When Is It Time For Marriage Counseling?
If you’re in a committed relationship and experiencing issues with your spouse or significant other, you’re not alone. It’s very common to have challenges in your relationship from time-to-time, as there is no perfect relationship. With that said, it’s important to learn how to work through these relationship challenges as they come up, so they don’t grow into bigger issues later.
As a couples therapist and life coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of distressed couples who have come to me for support and guidance due to challenges in their relationship that they have not been able to resolve on their own. The good news is that many of these relationship issues are solvable.
In my experience there are four main challenges that drive couples to seek marriage counseling or couples therapy:
Needing to Be Heard, Understood, and Respected
The first is a desire to have more clarity about your needs and how to get them met within the relationship. Whether we are aware of them or not, we all have needs in a relationship. A sure sign that your needs aren’t being met in your relationship is irritation and frustration that often builds into chronic resentment.
Many people grew up believing that it wasn’t okay to have needs. As a result, they become hyper-focused on their partner's needs to the point that they neglect their own. This pattern doesn’t lead to lasting happiness and fulfillment.
Therefore, getting clear about what you need in your relationship to feel loved and cared for is how you learn to express your emotional needs with one another. Understanding how to work in partnership in life, regarding simple daily tasks and expectations addresses the functional needs of a relationship. We need both our functional and emotional needs to be met in order for the relationship to be harmonious and resilient enough to survive challenging times.
Wanting to Be Closer To Your Partner
The second is wanting an emotional connection and greater intimacy with each other. Feeling out of sync and disconnected from your partner is what can break down the intimacy in a relationship. Your emotional connection is necessary to experience true intimacy with your partner. [Read: “How to Connect With Your Partner“]
Emotional intimacy allows your relationship to provide more of a sense of relaxation, expansion and joy, rather than a state of chronic stress, contraction and fear. If you get out of sync with your partner, it’s essential that you learn how to get back into sync as quickly as possible, so that any missteps can be repaired and the confidence in your connection can be strengthened.
Working As a Team With Each Other
The third is how to work as a team to manage life stress that comes with aging parents, raising a family or becoming empty nesters. We are stronger when we work together as a team, rather than in opposition to one another. Being in opposition will only create more stress and friction in an already difficult situation.
Major transitions in life often lead to stress that will test our resilience. This is a time that not only requires strong communication skills, but also an ability to empathize and to put others immediate needs before your own. As I mentioned earlier, relationship needs are important, however managing certain life stressors particularly related to big life transitions, will also require us to make certain sacrifices that we often can’t anticipate or prepare for until they’re happening in the moment. Working together as a united front will help you successfully navigate and manage these inevitable life events.
Improving The Communication in Your Relationship
The fourth is ineffective communication and feeling a lack of support and understanding from one another. When we can’t communicate well with our partner we often feel misunderstood and there’s a lack of support that’s felt almost immediately. This can become not only exhausting over time, but we can also feel defeated inside.
This leads to feeling stuck, stagnant, and stressed, which does not serve to foster a close connection with your partner. Communication breakdown is the primary culprit to feeling discontent and inadequate in your ability to be happy or feel satisfied in your relationship. Communication problems to not get better on their own, and if communication issues do not get resolved the harmony in the relationship will suffer to the point where hostility is the norm.
Real Help For Your Relationship
I give my clients hope that these issues can be resolved, but I also let them know they must be willing to be responsible and accountable for their part in the challenge. It doesn’t have to take a long time to feel relief, but it does require both partners to prioritize their relationship and be open to learning and applying new relationship and life skills to improve their situation long-term.
If you are experiencing challenges in your relationship, I encourage you to seek professional couples therapy or marriage counseling sooner than later. Most of these issues can be resolved fairly quickly when you invest in the right support and have a strong desire to improve your relationship and the life you share together.