When couples think about marriage, your expectations can reflect the Cinderella fairytale: You meet “the one,” and the intense joy and romance propels you to get married. Then, you ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. However, what is missing from the fairytale is disturbing: a good marriage requires work!
It’s no secret that most of us enter marriage without the skills to navigate difficulties like money, sex, and parenting. Afterall, we are young, idealistic, and inexperienced. Over time, however, those small, naive habits can turn into big problems. Here is where professionals may help. And by professionals, I mean a marriage counselor who wants you to feel empowered with the knowledge and abilities you need to navigate difficult conversations and enjoy a more secure and lasting bond for life!
So, when do you know it’s time to for marriage counseling? Here are some reliable warning signs that it’s time to get marriage counseling—from a therapist’s perspective.
It’s Time To Get A Marriage Counseling When We don’t talk.
In all honesty, communication problems are the root of many relationship problems. A marriage counselor can assist in opening new channels of communication because it can be challenging to improve communication once it has faded or deteriorated.
We Talk, But It’s Always Negative.
Negative communication makes a marriage partner feel criticized, chastised, ignored, insecure, or like they should leave the conversation. Because it’s not necessarily what you say but how you say it, negative communication also involves a conversational tone. Both verbal and nonverbal negative communication has the potential to develop into stonewalling and sometimes emotional abuse.
I’m Afraid To Talk, Or Bring Up Stuff
It’s time to get marriage counseling when discussing problems generates persistent conflict. This might involve everything from sex to money or even pesky small habits you want to discuss. A marriage counselor is responsible for assisting a couple in understanding each other’s concerns and helping you come to mutually agreeable solutions again.
I Get The Silent Treatment… And Love Is Withheld
Unfortunately, the silent treatment or “cold shoulder” is common in marriage. On the surface, it’s the unwillingness to speak to someone, which is frequently used as a form of control, emotional blackmail, or punishment. The silent treatment might seem convenient to opt out of a conversation that is bothering you, but it is also super unhealthy in a marriage.
It’s Time To Get Marriage Counseling When We Have Secrets
Each individual in a partnership has a right to privacy, but when you intentionally keep secrets from one another, there is a problem. Ask yourself, “Does my spouse know what’s on my mobile device?” Here’s another question: “If my partner hands me their phone, will I encounter any surprises?” If secrets endure, it’s time to ask for professional help.
I Fantasize About Affairs
Sexual fantasies serve a wide range of functions. Although sharing or acting on your fantasies can be intimidating, they can offer a glimpse into your true desires. For example, in Justin Lehmiller’s book, Tell Me What You Want: The Sceince of Sexual Desire and How It Can Improve Your Sex Life, his landmark survey reports that the most common reasons for having fantasies abour sex are:
- To experience sexual arousal (79.5%)
- Curiosity about different sexual experiences and sensations (69.8%)
- To meet unfulfilled sexual needs (59.7%)
- To temporarily escape reality (59.4%)
- To express or fulfill a socially taboo sexual desire (58.4%)
- To plan out a future sexual encounter (55.7%)
- To relax or reduce anxiety (43.6%)
On the one hand, marriage counseling can help you discover how sexual fantasies can promote deeper intimacy in your relationship. On the other hand, fantasies about an affair can also be the precursor to an affair. Although a relationship can continue after one person has had an affair, it is wise to get marriage counseling before it occurs.
A financial affair can be just as detrimental to a relationship as a sexual one, if not more so. If one spouse hides their expenditures or feels the need to control everything monetarily, the other should bring up the subject of family finances. Without a doubt, it’s appropriate to say something like, “I want better to comprehend our budget, debt, and monthly expenses. Can you show me our checking, savings, and retirement accounts?”
If your partner objects, get marriage counseling to help resolve the issue before bigger financial problems arise.
Everything Would Be Fine If They Would Change
Wishing that your spouse will change might be one of the biggest frustrations in marriage. Even so, lasting change that transforms a marriage starts with the person staring back at you in the mirror.
Before you get upset—I’m not saying you are the problem. I’m not saying you have done anything wrong or don’t have excellent knowledge to share. I’m saying that we all have one great power: the power to change ourselves.
My point? We can’t change our height or ethnicity. However, we can change our actions and reactions, and in doing so, we can change our relationship. So, instead of working on getting your partner to fix what you deem excessive or deficient behavior, consider your side of the street: learning more about yourself and being a role model for change.
Feeling brave? Reach out for marriage counseling to learn better tools for relating to each other.
Living Separate Lives
Research shows that two opposing forces drive each marriage partner: the desire to be separate and connected. Even so, living independently or doing everything together does not mean a couple is in trouble. However, when one partner reports, “We function more like roommates,” that dynamic force is probably out of balance, and it’s time to get marriage counseling. Otherwise, the key ingredients in marriage—trust, empathy, and intimacy start to suffer.
Your sex life and changed, significantly
After the wedding day, it’s normal for sex to shift, change, or lessen a bit. To be clear, many couples find it hard to talk about sexual problems—or admit they have one. Even if you’re willing to talk about it, it’s hard to know what to say or do. However, noticeable changes in the bedroom indicate a growing problem, and it’s time to reach out for marriage counseling to learn better tools.
Enduring Relationship Issues
Like most couples, you want to enjoy the comforts and security of a loving relationship, yet simple conversations can turn into heated arguments because you don’t see eye-to-eye. Discussing topics like money, sex, parenting, leisure time, in-laws, spirituality, or the holidays can leave you feeling stuck and isolated! Deep down, you know that you need to improve your communication. Otherwise, divorce or a lifetime of heartbreak, pain, and loneliness will consume you!
Regardless of the challenges in your relationship, marriage counseling can help.
I want you to feel empowered with the tools and skills you need to free yourself from those old destructive conversations and enjoy a more secure and lasting bond for life! Call me today. I would love to be your guide.
Which of these warning signs made the most sense to you?