Don’t wait to get help with your marriage, especially if your relationship has become so unhappy that you’re thinking about what it would be like if you were not married to your spouse. Our colleague, psychologist and relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman, once observed that it takes couples an average of six years1 of unhappiness before seeking therapy. That’s a long time to let a relationship fester.
It’s not entirely difficult to imagine how this could be true. As spouses, we have busy lives, individual and shared goals, careers, and families to look after. Our commitments and responsibilities take time and energy, sometimes leaving us with fewer resources to invest in our marriages.
Many of us also feel that we have the image of a happy, successful marriage to uphold. Seeking therapy means we have to acknowledge that something is “wrong”…right?
Truthfully, marriage counseling can be beneficial for “happy” and “unhappy” couples alike. Couples therapy helps with everything from fostering stronger bonds to exploring new avenues for growth and connection. But if there is an issue affecting your marriage, the sooner you seek professional support for it, the easier it is to address it, generally speaking.
Other than relying on your own intuition (which matters a lot!), are there some clues you can look for that will tell you it’s time to consider marriage counseling? Here are three possible signs we invite couples to notice:
1. You fantasize about being alone.
It’s normal to wonder about the life you’d have if you weren’t with your spouse. But frequently fantasizing about being alone, being with someone else, or even being a widow or widower could mean that a part of you is seeking an escape from your marriage.
If the idea of your relationship changing significantly in some way brings you a sense of relief, a counselor is important for helping you sort out these feelings.
2. You feel as if your spouse doesn’t respect you.
It hurts to be misunderstood or not accepted for who you are. And while we all have opportunities to develop our character and improve parts of ourselves, we are also always worthy of respect and dignity.
If you face criticism, insults, dishonesty, and other acts of disrespect from your spouse, or if you frequently feel like you need to “walk on eggshells” when you’re around them, a therapist will be a valuable asset to help you address these red flags together.
3. You sense a lack of connection.
Physical and emotional connection is the undercurrent of any fulfilling marriage. When that lack of connection is present—especially when a couple is going through a major life change or challenge—it can cause a great deal of pain and fear.
A sense of disconnection is especially confusing and painful when everything in your marriage appears to be “fine,” at least on the surface.
A counselor can help you understand what’s driving the sense of disconnect you feel. Together they can work with you to help clarify your perceptions and needs by offering a more objective, balanced look at your marriage dynamics. The ultimate goal of counseling is helping both spouses feel seen, heard, connected, and happy in your relationship.
- What Should I Do When My Wife Ignores Me?
- How to Stop Your Husband or Wife from Wanting to Leave
- How to Deal with a Needy Spouse
- How to Stop Silent Treatment in Marriage
- Communication Coaching for Married Couples
Are You Seeing Signs You Need Couples Counseling?
Contact The Marriage Restoration Project today at 443-570-7598 to schedule an appointment with Rabbi Slatkin or learn more about how Imago therapy can help you and your spouse revamp your relationship.
1. The Gottman Institute, “Timing is Everything When It Comes To Marriage Counseling”. Retrieved March 22, 2022 from: https://www.gottman.com/blog/timing-is-everything-when-it-comes-to-marriage-counseling/