How to recognize your relationship is on the brink...and get reconnected
If your relationship is on the rocks, you might start to question whether or not you’re in the right situation. Before you throw in the towel, you should definitely consider couples counseling, which can help you learn to change your patterns as a couple and start to move forward in a more healthy way. If you don’t know whether or not you’re in trouble, here are the signs you need couples counseling.
Signs you need couples counseling:
- Your partner suggests couples counseling: If your partner suggests counseling, this is a sign that things haven’t quite been corrected in the relationship. People don’t suggest working with a professional when the relationship has a solid connection. It is very common that one partner cries out for help and the other person completely misses the critical issue until years later once the relationship has become entirely unraveled. Take the suggestion of marriage counseling seriously when your spouse brings it up.
- The relationship is sexless: One of the signs that a relationship is dwindling is a lack of intimacy in the bedroom. In a secure relationships, both emotional closeness and sexual closeness keep things balanced. Intimacy can go in waves through the years, but if there is an ongoing drought that lasts months or years, this is a sign to seek professional help.
- You become burnt-out: Going from completely engaged and seeking closeness to a completely “burnt-out” position is a danger zone. When this happens, you haven’t given up on the relationship, yet you are unwilling to expose any vulnerable needs or to rely on your partner. This is a sign that things have been changing and you could be going down a dangerous road, headed towards complete disconnection. This is a critical time for couples to seek counseling and get both people to engage in the relationship.
- There’s been infidelity: This may be a no brainer for some people, but affairs are signs that marriage counseling is needed. Whether the affair was just revealed, or you are active in the affair, it is critical to understand why this happened in the first place and heal any emotional injuries. Many couples think that they can simply lock up the past, say “I am sorry,” and move on. In reality, affairs are very fragile situations where the repair work is critical and must handled in a healing way. Every second counts when rebuilding trust and regaining the security in a relationship. Moving on doesn’t mean shutting the door to pain, but it also doesn’t mean you relive the pain over and over. Seeking counseling helps couples handle the fears and emotions that arise in the present and take action to create a long term resolution.
- You’re seeking comfort from others: When either you or your spouse quickly go to friends or family before turning to the relationship, you should seek counseling. When we no longer turn to one another to resolve issues and instead turn to others for support, a wedge is created in the relationship. Sometimes it becomes easier and easier to turn to others and this can quickly snow ball into a drawn out relationship that dissolves over time.
- You’re fantasizing or beginning to have feelings for others: Thoughts can be thoughts and simply just that. But other times a fantasy leads us to an exciting place where it would be easy to cross the line if the opportunity arises. It is vital to get at the heart of why you get so excited when your co-worker sends you a text, or a friend calls you. If your relationship was solid and secure you wouldn’t consider being with someone else. Something significant is going on, and things are lacking in your current relationship. Start couples counseling to figure out what you aren’t getting in the relationship and give your spouse an opportunity to get it right with you before it is too late.
- The fighting is bad: When fights continue to go to bad places, either verbally or physically, couples counseling is essential. The more attacks you take at one another, the more you drive each other way and develop a bad habit when it comes to communication. Any time the relationship becomes degrading or hurtful, it is time to seek some expert advice on how to stop the damage and to the relationship.
Couples counseling will help you get back on track when the security in your relationship begins to dwindle. Before your relationship is pushed to the brink of destruction, visit a counselor to learn better communication and get to the bottom of your issues.
And for the couples about to get married:
If you are about to tie the knot, premarital counseling is always a good idea — even if you don’t think you have any problems in the relationship. My view of premarital counseling is that it can always be helpful for any couple planning on saying “I do.” You wouldn’t fly a plane without flying lessons; similarly, it makes sense to learn more about how to keep a healthy relationship before you enter into a huge commitment. Most premarital therapy is used as a preventative tool, or a way to get your relationship solid before walking into the married world. The sessions are about helping couples learn the rules of communication, explore marriage expectations, and discuss strategy plans for the unexpected future.
If you’re in San Diego and need help working through anger in your relationship, contact me today and let’s see if I can help!
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653