Forty to fifty percent of couples end up separated.
Terrifying as it is, this sky-scraping statistic only goes to prove how little faith we have in this incredible, sublime, headache-inducing, heart-wrenching, inconsistent, but mostly magnificent institution we call marriage. If only we’d put a half of all the energy we waste on holding grudges into repairing what’s broken, our ordinary love stories would be retold as fairy tales. The happily ever after would be ours.
If only we’d sit down and talked.
Of course, some conflicts do require mediation. There are recurring obstacles and deep-rooted issues that we can’t always remove on our own, no matter how hard we try. But where there is love, there is a way. Your marriage might be facing problems so severe that it all seems beyond repair. You may have lost your spark along the way. But if there is a will, then there is a solution to your heartache too.
Here’s why it may be a good time to visit a marriage counselor.
All Healthy Relationships Depend on Communication
When a marriage hits a rock bottom, it’s usually due to a failure to communicate.
It’s when you and your partner stop talking about things that really matter (read: your feelings) or you start being very vocal in expressing your disappointments, judgments, and regrets. Both are equally detrimental because all healthy relationships depend on communication that’s open and productive.
The discourse most unhappy couples choose is one that blocks the ability of active listening. Instead of hearing each other out, you simply yell what’s on your mind. Productive communication requires a dialogue – it speaks to be heard and listens before it speaks. Luckily, it’s a skill that can be developed.
A marriage counselor’s goal is to help couples master this skill. The mediation process removes the pressure that comes with having to say hurtful things to the person you love and then facilitates more productive ways of getting through to each other. If that’s your weak link, a marriage counselor will help you out.
A Marriage Is a Delicate Balance Between Me and Us
Setting healthy boundaries between “me” and “us” is key to successful marriage.
A failure to separate these two instances leads to two scenarios – you either lose your identities or start living separate lives. In the first case, your marriage becomes an unhealthy symbiosis where neither person can discover one’s true self. Your only definition of you is through your partner’s eyes.
Such identity loss may seem very innocent in the beginning and is often contributed to that exciting feeling of not wanting to be separated for even a second. You spend all your time together and you share every single experience. The only other people you can hang out with are your mutual friends.
But then, this symbiosis starts to feel a bit claustrophobic and suffocating. There’s no room for either of you to live your separate dreams and work on your separate goals. Before you know it, you start blaming your partner for all the wrong choices you’ve made and all the things you’ve missed out on.
A Marriage Is About Leading Separate Lives Together
In the other case, symbiotic partners often start drifting away from one another.
A marriage is about having a freedom to live separate lives together. We’re not talking about open marriages here, of course, but about relationships that are founded on honesty and trust. It’s an exercise of the wedding vows themselves, a communion of two people based on respect and support.
More than anything else, it’s a partnership of equal parties. When both partners keep working on their own personal growth and development, then admiration and attraction can never be lost. You can never stop surprising each other because every day is a new exciting experience. A new exciting spark.
It seems easy in theory, but it’s way more difficult in practice. Luckily, that’s what marriage counselors are for – to teach you, through exercise, how, when, and where to set these boundaries between who you are as individuals with their personal needs and who you are as a couple that shares everything.
Shaping and Changing Are Entirely Different Things
If you’re very lucky, your partner will shape you for the better.
Most couples confuse the positive influence love and partnership should have on a person for a never-ending strand of demands to change into something that person is not. If you’ve married a passive individuality, you can’t expect them to be more assertive. Changing a person’s core is simply selfish.
It’s one thing to encourage your partner to grow, and it’s an entirely different thing to blame them for not being what you expect them to be. The first is about being supportive, while the second implies disappointment and disrespect. The only person you are supposed to reshape and change is yourself.
For this common marital problem, counselors usually recommend both couples and individual therapy. If you’re eager to change the person you love, then you must ask yourself first whether or not this person is truly who you want to be with. If the answer is yes, then you need a better approach.
A Husband and Wife Are Supposed to Be a Team
Your partner is not your adversary.
It’s a comforting thing to remember when you’re in the middle of a bad fight. That’s why most successful couples claim that friendship is the foundation for a happy marriage – as long as you see the person you are with as somebody who is on your team, nothing and no one will be able to stand in your way.
It’s not difficult to forget this when circumstances aren’t working in your favor. You may feel alone and helpless, but that’s okay. You’re an adult now, and you have it in you to solve your problems without your partner holding your hand. It’s enough to have them rooting for you from the sidelines.
If you’re experiencing any one of these problems, and if you’ve already tried to talk it through, then it may be a good moment to seek mediation. A marriage counselor can help you remember that you are together for a good reason. Everything else is up to you. Once again, love is always a good way to start.