Men can be reluctant to come in for counseling. Often it's their partner who talks them into coming. Men can be depressed and not want to talk about it. Sometimes women start the conversation about getting couples counseling, and men can drag their feet until the marriage is at a breaking point.
It makes me sad as a couples therapist to see people delay and let a relationship deteriorate without getting professional help. Divorce is expensive and emotionally difficult for both adults and the children involved. Why ignore the signs of relationship tension, your distress or your partners? What if you wait too long and it's too late to save things?
What if we shifted the paradigm to working on couples or individual concerns when they are still small? I think we could prevent a host of relationship cancers developing. Even a tune-up, a couple of sessions with a couples therapist can help you get things back on track, more connected and communicating better. Sooner is better!
What are signs a couple should get some counseling, because there are couples issues developing?
1. One or both partners feel unappreciated.
2. Physical affection is tapering off or stopped. You don't hug, kiss, hold hands or have physical intimacy. You can't talk about your physical needs and preferences with your partner comfortably.
3. You are completely consumed by your children's needs and there is no energy or time left for you as a couple.
4. You can't recall your last date night with each other.
5. You are sleeping in separate bedrooms, or different places in the house.
6. You feel misunderstood on a frequent basis.
7. Your partner won't listen.
8. You can't solve problems together.
9. You're not having any fun together.
10. You don't feel respected by your partner and/or you don't respect them.
11. You or your partner are not emotionally available for any reason: working too many hours, alcoholism, substance abuse.
12. Your parenting styles conflict. One of you always has to be the bad cop.
13. One or both of you shut down, pout, threaten divorce, swear, rage, scream or otherwise make communication impossible. You can't fight fairly.
14. One of you doesn't set appropriate boundaries with others: your family or friends of the opposite sex.
15. There are difficult conversations you need to have with your partner, but you don't feel safe to have them.
Any of these relationship issues is so much easier and quicker to fix sooner rather than later. While counseling is a cost, you must consider what your happiness is worth. If your relationship isn't satisfying, not much else in life is enjoyable. When it comes to solving couples, family or individual counseling issues, recognize the value and intelligence of a tune-up rather than waiting for the point of no return. Why suffer with a mediocre relationship, when you can co-create something much better with some coaching and effort? Life's too short not to go for the marriage you really want. It makes me so happy to be a part of making that happen for couples.