With 50% first-marriages ending in divorces, it would not take much to agree that a marriage is not a cakewalk. Marriage requires some serious hard-work, and it is something that most of us fail to focus on. While it starts with all the promises of a happily-ever-afters and fairytale romances, it essentially is far away from this. Marriage involves understanding each other on levels beyond sexual compatibility, involving the nitty-gritty of daily lives. Have you and your spouse been sharing a house but not a relationship? Have you been wondering where the spark went off and why you two cannot even have a decent conversation? Well, as a matter of fact, it happens to most couples – some are quick t rebound while some need external help.
This is where marriage counseling comes into play. If your marriage is sort of hanging on the rocks, then you could do with some expert advice and opt for marriage counseling. Let us discuss more this in detail.
What is marriage counselling?
Basically, psychotherapy, marriage counseling or couples therapy is all about some external help for two people in a relationship to strengthen and re-build their bond. The experts on the subject are generally licensed therapists and they help a couple going through a rough patch in their relationships. They help the parties involved to identify, resolve and work towards improving their relationship. Usually, both spouses take the therapy together, but sometimes only one partner takes help. The solutions provided by the counselor are basis the degree of the problem and the phase the relationship is in.
The short-term therapy helps a couple probe their problems from an unbiased third-party perspective. The therapist offers advice and solution to make the relationship better and the marriage thrives. While some couples decide to stick together, others conclude that they are better off on their different paths. This generally happens when couples take too long to seek help – and that is why we bring to you 10 warning signs in your marriage that suggest you should seek outside help to reconcile your marital differences. The sooner, the better.
10 warning signs that indicate you need marriage counselling
Every marriage goes through some rough patches, and while some couples are equipped to handle them without affecting their marital relationship, some lose their spark amidst temporary crisis. And by the time a couple decides to seek expert help and advice, it is almost too late. You need to identify signs that signal that you could do better with help early on in the marriage to benefit from marriage counseling and work towards improving your relationship. The below signs serve as the first warning signals-
1. You hardly communicate with each other
Effective communication is the key to solving most problems in life. But if you and your partner seem to be drifting away from talking to each other, there is something that is certainly not quite right. A therapist can help you communicate effectively with each other, in some new ways. Deterioration in communication levels between a couple is the first sign of trouble.
2. If you talk, it always ends up in a fight
And then there is negative communication. Whenever you two talk, it ends up in a fierce argument or a fight and you end up belittling each other. You shame each other or use harsh words and tones to prove a point. While some people withdraw from these conversations, some continue to bicker for hours together. This can even translate into emotional abuse in a marriage.
3. You fight about money and are financially incompatible
Many couples have a discontent about money and finances. Sometimes it is about one making more money than the other or the other spending way too much on unnecessary things. Sometimes, one spouse feels they do not have enough money and gets anxious. Sometimes, the fight is about sharing of expenses. In all these cases, a marriage counselor can help you resolve your anxieties about finances and help you find ways to compromise about your financial situations.
4. You withdraw love and affection as a way to ‘punish’
Well, this one is a classic. Some spouses choose to withdraw all love and affection in an attempt to punish the other after an argument or a fight. They often resort to silent treatment and if you are facing this, then it is time to seek help.
5. Big life changes happening
Whether it is parenthood, a new job, a new city, loss of a close family member or something else some upheaval in your marriage and life is inevitable. You can be prudent to seek therapy while you deal with these changes to cope effectively.
6. You contemplate or already have an extra-marital affair
Having an affair or thinking about one indicates you are looking for something different than what you have on your plate. While it is possible for a marriage to survive even after infidelity, it is best to opt for counseling while you are still fantasizing about it. At the very least, it may help you realize that the marriage is damaged beyond repair and it is best for you both to move on.
7. You are not on the same page on intimacy and sex
Sex forms the backbone of a marriage. Having too little or too much of sex indicates there is a problem. Some women tend to withdraw sex after an unpleasant argument, while some men indulge in too much of it after feeling guilty of something else. A balances sex life is a must for a happy marriage, and if that is missing, you may seek marriage counseling.
8. You expect the other person to change without yourself making an effort
Marriage is balanced on teamwork and thrives only when both partners make an effort. Expecting one partner to change just so as to fit your bill can cause havoc on the marital peace and harmony. You need to accept the person as she or he is, and of possible make some changes in you to accommodate. It is always easier and better.
9. You are more like roommates than a couple
If you feel that you just share a house and monthly expenses, you definitely are missing the essence of marriage. Companionship, communication, love, respect, understanding, sex, all form critical aspects of a successful marriage. Living life as roommates, performing duties and refraining from communication indicates serious problems and therapy is advised.
10. You keep secrets
Couples who are transparent with each other have better and happy marriages. Spouses feel more secure in a relationship when they have the confidence that they know everything about each other. The moment secrets start coming in, insecurities start to brew. These small insecurities sometimes add to big issues and harm a marriage. A therapist can help you anticipate changes, and prepare you or the challenges ahead.
What to expect from Marriage Counselling?
It is but natural to be apprehensive to open about your relationship honestly in front of a stranger. The therapist will ask you many questions to assess your relationship with each other. He may even study your individual behaviours. You will not learn some magical skills to communicate and neither will you be able to make up for the damage overnight. The major thing that you will learn is probably about yourself, and to some extent your partner. This will help you understand the major disconnects between the two of you and how your communication patterns work out.
Couples therapy will not change your partner the way you want him but will help you know him better and reflect on yourself to get the best of the relationship. It will help you open doors of communication with this new knowledge of your partner’s core values and break ineffective patterns.
How to choose the right therapist for marriage counselling?
Because you are placing your trust on someone with the most important part of your life, it is but important to choose a marriage counselor carefully. With you already in a fragile mode, it is important to take the below factors into consideration before you zero out on a therapist-
- Training and credentials: The best therapists are well-educated in their fields and have graduate or postgraduate specialization in the field. They may have also practiced under other experts as a part of training. Before you make an appointment, make sure to check the credentials
- Past experience: Ask the Therapist about the couples he might have helped in the past. He may not give you details because they are confidential, but you may get an idea of how experienced he is. Ask him how many years he has been in this profession
- Open and approachable: To actually benefit from couple’s therapy, the counselor needs to be amicable and open. You will be able to share your deepest problems and concerns only if you feel comfortable in his presence. He needs to be an open, warm and approachable person with no judgemental traits
- General reputation and reviews: Ask around for his general reputation and read reviews online. The digital era has made it possible to rate doctors and therapists and you could get a general idea of how good he is going through them
Once you feel that a therapist suits you and your spouse and can help you work on your marriage, do not hesitate and make an appointment right away. Marriage counseling works best if you seek help when you are still interested to save your marriage.
Marriage counseling helps only if you seek help early on in your relationship before one of you gives up on it. It works only when you two are committed to making it work. However, the fact is that even if you have drifted apart in your marriage, a skilled therapist may help you to figure and accept the same and help you both move on.