Couples Therapy: Is it a Midlife Crisis or a Rough Patch?
While the stereotypical midlife crisis often plays out on television with the husband buying a sports car, it's a lot different in real life. Most couples simply hit a rough patch in their marriage. They often feel overwhelmed and confused about how to parent a "difficult" child or can't keep up with the credit cards. Middle-age angst is a lot easier to handle with couples therapy. Instead of questioning the relationship, question your response to stressors in life. A good therapist helps you figure out how to work on yourself as well as the relationship. According to an article by cnn.com, couples can navigate the rough patches in an older marriage as well as prevent problems by working on several key relationship issues with a therapist.
Communicating Instead of Agreeing
Instead of striving to agree about everything, make a better effort to communicate. Couples who make it don't necessarily share the same interest or opinions. But they learn how to talk to one another in a way that doesn't minimize one person's feelings. Communicating in a healthy way means realizing your partner can't read your mind.
Making it About Yourself
Making it about yourself does not mean taking a selfish perspective. Instead, it's about taking self-responsibility. Instead of shifting blame, figure out how you can change to improve the relationship. Some spouses feel as though their partner injured their ego or embarrassed them by gaining weight or ignoring their needs. A therapist helps you make a paradigm shift in the way you look at the marriage.
Going to Bed Free of Anger
People with happy marriages often say they never go to bed angry. By addressing issues early in the day, it's easier to hash things out before bedtime. Don't bring up money problems just before hitting the hay. At the same time, talk about finances since money problems are frequently described as one of the hardest parts in a marriage. Reserve the evening and nighttime for romantic cuddling, intimacy and relaxation. A spouse who feels neglected in the area of romance could feel punished. Avoid giving the "silent treatment" or pulling away when your partner wants a hug. Ignoring signals leads some partners to feel as though marriage is more of a prison sentence than a choice.
Lending a Listening Ear
Some spouses do all the talking, cutting of the other person. Becoming an active listener in another great skill for overcoming the midlife rough patches in a marriage. In fact, some men say the reason they start up an affair isn't for the sex. They want someone to take the time to hear their side of the story. Avoid acting dismissive or criticizing when another person wants to feel understood. It's important to listen so your spouse doesn't feel as though he or she is isolated and alone within the relationship. During counseling, many people learn how to use their entire body to communicate effectively with a partner.
Couples therapy isn't a magic wand that makes a failing marriage perfect. If a martial rough patch turns into a collapsed bridge scheduled for a demolition, handle the divorce with grace and dignity. Getting a divorce isn't a failure, but it's worth preventing. It's possible to heal from infidelity, bankruptcy, or job loss as well as any other midlife crisis. Many couples decide to get a fresh start by renewing wedding vows, going on a romantic getaway or renovating the home for more family time. Oftentimes it's the experiences and times spent together that makes a marriage work as opposed to material items. For more information about couples therapy, call me at (215) 297-8361 or you can also send me an email.