When marriages break down, many couples seem to be completely blindsided by it. Lovey-dovey feelings seem to disappear overnight, whisperings of sweet nothings morph into loud shouting matches or cold wars. Couples end up despairing over their marriages, themselves, and their spouses.
From my experience, intentionally learning new ways of communication and resolving conflict is crucial to move the marriage forward. If attending marriage enrichment programmes and reading marriage resources have not helped, perhaps marital counselling will be what some of us need to stop the fighting and bring back the love and connectedness we once had with our spouses.
Listed below are some descriptions of relationships and attitudes that will benefit from marriage counselling. If they seem similar to what you’re currently experiencing, I’d like to encourage you and your spouse to give marital counselling a shot to restore your relationship with one another.
Almost every conversation turns into an argument
You and your spouse are in combat mode all the time – each conversation is mostly about trying to prove the other person wrong. Areas of conflict are dealt in a “me versus you” manner, and not as a team for the benefit of the marriage.
If conversations leave you feeling misunderstood, judged, frustrated, angry, ashamed or hopeless, you may need to learn new ways of communicating and resolving conflict, besides achieving greater self-awareness.
The same arguments keep happening
Even if you rarely argue but when you do, it’s always about the same old issues. An objective facilitator will help in identifying the root causes of these arguments, and why these issues haunt you and your spouse.
“Even if you rarely argue but when you do, it’s always about the same old issues.”
Conflicts end with stony silence
If you and your spouse are afraid to voice opinions for fear of “rocking the boat”, or are often too emotionally drained or angry to want to deal with the issues at hand, you end up remaining silent instead of communicating. The inability to express your emotions widens the gulf between the both of you.
You keep secrets from your spouse
If you feel ashamed to express your feelings about situations, if you feel the need to protect what you have from your spouse – from bank accounts, Facebook accounts to email accounts, or if you feel unable to even reveal your phone password to your spouse, there could be trust issues in your relationship.
You have considered having an affair
If you or your spouse either have had an affair, or entertained the thoughts of having one, help is needed. If an affair has already occurred, seeking professional help to get to the root of issues to save your marriage will be a wise move. A betrayal of trust in marriage is one of the toughest issues to work through without an objective facilitator.
“A betrayal of trust is one of the toughest issues to deal with in marriage on your own.”
Significant changes in your marital sex life have occurred
Both of you are either having a lot less sex or having it a lot more than you used to, and it leads to you feeling frustrated and emotionally unfulfilled most of the time. The change in your emotional and physical intimacy will lead to other repercussions on your relationship.
Resentment is conveyed in thoughts, words and actions
If a lot of what your spouse does or says irks you till no end, there probably are underlying feelings of resentment towards him or her. A key test to find out if you are being unduly irritated with your spouse is to ask yourself if you will let the same quirk or comment from another person slide, but you just cannot or would not for your spouse.
The solution is for your spouse to change
If you strongly feel that the only person in your marriage who needs to change is your spouse, it will be tough-going for your relationship. Embracing a “change begins with me” attitude and being motivated to find new ways of managing marital conflict through counselling will bring far more benefit to your marriage.
You have become more like roommates than soulmates
If going home to each other is nothing more than sharing a house, and you do not feel emotionally connected in any way, that’s a clear sign that something needs to be done fast. Those feelings of love, passion and joy you once felt with each other are not gone forever, they just got lost along the way.
Many couples procrastinate in getting help for a variety of reasons. Don’t let hang-ups about counselling, or hopelessness, get in the way of seeking help. The love and passion was there when you first got married, and like many other couples who have persevered with help, both of you can work towards restoring and strengthening your marriage for a lifetime of love.
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If you are struggling to keep your marriage alive, don’t give up – find out more at www.family.org.sg/counselling and let our professional counsellors help you and your spouse overcome this obstacle in your relationship together.