When it comes to nurturing a healthy marriage, there is no single recipe for success – and it’s not surprising that so many couples stumble in their pursuit of “happily ever after.” If you find your marriage has become fractured in ways that you and your spouse can no longer manage, it may be time to seek marriage help. To help you recognize the signs of when to get marriage counselling, we’ve enlisted the experts. Here’s their take on the red flags that may signal the need for an expert intervention.
Your marriage is no longer a source of comfort
In any healthy marriage, you and your partner should view one another as a primary source of comfort and security. Your relationship should be a “safe space” and this is where you should feel completely at ease. If this is no longer the case in your a marriage – it may be time to seek help.
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Your communication is misaligned
The “what” and “way” in communication, says Giles, “is our significance to each other. No matter what is literally said [it can be] undermined or supported by the way it is said.” Adds Giles, “We all need a secure relationship where we each feel loved, special and recognized. Communication needs to be about meeting that need.” With marriage counselling, couples can learn effective techniques to adjust their communication styles, becoming more conscious of the messages they’re sending to their partner.
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Avoidance has become a common theme in your marriage
Although you may get free marriage help from marriage help books, but seeking advice from a professional will allow you and your partner the interactive space to express your concerns, work out the reasoning behind your avoidance and enjoy the benefits of instant feedback.
Couples therapist Karen Hirscheimer says “Relationships can get bogged down by excessive bickering, friction and discontent. When this happens, it’s hard to 'feel the love' on an ongoing basis.” Adds Hirscheimer, “Repeated fights around unresolved or recurring issues can lead to frustration and pent-up hard feelings. An experienced couples therapist can assist in learning how to bring up, talk though and resolve sensitive issues in a productive way.”
Whether an affair has already occurred in the marriage or it’s become understood that infidelity has at some point become a serious consideration, the help of a marriage expert can allow struggling couples to unearth the underlying issues in a safe and guided space. Even if the ultimate decision is one that involves a couple going their separate ways, there can be some comfort in the knowledge that every effort was made before coming to that conclusion.
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There is no room for error in your marriage
Says family therapist Alyson Jones, “If there is no room for error in a marriage, than your marriage will grow apart. We all make mistakes, but when mishaps and mistakes are used against you, it is natural to become defensive and distant.”
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Your sex life is non-existent
The key is to recognizing what it going on and taking a proactive approach. “If you aren’t making intimacy a priority, ask yourself why," says McCance. "If it has to do with sex with your partner being unfulfilling, you may want to invest in seeing a sex therapist.” To that end, adds McCance, “This person could help you talk to your partner about your unmet needs and how to spice things up.”
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Lack of affection
Basic affection is crucial to nurturing not only the physical bond in a marriage, but also the emotional one. In receiving physical forms of love and kindness from your partner, the resulting satisfaction and pleasure you feel will transfer itself into your emotional feelings and, in turn, leave you wanting to do the same for your spouse.
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Lack of accountability
In an interview with People, actress Kristen Bell notes therapy as one of the secrets to her successful marriage with fellow actor Dax Shepard: “We have a very healthy marriage and we got there by doing therapy when we needed it and constantly doing fierce moral inventories.”
You’ve stopped having fun
“A marriage loses its energy if you are living more as roommates than lovers,” adds Jones. Seeking professional help in these instances will allow couples a safe space to discover why it is they are no longer having fun together and work toward reconnecting in that way.
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Distance between partners
Hirscheimer notes, “Typically, if the relationship feels stale or one or both parties feel 'alone in the relationship,' it’s a good idea to work through ways to reconnect with a couples therapist – if trying to work it out together has not gone the distance.”
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Staying together for the kids
An article on PsychCentral.com notes that if this is case in your marriage, “it may help to involve an objective third party.” Adding, “Children are generally very intuitive and intelligent. No matter how couples may think they are able to fake their happiness, most children are able to tell.”
When one person in the relationship would like to explore therapy
In a 2013 Q&A with Rolling Stone, actor Bryan Cranston had this to say when asked if he’d ever spoke to a therapist about his family life: “My wife and I go to a couples therapist. Our agreement is, if either of us feels like we want to go, the other can’t object.” Cranston adds, “When I was a kid, if you heard of someone who went to a psychiatrist, it meant they were crazy. That’s the kind of labeling and judgment I was raised with. And I had to get rid of that.”
A lack of acceptance
Seeking marriage counselling can help couples to better understand one another, faults included. In making the effort to accept your partner as they are and vice versa, couples can begin to rebuild where their relationship might otherwise be fractured.
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No joint financial planning
Says Jones, “If couples withhold financial information and do not communicate about their finances, it can lead to secrets and lies – secrets and lies are always hurtful to a relationship.” Seeking professional help can open up the lines in communication about financial matters and prevent issues down the road.
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