Marriage S.O.S.

If your marriage is going through a rough patch, how can you tell if your difficulties are something you can manage on your own or if you need to seek marriage counseling?

Marriages inevitably present challenges. You and your spouse likely have different opinions, backgrounds, feelings, wishes and ideas about how to do things in life. Every marriage goes through its trials and tribulations as a couple works out these differences or weathers lulls in the passion. So if you are going through a rough patch, how can you tell if your difficulties are something you can manage on your own or if you need to seek marriage counseling?

Marital counseling is designed to help you rebuild, repair and improve your relationship. It may on the other hand help you decide if, in fact, you would be better off splitting up. Typical kinds of problems that benefit from counseling are infidelity, financial problems, blending families, sexual problems, conflicts over parenting, how to argue, physical or mental illness, and substance abuse.

So what if every discussion ends in an argument, or your spouse is avoiding talking at all? What if the sex has ended? What if you know you’ve got problems but can’t figure out how to fix them?

Here is how you know if you need to get to a professional:

1. If most communication ends in fights, hostility, is antagonistic or if there is any kind of violence.

2. If one or both of you has withdrawn from the other.

3. Sexual problems or infidelity.

4. If problems in the relationship have resulted in one or both people suffering depression, insecurity or turning to drinking or someone else.

5. If you know the marriage is in trouble or you are only staying for the kids.

A marriage counselor will usually meet with each person individually and then the couple together. They will give you tools to understand each other and to resolve your conflicts. They can work towards your ability to problem-solve and argue better. Usually they will meet with you once a week and depending on whether this is for a sudden crisis or more longstanding problems they will see you for several sessions or several months. Look for someone well trained, who has experience specifically in the issues you are facing in your marriage. Therapy is never easy work but it can make a world of difference in your relationship.

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