When To Seek Professional Help In Your Marriage
A couple needs to work on their relationship for their “happily ever after” to happen.
We all love the fairytale side of love. We meet someone, go through an exciting whirlwind romance or a sensuously slow courtship, and then get married. We think of the marital union as the ultimate bliss, the happy-ever-after of our own enchanting love story.
“Romantic love is the fodder of Hollywood movies and stories. Romantic love sells, and we can’t get enough of it. But media representations of these stories give a false sense of what a relationship should look like, and set us up for disappointment in real relationships.” – from a therapist, Teresa Maples.
However, marriage isn’t the dot, the period we often see it be. It’s just a start of a new journey that now we’re not doing on our own, but with someone, we want to spend our lives with for its entirety. And traveling down that road isn’t smooth-sailing and, at times, we don’t have the navigational skills to make our way through safely. Here’s where we need call in our helplines – marriage counselors and therapists who can help us ways to deal with the challenges that creep into our relationships with our better halves.
But how will we know we need to reach out to a helpline?
Stan Tatkin PhD, says there are stages in love relationships. These stages will help you identify where you are in the development of your own relationship. All three involve very different emotional states, so they require an adjustment with each transition. (Romantic Love, Realistic Love, and Mature Love)
Reasons To Seek Help
“Relationship counseling shouldn’t be viewed as a crisis solver but as an integral part of healthy and growing marriage life,” said one marriage and family therapist. “Most couples go into counseling when their boat is already sinking. They wouldn’t have come to that point if they sought out help earlier.”
“When couples start not to see things eye to eye, then, that’s a red flag,” one licensed mental health counselor stated. “Most arguments that cause spouses to split up didn’t really start big but small. These seemingly petty things grew and grew until it became the elephant in the room, and suddenly, there’s no space to move at all unless it’s to opt-out.”
The counselors and therapists we talked to agreed that the most common signals to seek marriage or relationship counseling are:
- When issues have been going on for months without resolutions
- When you’re both starting to feel as if you’re just roommates instead of married
- When talking with each other always ends up in a shouting match or a fight
- When you’re afraid to breach issues with your other half
- When you’re not talking to each other at all
“These reasons might sound trivial, but we have to remember that it’s the trivial things that almost always end up with the loudest bang,” the therapists added.
“There are many reasons people seek out therapy — grief, anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, and relationships are among the most common.” says Megan Vossler, LCSW. “Regardless of the intensity, severity, and frequency of your problem, no issue is too small or too big to benefit from therapy.”
Knowing You Found The Right Pro
“Researching about the therapists you believe would resonate well is good,” said a pastor and a certified marriage counselor. “But you would only know if you “click” when you get together.”
He went on to say that first sessions are the touch-and-feel when it comes to counseling. Some counselors conduct phone interviews to gauge if you will fit in a client-therapist relationship. As for the patients, this was his advice: “It’s best if you pay attention to the general methods the counselor use, his or her personality, and his or her communication style.”
When Your Spouse Refuses To Go
“Don’t force your spouse if he or she doesn’t want to do counseling!” were the prompt answers we got from them.
“Try talking to your partner, explaining as to why you feel the need for both of you to go through marriage counseling. But if they’re hesitant then, don’t opt for emotional blackmail or insist that they should or your marriage’s doomed,” stressed out the family therapist.
They went on to say that you can always go into therapy on your own. Doing so could still have a beneficial effect on your relationship. And when your spouse sees these effects, they could be the catalyst that’ll push your partner to pursue counseling after all.
“Marriage counseling isn’t a lifeline you reach out to when your relationship is already on the brink of breaking down, you all have to put that in mind. It’s not the last resort, not the desperate cure-all pill you need to swallow when all other remedies failed. Undergoing relationship therapies can help you and your partner develop the necessary skills to conflict resolution, to financial management, even in reaching a middle ground when it comes to parenting. These things are what you need to have a happy, healthy marriage,” was the counselors’ last say.