Far too many of us view marriage counseling (or couples counseling) as a lost cause. But the truth is that marriage counseling has not only saved countless partnerships from failing, but it’s also given partners the skills they need to deal with conflicts effectively well in the future. Regardless, that doesn’t make the decision to seek it out any less difficult, and it definitely doesn’t make the biggest warning signs any easier to spot. So we reached out to some top relationship therapists to gather the surefire some signs that marriage counseling is an absolute necessary for you. And if you’re thinking about tying the knot, be sure to read these 10 Pre-Marriage Solidifiers All Savvy Couples Agree On.
Your Partner Isn’t Listening
If you’re feeling like your partner is hearing you but not listening to you, that’s a very clear indication that therapy can make a difference. “A lot of problems stem from how we communicate with our partners or, conversely, how we don’t communicate,” says Chris Leeth, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Counselor Educator in San Antonio, Texas. “The overwhelming majority of problems I see boil down to a very clear issue, which is made very complicated by communication, and then overshadowed by emotion.”
He offers an example: “Let’s say someone doesn’t like that his or her partner spends so much time playing video games. Rather than communicating exactly that point, the person speaks vaguely or dances around the concern. Maybe they show frustration and disappointment without actually saying why they are upset. Now there’s arguing and confusion that carries on and on, when simply communicating the initial problem could have led to a very quick and healthy resolution.” This is where a good counselor can come in and help you guys delve into the real issue. And while you’re working to keep the spark alive, don’t miss the 7 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last Forever.
You’re Forever Stuck On The Same Issue
If there’s one sticking point that every conversation, argument, or discussion seems to end with, it’s smart to book a session ASAP. “If you come back to the same initial hurt or wound no matter what the subject is, your negative dance becomes pattern and it becomes hard to break through and do something different,” explains Thompson. In marriage counseling, therapists work with couples to teach them new ways of talking about disputes so that they can reach more positive outcomes. “Most couples have issues because they can’t break through that familiar cycle,” Thompson adds.
Everything Your Partner Does Annoys You
You know that feeling you get when someone just rubs you the wrong way—no matter what he or she doing? If you’re feeling that about your partner, book a therapist ASAP.
“A very subversive sign that marriage counseling may be a good idea is if a person starts feeling resentful towards their partner,” says Leeth. But resentment can be tricky to identify. “Resentment creeps in very slowly. A sign that it may be seeping in is if you start getting annoyed easily (and consistently) with your partner,” he says. So if they ask you if you’d like to watch TV, make dinner together, or do something else as a pair and your gut reaction is to sigh and wish you were doing something else, you’re probably in need of some outside assistance. If you’re worried that your wife may be unfaithful, here are the 15 surefire warning signs.
One Of You Doesn’t Like How The Other Uses Social Media
“For some couples, social media isn’t a problem at all,” explains Leeth. “This is usually because both individuals agree on the role, nature, and use of social media.”
On the flip side, when one person isn’t on board with how the other uses their social channels, it can become a major source of strife in a relationship. “Usually, the problem revolves around being ‘friends’ with certain people. One person may be okay with having exes on Facebook, while the other is not. One person may think that social media is for close friends and family only, while the other is much more inclusive,” he notes.
The bet fix here is to discuss boundaries in marriage counseling, where therapists see this conflict all the time and can help speed up the process of resolution. And if you’re spending too much time on social media these days, you may want to check out these 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.
You’d Rather Get Support From Someone Else
If you find yourself looking outside the relationship to your friends or others for emotional reassurance, it’s likely a sign that something’s up between you and your partner. “A couple feeling themselves growing apart and relying on others for intimate support can be an indicator that therapy may be needed,” explains Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S and author of Out of the Doghouse: A Step by Step Relationship Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating. When you think about it, your S.O. really should be the person you talk to first about anything that’s weighing on your mind. So if you’re consistently seeking out others when you need to vent, you should probably examine the situation further.
You Can’t Stop Fighting. Ever.
While constantly coming back to the same problem is a sign of trouble, not being able to agree on anything is another dilemma entirely. “If the couple keeps fighting but not about a singular issue—in other words, they are finding more things to argue about—then marriage counseling might be able to help figure out why there is so much turmoil, or if one or both people want to even continue with the relationship,” says Leeth. As they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s better to get to the bottom of it than put yourself through one endless argument. Once you turn things around, don’t miss our collection of the 10 Secrets for Keeping Your Wife Happy Forever.
You Never, Ever Fight.
On the other hand, if you literally never fight about anything with your significant other, but you feel that there are problems in the relationship, it could also be a cause for concern. “It is perhaps more problematic is when the fighting stops, as that may signal a lack of interest and intimacy,” says Weiss. “When people become indifferent about a relationship, there are reasons that underlie that, and those issues need to be addressed if the relationship is going to survive and thrive,” he adds. Apathy can definitely be the enemy of passion. For help spicing up your sex life, here are The 10 Best Everyday Sex-Drive Boosters For Men.
You’re Not Having Sex
“Sex is the glue that holds the relationship together through difficult times,” says Melanie Greenberg, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, CA and author of The Stress-Proof Brain. So yeah, sex is pretty important in every relationship. “While all couples go through occasional dry spells, a chronic lack of intimacy may be a signal that something is wrong in the relationship,” she notes. If that sounds like you, it could be helpful to memorize the 13 Sexiest Things You Can Ever Say to a Woman.
You Think You Might Need It
Sometimes, you just know. “I find that most couples arrive at counseling later than they should,’ says Thompson. “Oftentimes couples think that coming to therapy is a huge sign that they are having major problems and that their relationship is a total failure. Perhaps they haven’t been together very long or feel they should be able to get through their challenges on their own,” she explains. The truth is, though, that the sooner you get to therapy, the less repair work there is to do. So if you think you may need counseling, just go for it. And for more great relationship advice, here are The 7 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last Forever.
You’re Thinking About Getting Married in the First Place.
Yup, therapy before marriage is a thing—a very good one. Turns out, there’s a reason many religions require counseling sessions before tying the knot. “I find that pre-marital therapy can be especially helpful,” says Melissa Divaris Thompson, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in New York City. “It helps each partner acclimate to the idea of getting married, as well as define what their intentions are and what they envision their life being like,” she adds. Plus, this process can curtail potential issues down the line. Those thinking about marriage should also check out The 10 Pre-Marriage Conversations Every Couple Should Have.
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