Marital issues can be some of the hardest trials a person can face. Your spouse should be the one person who unconditionally supports you and cheers you on, and yet they have become the person who makes you feel bad about yourself. If you are dealing with negative feelings in your marriage, consider the following suggestions to help get you back on the path of a happy relationship.
Give it Time
When you are trying to rebuild a broken relationship with your spouse, it is easy to start expecting things to happen right away. After the first "I'm sorry", you might immediately expect a romantic spark. After the first week of talking through things, you might shrug it off and start to focus on other things. But it's time to remember that you get out of a relationship what you put into it. Something that is fixed in a sloppy way will be far likely to break again soon. Rebuilding relationships will take time. And when you accept that, it will be easier for you to embrace the process.
Take a Step Back
Marriage is no sprint. It's more like running a marathon... and sometimes you need a breather. Perhaps it's time to back away from the constant fighting, and simply assess your relationship. Clear your mind of the issues that are coming between you - money, time spent working, household chores, life goals, other people, etc. Don't allow yourself to bring up specific incidents. Don't compare the money you've each spent. Don't accuse your spouse for spending too much time in the office. Don't tell your spouse that they don't care about you because of x, y, and z. Instead, simply think about the relationship. Specifically think about what you want out of the relationship.
A relationship goes both ways. No one person is completely right or completely wrong. Chances are you are both at fault in some areas and you both have some legitimate concerns about each other. You can't control what your partner does. But you can control what you do. Try to put yourself in your spouse's shoes. How might they feel about the way you are acting? How have you hurt them? Apologize and adjust your behavior where necessary. It is painful to admit where we are wrong. But it is far more painful to let a relationship die because we are unwilling to change.
So you have stepped back and assessed your relationship and your own behavior. Now it is okay to let your partner know what has hurt you so much about their actions. Start thinking about your expectations for the relationship. Are they reasonable? If so, it's time to voice these expectations to your partner. Don't yell. Don't patronize. But do, clearly, kindly, and calmly, tell your partner what you want in the relationship and how your needs are not being met. Ask your partner how you are not meeting their needs. Be open with them if you think you cannot meet their expectations.
This might be the last thing on your list. You might feel embarrassed to share your struggles with someone. You might feel like you don't need help - you can do this on your own. Firstly, it might help you to realize that you are not alone. Many couples have struggled with the exact same things that you are struggling with! And, to be honest, just a little bit of help can go a long way in healing a wounded relationship. If you know of an older, wiser friend who can give you marriage advice, go for it! Or, find a professional. Often, marriage counseling can be the turning point in a relationship.
If you need a compassionate, trustworthy counselor to help you along your journey, please contact me. I will help you find joy in your relationship once again.
Getting Back on Track
When you're living in a marriage that has gotten off-track somewhere along the way, you feel utterly alone. The divide between you and your spouse while sharing the same home feels like an ocean. When you entrust your relationship to a professional counselor like Mary Shull, your decision gives both partners a glimpse of hope. You both also receive immediate access to her expert intervention tools. Furthermore, she helps you and your spouse choose strategies that alleviate the current stressful situation. Through couples therapy, it's possible to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and, with your partner's help, to explore your joint and individual relationship needs.
Five Reasons to Try Couples Therapy and Reduce Isolation
- You want to address unmet emotional needs. There are common problems in relationships that result in one or both of you not getting the love, support, and nurturing you need from the other partner. These problems can include infidelity, abuse, addiction, and conflict.
- You seek insights into why the relationship went wrong, usually because of at least one important issue. It could be a pattern of poor communication after a major life event such as cancer or a pattern of personal habits that you can no longer tolerate in your partner. What's more, one or both of you may feel bored in the relationship or wish to find intimacy with a new partner. Sitting down with a neutral person and having to discuss the status of the marriage, the perspectives of both partners, and what the future might look like could bring these issues to the surface.
- You want to improve your self-esteem because relationship problems have led you to doubt your own ability to make this situation work. You made a choice to enter this relationship, but you aren't sure about its survival. If your relationship is suffering, there are noticeable effects on your daily habits. For example, you might not be sleeping well, eating right, working out, or providing the same level of performance at work. If you don't address relationship problems, you could enter into a state of depression or manifest other health issues.
- You want to identify whether this relationship is something in which you will invest more time and energy. Your professional counselor can help you determine if it's worth saving. For many adults, their decision has much to do with whether the other partner wants to invest in fixing issues and building stronger patterns for the future. For example, one may not be willing to accept a spouse who cheats and may not believe that he or she won't do it again.
- You can determine any aspects of the relationship that could be harming you, including abusive patterns that affect your health and well-being. For example, you could be blaming your financial problems on your spouse's low earnings or bad spending habits, but you refuse to recognize that he doesn't treat you well. There are also ways that you might be hurting the relationship and fail to accept when your partner mentions them.
Being concerned about your relationship is an important step that has led you to consider couples therapy. Knowing there is a problem will make it easier to start fixing it. At the practice of Mary Shull, couples can receive confidential therapy at a time that fits their schedules. If you need to come more often to resolve urgent matters, especially problems impacting your kids, please contact us. We want to help couples learn more about their own mental health and relationship needs so they can maintain strong partnerships in the future. Couples therapy doesn't take sides, but it does produce mutually beneficial solutions.