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According to a recent Pew Research survey, nearly nine in 10 Americans cited love as the top reason to walk down the aisle. But sometimes love isn’t enough. Although more than 90 percent of people in Western cultures marry by the time they turn 50, successful relationships require a lot of work. At some point, you may struggle to find that special connection with your long-term partner or find yourselves arguing more often than ever before. You may even discover a betrayal from which you aren’t sure you can recover.
The reality is that relationships evolve over time. Some couples manage to happily stay together for decades, while others may find that they’re ill-suited for the relationship. Sadly, up to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. And in Baltimore, the divorce rate in 2011 was anywhere from 8.5 to 10.5 percent. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. While every couple is different, marriage counseling can be extremely helpful for partners who are committed to improving their relationship. Here are some signs you and your partner might want to consider going to therapy.
1. You’re dealing with infidelity.
One 2015 survey found that nearly one in five Americans admitted to cheating on their partners. But while it’s a relatively common relationship problem, it’s not one that can be swept under the rug. Infidelity is often thought to be one of the most hurtful experiences for spouses to experience, as it culminates in betrayal and damage of trust within the relationship. If you’re determined to forgive and your partner is committed to never making the same mistake again, your therapist in Baltimore can help you improve your communication, rebuild trust, and work through your emotions in a safe and healthy setting. While some couples find they can’t get past this indiscretion, others are able to strengthen their relationship even more thanks to the skills and knowledge they acquire in counseling.
2. Mental illness or addiction plays a role.
If one partner is already attending therapy in some form for mental health or addiction issues, it’s important to remember that both of these kinds of diseases also affect those who are closest to that partner. Arguably, the spouse is also going to be impacted significantly, particularly if these issues are ongoing. Drug- and alcohol-related deaths soared in Maryland during 2017, which means there are likely a great many Baltimore residents in relationships who are struggling with addiction issues. Although it’s essential to prioritize one’s own treatment first and foremost, it may be beneficial to add couples’ counseling to your regimen. More than likely, the healthy partner may have some issues of their own to work through. And if mental health or addiction represents a negative factor within the relationship, discussions facilitated by a professional can be incredibly important for each partner’s wellbeing and for the future of the relationship.
3. There’s a lack of sexual chemistry.
No one likes to admit that their attraction to their partner is dwindling or that their relationship is virtually devoid of physical affection. But this issue is probably more common than you’d think. Research shows that that 15 to 20 percent of couples are in sexless marriages. That said, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s healthy. There are several potential reasons for a reduced interest in being intimate, but none of them will get resolved if partners refuse to address the problem. It could be a medical issue, brought on by medications or older age. It could also be rooted in anxiety or lack of self-confidence. It’s even possible that you could simply be bored in the bedroom or are so busy that you have no energy left over for intimate activities. A therapist can help you discover what’s really causing your disinterest and guide communications to improve your connection with your spouse.
4. You disagree on major decisions.
No one’s saying you have to agree on absolutely everything. A difference in opinions can make life a lot more interesting. But there’s a huge disparity between bickering about what to make for dinner and disagreeing on how to raise your children. Ideally, these are discussions you’d have prior to getting married, of course. But opinions can change over time, which can make it surprising when you suddenly are politically at-odds with someone you’ve known for years. If you disagree on fundamental issues like religion, money, parenting, or monogamy, it’s possible that those opinions simply aren’t going to be swayed. Working with a counselor can allow you to focus on those issues and determine whether a compromise can be made (and love and respect can still be shared), or whether those differences will only continue to drive you apart.
5. Your relationship lacks consistent communication.
Open communication is at the core of all relationships. It’s a necessary component upon which your partnership can grow. Without it, you’ll likely feel disconnected from your spouse and even resentful of their inability to invite you into their inner world in a real way. Sometimes, each partner will have very different styles of communication, which can hinder mutual understanding. Whether you feel hurt because your partner never asks you about your day, your spouse takes issue with your tone during squabbles, or neither of you is able to come up with a resolution after having a difficult conversation, you’ll likely need guidance to improve your communication within your partnership. Otherwise, you may end up avoiding addressing anything serious, which can exacerbate the underlying problems. Your therapist can assess the issues you face in your attempts to communicate with each other and provide you with better tools that will allow each person to feel heard and appreciated.
Although not every relationship can (or should) be saved by going to therapy, it’s a welcome option for couples who are willing to put the work in and require assistance in figuring out the root of their shared problems. Before you give up on your relationship altogether, you may want to consider trying out some counseling sessions in attempt to re-establish your connection with your spouse and improve upon the foundation you’ve built together.