay together only because of the children…
7. When a couple is staying together for the sake of the children.
If a couple feels it is wise to stay together for the sake of the children, it may help to involve an objective third party. Often couples believe that they are doing the right thing when staying together actually is detrimental to the children. On the contrary, if the couple is able to resolve issue and move toward a positive, healthy relationship, this may be the best decision for all involved.
While it is a good move to be sensitive about your children’s situation, they should never be the deciding factor to whether or not you should stay in your marriage.
I recall working with an adolescent who was having trouble in school. She was acting out and her grades were declining. After a few sessions she stated, “I know my parents really don’t like each other.” When I asked her why, she replied, “They are nice to each other, but they never smile or laugh like my friends’ parents.”
Children are generally very intuitive and intelligent. No matter how couples may think they are able to fake their happiness, most children are able to tell.
Ever heard of financial “unfaithfulness?”
8. 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.
9. 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 longtime. This is often when I recommend hiring a coach or therapist to better understand who you are and what you want. Then, if challenges continue to persist, reach out to a couple’s therapist to learn better tools for relating to each other.
10.`You’re afraid to speak up.
When it’s just too frightening to even bring issues up, whether it be sex, money, or even annoying little habits being blown out of proportion. A therapist’s job is to help couples identify their issues and better understand what they’re truly talking about.
11. Affection is withheld as punishment.
12. You see your partner as “the enemy.”
You and your partner are not adversaries; you’re on the same team. If it begins to feel as if you’re on different sides, then it’s time to seek help…
Marriage counseling helps a lot of couples in crisis. To explain to you why undergoing the counseling process actually works, here’s a video uploaded on YouTube by PaulElmore counseling.
No matter how rocky your marriage may seem, there is still that spark of hope that can save your marriage. Going through marriage counseling will take you a step closer to patching things up, or maybe saving your marriage.
When couples begin counseling, it’s both normal and expected for them to have questions about the process. Starting the process is a leap of faith that requires courageous action, and we as therapists don’t take this lightly.
Going through the marriage counseling process can help couples identify negative patterns that manifest in their relationship. They can perhaps sort things out and talk about what they hate about their other half, which lead into conflict and chaos in their relationship…
Once you’ve identified the negative patterns affecting your relationship, your counselor will help you recognize why they’re happening and assist you in changing them. Going through such phases might strengthen you intimacy. Which, when everything went well, might even save your marriage.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Marriage Counseling | Couples Counseling Success Stories | 7 Reasons to Seek Marriage Counseling | 13 Signs You SERIOUSLY Need Couples Counseling | Image credits: Relationship Never Dies | Marriage cartoon | Long Distance Relationship |