WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK MARRIAGE COUNSELING?
It is not uncommon for couples to put off seeking help until they are in crisis and even contemplating splitting up. This is not the optimal time to be seeking help! At that point, it is most likely that each partner has either been hurt so much by their partner or has built up a great deal of resentment towards their partner. This then makes it difficult for them to trust the process enough to begin letting in new ways of perceiving their relationship difficulties. It also means that one partner may have withdrawn from the relationship in an effort to protect themselves, and that makes it difficult for them to take down their walls and re-engage in the relationship.
Therefore, it is advisable to seek help earlier, when you realize you are not resolving your differences in an effective way and it is leading to patterns of negative behaviors toward one another. It is normal that we will have conflict or differences in our relationships. We are two separate individuals with different ways of thinking, different preferences and ways of doing things. That doesn’t make your partner wrong or bad. Relationship experts agree that it is not whether there is conflict in your marriage that predicts a successful marriage, but how you “repair” or come back together and maintain your connection.
Once you have both agreed that you need outside help in changing the nonproductive behavior patterns, and you are both committed to the process, then it is important for you to be open to receiving new information about the patterns the therapist is identifying. What is applicable in so many situations applies here as well, “If you want the same relationship you have now, then keep doing what you are doing. If you want a different relationship, you need to do something different.” It won’t necessarily be easy to change your entrenched patterns, but to do so could result in a more satisfying and joyful relationship.