Couples often avoid seeking help for their relationship until they feel they have tried everything themselves to fix the problems they are experiencing in their marriage. Often it will be at the point when they are considering separation as a viable alternative and marriage counselling is their last option.
While relationships can still be repaired at this stage, it is much easier to work with a relationship when both partners are aware that there are issues but still really want the relationship rather than considering separation.
There is a belief by some people that they should be able to fix their own problems and that professional help will not make a difference. The reality is that sometimes we have such an emotional involvement, or simply do not have the skills to navigate the problems that arise on our own. A qualified counsellor is able to help you establish what is behind the problems, give you strategies or tools to fix them and at times, will act as a referee to help you resolve issues in a calm and effective way.
Time to Consider Marriage Counselling
The best time to get marriage counselling is when the relationship is still healthy but may not be as satisfying as it used to be. There are a number of signs that marriage counselling could be helpful to your relationship.
- If you argue and are unable to get a resolution to your arguments that you are both happy with. Usually some simple communication skills can be learnt to help you resolve conflict in an effective way. Every relationship will have conflict at some stage but it is how you manage this conflict that determines whether the relationship remains healthy and fulfilling.
- If the level of intimacy or affection drops off so that you rarely pay attention to each other or feel like housemates. This is a reliable indicator that the relationship is heading in the wrong direction and needs some help to get back on track.
- Often after the arrival of children, the dynamic in the relationship changes. While this is natural during such a big life stage transition, if it is not monitored and maintained, then it can be the start of the decline of the relationship. This is actually a really common stage for couples to notice that they are not content in their relationship, but they do not do anything as the focus is on the children.
- When you find that life is so busy that you rarely spend any quality time together and are just working to get through the day. While this may not feel uncomfortable, it does slowly erode the relationship.
- When you just don’t feel connected to your partner. This happens over time for some people and they turn to friends or family to provide emotional needs rather than seeking them within the relationship. This is a good sign that it is time to change something in your relationship so that you are working together to meet each other’s needs.
- After an affair. Some people are embarrassed by this and try to keep it quiet and manage it themselves. It is rare for a couple to be able to negotiate the emotional damage an affair causes. Seeking counselling at this point is a priority. The counsellor will help you work through the emotions, learn how your relationship became vulnerable and work with you both to gain the trust back again. There is no judgement from a counsellor and it is a safe and secure place to work through this.
- When you don’t speak to each other with respect. Some couples think nothing of yelling or calling their partner names when they are angry. While you may recover from these episodes and forgive and move on, eventually this behaviour erodes the relationship and leaves it vulnerable. Working with a counsellor can help you to learn what is behind the anger and give you essential communication skills to resolve conflict and anger in a healthy way.
- When one person in the relationship has doubts about themselves or does not feel secure. This may not be a reflection on the relationship but it certainly affects the relationship long term. In this case, either marriage counselling or individual counselling may be beneficial to ensure the health of the relationship.
- When you are just there for the kids. This seems like a valid reason to stay in a relationship but it can be quite damaging for the family. Children are very good at reading their parents and while it may not seem to be affecting them, it usually is on some level. It is not healthy for you as a person either and is in the best interests of the family unit to try and get the relationship back on track.
Whatever the problem in your relationship, a qualified counsellor can help you to navigate them in a healthy and non-confrontational manner so that you can have the relationship you want. If you are even thinking that counselling may be an option, then it is definitely time to seek help.