Are you struggling to feel connected to your partner?

Do you feel misunderstood and undervalued by your partner? Are you constantly fighting about the same things over and over again? Maybe one or both of you has had a physical or emotional affair and you need help coping with the consequences. Does it feel like you and your partner just aren’t on the same page or that they don’t care about your feelings anymore?

Having problems in a relationship is absolutely normal.  If you aren’t disagreeing at all you might be really disconnected. Couples who have been together long-term have successfully learned to navigate marriage and know how to put problems in perspective. They understand that the way to work out issues is by talking openly and honestly with their partner instead of fighting, insulting, withdrawing or sulking. Problems themselves are common—every couple has them. It’s how they are handled that makes all the difference.

All Relationships Have Challenges

Over the years, people in relationships are constantly changing and growing. When this happens the relationship gets off balance and takes some time and effort to balance out again. Marriage can present many challenges that you never had to think about as a single person. Many of us have not seen the best models for relationships and we just do what we learned.  Even if you had great models, both partners come in with different expectations of what a marriage should look like.

Some causes of conflict include money, parenting, in-laws, sex and different ideas of power in the relationship. This usually stems from value differences that have not been explained or are not accepted. Many couples walk into marriage with an idea of how things should go and these become unspoken expectations that cause conflict.

Another common problem in is the inability to develop a true partnership where both people maintain individuality yet a couple relationship is formed. This often appears in the early stage of marriage when one or both partners is not on the same page about what a healthy marriage should look and feel like. Your partner may still want to go out with the boys frequently and doesn’t balance his time with you or the family. Or you may work so much that you just don’t feel like being intimate at the end of the day.

Blended families can present a particularly difficult challenge navigating on you own. Often stepparents can be overly critical of their stepchildren, and biological parents can be too accommodating to their own offspring. It often takes about 4 years (depending on the age of the children) to get into a good flow and balance.  You are not only dealing with new partners and step-children, but exes, and sets of grandparents that can present their own set of challenges.

Perhaps the most impactful and hurtful situation in a marriage is that of an affair, regardless of if it’s emotional or physical. If you had the affair, you may believe you had reasons for it and be ready to just move on. You may think that talking about it will bring up more hurt feelings. But if you are the person who is just learning about the adultery, you may be just beginning to sort out your feelings and reactions. Following an affair, both people need to look at what was going on in the relationship before the affair, process the hurt and betrayal and create a new relationship moving forward.

Marriage Counseling Can Help Get Your Partnership Back on Track

In marriage counseling, you can learn tools to help you and your spouse solve problems more successfully, communicate better and resolve conflicts without fighting. Marriage counseling can improve the resiliency of your relationship and your ability to handle problems together. With time, you can experience relief and hope, improved sexual intimacy and see happiness return to your marriage. Improved communication helps solve almost any problem.  You can learn to listen to not only the words, but the underlying emotional need that is being expressed. When partners feel heard and understood, they can turn to solutions.  

As long as both you and your spouse come to marriage counseling voluntarily and are willing to consider change—even if there is doubt or anxiety about what will happen—there is hope. You and your partner can strengthen your relationship by agreeing to try to work through your concerns together in a purposeful and guided way. You may notice that hopeless situations begin to feel hopeful again.

It is not unusual for couples to have problems and after therapy say that their marriage is more amazing and stronger than it ever was before. Not all marriages are saved because many wait too long to come in. Don’t be one of those.  With persistent effort, you can learn new tools to have a wonderful marriage.

Although you may be ready for change, you may still have questions or concerns about marriage counseling…

What if we aren’t married yet?

That’s great.  If you are in a love relationship or living together, we can work on preventing some of the problems you might not be aware of before you are married. You can also get clear on your expectations and improve your communication skills which will help in your relationship now and into the future.

I’m skeptical about my partner’s ability make a change 

When both people are in the office, there is hope. Marriage counseling gives you both the opportunity to speak and be heard and with my help, be understood. I am for both the partners so I won’t be taking sides.   I can’t promise your partner will change, but if he or she attends sessions, that’s a good start. If your spouse is truly ready to learn and is teachable, change will occur. And don’t forget: relationships improve when one person begins to do what’s healthy, regardless of what the other party is doing.

Isn’t this going to be expensive?

Marriage counseling is usually more time-consuming and it is definitely and investment in your future. But, I invite you to think of it this way: Therapy is usually much less expensive than divorce. And that’s not counting the emotional expense…

Getting into all these problems is going to stir up more pain.

Not discussing the issues in your relationship is like having an infected wound that you slap a bandaid on. You think you have treated it, but the infection is still there. Being in an intimate relationship is based on being listened to and having your feelings valued and respected. Talking through issues, venting and airing the dirty laundry is a healthy thing to do, even if it seems counterintuitive or scary at first.