7 Signs You Need Marriage Counseling
7 Signs You Need Marriage Counseling:
These first four signs you need marriage counseling have been shown by the Gottman Institute to predict divorce. If any of these behaviors are occurring in your marriage on a regular basis, it’s time to learn alternative ways to handle upsets.
1. Criticism – When one or both of you is bringing up problems in your relationship by criticizing your partner. This can be destructive to your relationship and pushes your partner away leaving the problem unsolved. Rather than bringing up the complaint neutrally, you are putting down something about their personality. Instead, you can learn to bring up your complaints neutrally and address the behavior or action without attacking, judging, or criticizing your partner as a person.
2. Defensiveness – When one or both of you respond to criticism from your partner with a counterattack or whining in defensiveness. Yes, criticism hurts, but when you respond with defensiveness, you’re engaging in the same blaming behavior, which escalates the conflict. Rather, listen to the complaint, and acknowledge exactly how you feel. “I’d like to respond to that, but I’m feeling very attacked right now, so can we revisit this at another time?”
3. Contempt – When one or both of you is criticizing your partner from a position of “moral superiority” – sarcasm, snide looks or comments, name calling, turning your head away in disgust. This is a very negative communication style and the most lethal to a relationship. Contempt often surfaces after a period of simmering negativity in your relationship. Couples who experience contempt are also more likely to suffer from illnesses.
4. Stonewalling – If one or both of you feel so attacked interpersonally that you go into fight or flight mode and shut down. This is a physiological response including increased heart rate and not being to able to think straight. Stonewalling often occurs after a period of hopeless or endless arguing.
Marriage counseling can help you address the above dangers to your relationship. In counseling you will also work on increasing your connection and fondness for one another rather than only focusing on the cause of your problems and learning to fight fairly. Research has showed that simply resolving conflict differently isn’t enough to change these dynamics in your relationship. Rather, what’s needed is a higher ratio of positivity. In marriage counseling, your focus may be more on rekindling your love than resolving every argument you have.
Get started on your relationship today by remembering to notice and demonstrate positivity towards your partner for the little things. Perhaps it’s making time to eat dinner together because you know it’s important to your partner, or giving a hug and kiss goodnight. Change can start with small acts of positivity.
Additional Signs You Need Marriage Counseling
Relationships need to be a place where we feel secure and loved, not alone. The following signs are based on Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and the book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.
5. Disconnection – If you and your partner engage in patterns of anger and attack or anger and withdrawal when a need hasn’t been met you’re engaging in the pattern of disconnection. Rather than discussing concerns and needs with vulnerability and connecting with a partner, this pattern of reacting to one another starts a negative spiral of anger, hurt, and disconnection. Houston counseling helps couples identify what is behind the spiral and learn skills to respond to one another differently.
6. Lack of trust that needs will be met – Occurs when either you or your partner do not trust that your needs will be met or responded to if you reach out to your partner. When trust isn’t present, partners no longer risk being vulnerable with one another and emotions and needs aren’t expressed. When needs aren’t met, the gap between you and your partner widens. Occasionally, this can lead to searching outside the relationship to get needs met.
7. Feel unable to resolve issues with your partner – if you feel that you’re in some sort of dance that ends up in anger when you and your partner try to communicate about needs or emotions, that’s a good sign you’re in a negative pattern. A couples counselor will help you get to what is behind this pattern so you can start to change the conversation and stop reacting to one another.
Working with a Couples Therapist
Except in cases of abuse, we strongly recommend first to talk to a couples counselor before ever contemplating divorce. Couples often are re-enacting familiar patterns with one another, ultimately just wanting to get their needs met and feel safe and loved. Walking away without learning those skills robs you of the opportunity to get your needs met and feel loved. Patterns tend to repeat themselves in other relationships. The skills you lack in this relationship will continue in other relationships (and no, it’s not just your partner’s fault – relationships are dynamic and both partners contribute to the dance between you).
Couples counseling will help you learn more about your feelings and needs and appropriate ways to express them without hurting your partner. You’ll also focus on the strengths of your relationship and finding ways to enhance your connection with one another. Both partners are worked with objectively so one person doesn’t feel sided against. Marriage counseling is a neutral zone!
To start working on increasing the connection in your relationship. Houston relationship counseling can help you find the intimacy and connection you desire. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
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