Do you feel like you and your spouse are drifting apart? Are you worried about the future of your marriage and family?
Have difficult life events and challenges in your marriage like finances, health problems, children’s behavior or aging parents changed the way you communicate with your spouse leading to chronic conflict and withdrawal?
Do you want to rebuild and strengthen the level of trust, love, and respect between you and your spouse?
Having a good marriage requires time, intentional effort and skill. Even the best relationships experience differences of opinion, emotional distance and frustration along the way. In the same way that we consult with experts when something goes wrong with our cars or computers, it is wise to find a skilled couples counselor when you are facing difficult issues in your marriage.
Seeking help from a therapist does not mean that you have failed. Quite the contrary, it means that you are willing to seek help to resolve the issues so that healing and restoration can begin and give your family the best opportunity for success in this challenging world we live in.
One issue every couple faces is the task of developing effective communication skills and practices. When we are facing ongoing conflict in any area, those skills can break down, leaving us divided and distraught. Over time this can lead to a pattern of avoidance and resentment which makes the relationship unbearable.
Conflict in marriage is normal and even healthy. The fact that you argue is not the problem. The real issue is how lovingly and respectfully you communicate your frustrations, expectations, fears and needs to each other. Healthy couples have learned how to ‘agree to disagree’ without an emotional slug-fest or character assassination. It is possible to express reactions and differing opinions without attacking each other. Couples can learn how to see an issue from a different perspective than their own and choose to respect and respond lovingly to each other. It is all about learning how to fight fairly.
There seem to be so many tough moments!
Entering into couples counseling can be an intimidating step to take. Often couples wait to begin counseling when they are in a persistent state of crisis. We frequently hear partners saying things like, “I’m at the end of my rope,” “I don’t know what else to do,” or “I think we may be done.” Of course, we love to see couples before they get to this point so that we can help them avoid the pain and angst of crisis intervention. However, it is quite common for people to enter couples counseling when they have exhausted all their efforts and are on the verge of losing hope.
There are many reasons relationships struggle. In couples counseling, we often talk about the “big five” of relationship conflicts: money, sex, kids, work, and quality time. The majority of couples struggle with many, if not all, of these issues.
Each person in a relationship is an individual so it’s not easy to always agree, especially because both partners were likely raised in different ways and with different rules about the way to handle the “big five.”
For example, one of you may have been raised to believe that saving money for the future is important while your partner may have grown up with a ‘spend it on what you want now before something else takes priority’ set of beliefs. Parenting is another area ripe for reactions and differences of opinions. Perhaps one of you believes that children should be given as much freedom as they want for a much longer period of time than your partner does. Another issue for potential conflict in marriage is children’s allowances and behavior/discipline issues. If each of you grew up with different viewpoints in these areas then there is likely to be a great deal of conflict. Any discussion that comes out of that conflict may feel like blame and judgment. Learning to talk through these differing opinions in a respectful way is the goal of couples counseling.
Marital affairs, blended-family issues, intrusive in-laws, and childhood trauma are all topics that can stress a marriage and drive a wedge between two people who, when they said their vows, were convinced their marriage was going to be the best ever! We live in a fallen world that tempts us, challenges us, and brings us to our knees in ways we never would have imagined as we stood on the altar and declared our undying love and commitment to each other. Marriage therapy is an effective tool to restore that rich, deep, wonderful relationship that you’ve always wanted.
Couples Counseling Gives Your Marriage a Place to Begin Healing
Couples counseling is an investment in your relationship. It is a place to learn about yourself as well as your partner. This deeper understanding of yourself and the most significant person in your life can lead to a richer, more fulfilling marriage. The aim in marriage therapy is to identify and transform the difficult and ineffective cycles you and your spouse experience. This helpful instruction gives you both the power to change your relationship for the better and more fully understand why the two of you are not able to successfully deal with conflict.
As long as both partners come to the process voluntarily, there is hope. The therapist works with both of you to unlock what is behind the struggles you are having together. Frequently, the topics of your disconnect and conflict have nothing to do with the issue at hand. The couple’s therapist guides each of you to a deeper understanding of what triggers your reactions and to a higher level of compassion for the pain and fear underlying the emotional stress. It is hard work, but anything worthwhile does take some effort.
At Hope for the Journey, we have counselors trained in the protocols and tools of marriage and family therapy. Our therapists are trained to evaluate and identify the underlying dynamics going on within the individuals and the relationship. They provide perspectives unique to working with more than one person in the room. They must meet rigorous requirements before State of Colorado will acknowledge and certify them as licensed marriage and family therapists.
Although you yearn for a better marriage, some questions and concerns may give you pause . . .
I want to come to couples counseling but my spouse/partner won’t come. What do I do?
Sometimes spouses are waiting for their partner to make the first move. Such hesitation may be in response to something he/she perceives as a threat. Talking about personal issues with a stranger is uncomfortable for most people. Many people were raised with the belief that it's best to keep family issues within the family or their desire is to fix marital issues on their own. For others, it may be too embarrassing, shameful or intimidating to disclose to a therapist (or anyone for that matter) that there is something wrong with the relationship. Your spouse may need to see you experience positive changes in attitude and behavior, which in turn can encourage them to believe that couples counseling will be a helpful experience where acceptance and skills will be offered.
Won’t bringing up problems from the past just make our conflict worse?
It might. But, research has shown that troubled marriages frequently get worse before they get better. The ‘getting-worse’ stage means that you and your partner are finally starting to get to the bottom of what frightens and angers each of you. Those revelations need to be exposed so that you both can learn to deal with them differently and more effectively than you have in the past. Otherwise you will continue to repeat the same old cycle which only results in frustration and discouragement for both of you. Choosing to open the door to change is the first and most challenging step.
I’m afraid the therapist will take sides against me!
This is a common misconception that one or both people will be judged and blamed in couples counseling. It is important to know that our therapists are trained to be client centered, objective, non-judgemental and compassionate with our clients. Our mission at Hope for the Journey is to partner with you to achieve your goals and help both better understand the issues you face from a different perspective. With this new knowledge and insight you will be empowered to make better choices that can bring healing and restoration to your relationship.
Feeling stuck and not sure how to proceed?
Couples counseling takes courage as well as a willingness and readiness to change. Choosing to do nothing pretty much guarantees that nothing will change. If you are ready to make a change, please contact us by phone or email today.
To set up an appointment, call (970) 541-9066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer a free phone consultation to ask questions and see if the therapist you speak with is a good fit for you.