- Question: Do you think marriages naturally improve as you get further and further away from the honeymoon and have greater stress to contend with – particularly with ankle biters in the home?
- Question: If your leg was infected, would you wait for gangrene to develop before seeking medical attention? And yet you might be putting off getting help with your relationship.
- Question: How is your partner to know they need to shape up when in fact they think it is you who needs to learn how to do so? How is it that you are mature, smart and goal-oriented in other aspects of your life, yet when it comes to working to improve your own relationship, you are in denial? Would you treat your own diabetes? Fill your own tooth cavity?
- Question: Why, then, would you hesitate before finding a couples therapist when you know in your heart that nothing is going to improve anytime soon without working on it?
The reality might be your relationship suffers some of the following ailments and they might just become terminal.
Relationship therapy can help with communication problems.
You are not talking or when you are its primarily negative.
Many even mature relationships have challenges which are simply challenges in communication. Relationship therapy can help facilitate new ways to communicate with each other. Negative communication can include anything that leaves one partner feeling judged, shamed, disregarded, insecure or wanting to withdraw from the conversation. Negative communication also includes the tone of conversation because it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.
When you’re afraid to talk.
It can be just too frightening to even bring issues up. This can be anything from sex to money, or even annoying little habits that are being blown out of proportion. Relationship therapy is designed to help a couple become clear about their issues and to help them understand what they are truly talking about.
You have nothing to talk about except the kids.
You go on a romantic night out and realise you don’t know about his work and don’t care. You don’t know what she talks about with her friends and don’t care. It’s so much effort to ask and pay attention that you might as well just talk about your child’s exposure to hand, foot and mouth disease at preschool. Might be time to make the call to a relationship therapist.
Relationship therapy can unravel some honesty issues.
When you keep secrets.
Each person in a relationship has a right to privacy, but when you keep secrets from each other, something isn’t right.
When you contemplate (or are having) an affair.
Fantasising about an affair is a signal that you desire something different from what you currently have. While it is possible for a relationship to survive after one partner had an affair, it’s prudent to get some help before that happens. If both of you are committed to the therapy process and are being honest, the relationship may be salvaged. At the very least, you may both come to realize that it is healthier for both of you to move on.
When you are financially unfaithful.
Financial infidelity can be 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 not unreasonable to say, “I want to better understand our monthly bills and budget, our debt, how many savings/checking/retirement accounts we have, etc.” If your partner objects, consult a professional to help work out the conflict.
Relationship therapy can assist you with your true feelings toward your partner.
You don’t respect your partner’s opinion.
In response to most things that they say, you roll your eyes, internally or outright. You genuinely think you are a better, more intelligent or have a more common sense approach, and you don’t take their opinion into consideration, probably never have if you’re honest with yourself. Or perhaps they feel and act this way about you.
You don’t feel attracted to your spouse.
Your partner looks relatively similar to when you met, but you feel no physical excitement or even a pleasant desire to touch them when they are around. You wonder if this is due to age, hormones changing, or the acid in your stomach that churns when you remember your list of resentments. It is probably that last one.
You love your partner, but something is just missing.
This is THE most difficult one. You don’t hate anything about your partner, but you don’t feel connected or close. You turn to best friends or your mum to share funny stories. You think about old boyfriends or girlfriends sometimes, or a lot. You know intellectually that your partner is a good person, but you’re Just Not Feeling It (either anymore, or sometimes you wonder if you ever did).
Most relationship and sex therapists know this simple fact- the sooner you seek out treatment, the faster you’ll feel better. It sounds obvious, but far too many people let their problems overwhelm them before getting help.
So why not take a relationship that is just okay and make it even better?
And work on the one that is not okay.