Is Marriage Counseling Right For You?

Learn to communicate more effectively, negotiate differences, deal with conflicts and repair after fights.

 

When you find yourself stressed out and unhappy about your relationship, there are THREE MAIN WAYS you can respond to your partner:
 
1) You can attack your partner for his/her role in  your relationship. The problem with this choice is that he/she is most likely going to attack you back.
Here is how it looks: 

  • You fight more and it takes longer to get past the fight. You find yourself regretting what you said and did during a fight.
  • You fight over small things or you can’t remember what started the fight. It feels like the fights follow a certain pattern that you can’t break.
  • You don’t communicate how you feel and what you want in a calm way. You blame your partner and focus on how he/she should change.
  • You are not proud of how you respond to your partner when you are stressed out, but you don’t know how to calm yourself and  respond differently.
  • Sex has become a struggle and a source of conflict.
  • You don’t feel connected and you need to know what your partner is doing at all times.
  • You have lost trust in your partner’s ability to be there for you.
  • You are aware that you are two different people with different perspectives, but you have trouble managing your anxiety over these differences without getting angry at your partner for being different from you.
  • You feel that you don’t know each other anymore. You feel that you have grown apart.
  • You feel angry and misunderstood and blame your partner for how you feel.
  • You rarely express feelings of sadness and anxiety.
  • You have tried everything and are close to giving up. You wonder if being yourself and being together is possible.

Couples that will do anything to avoid differences, disagreements and conflicts are angry and unhappy! Marriage Counseling / Couples therapy can help.

2) You can avoid your partner, withdraw from contact and shut down negative emotions to avoid open conflict. The problem with this choice is that when you avoid and shut down your negative emotions, you are also shutting down your positive emotions.

Here is how it looks:
  • You hardly ever communicate how you feel and what you want.
  • You feel that you haven’t been able to pursue individual interests in your relationship. You feel controlled and overpowered by your partner.
  • You have given up on being yourself with your partner. You withdraw emotionally to avoid conflict.
  • You are best friends, spending most of your time together but there is very little passion left in your relationship.
  • You are disappointed that your relationship is not the way you envisioned it would be it. You wish that your partner would change.
  • You are aware that you are two different people with different perspectives, but you have trouble managing your anxiety over these differences . You feel that your point of view is not worth mentioning.
  • You are unhappy and angry at your partner, but afraid to openly express your feelings. You need to feel understood without having to explain yourself.
  • You would like to reconnect and feel more passionate about your partner, but you fear that you are just going to make everything worse if you start expressing yourself.
3) You can reach out to your partner.
Here is how it looks:
  • You appreciate your partner.  You have at least five positive statements for every negative.
  • You listen actively to your partner without interrupting. Be aware of what your body language is communicating.
  • You express all of your emotions. Use I-statements to stay on the task of expressing yourself and not shift over to blaming (You-statements).
  • You acknowledge your differences and you are able to manage your anxiety over these differences.
  • You are curious about your partner and you are willing to reveal yourself to increase understanding of each others hopes and dreams, fears and worries.

Try This:

Make a note of how you usually respond to your partner.  

Let me know here on the blog (use a pseudonym to protect your privacy).

If you attack or avoid when you are stressed out, decide right now to start responding differently.

At your first opportunity reach out to your partner and do one thing that will make a difference for your partner. 

Ready?

 

Do you need help?

Marriage Counseling / Couples therapy can help! You will learn to:

Communicate more effectively, negotiate differences, deal with conflicts and repair after fights.

Focus on what you can do to make a difference in your relationship.

Reach out to your partner in new ways to increase understanding of each other.

Reconnect by changing how you react to your partner in stressful situations.

Are you ready to work on your marriage/relationship?

Let’s talk about how I can help!  I offer a 2 hour first consultation for the price of one!  click here for contact information

Go to FAQ for answers to your questions or email me at irenesavarese@yahoo.com

This site has over 50 articles to help you and your partner reconnect. Use the search box in the top right corner of this page.

Photo of hostile arguing couple is by hang in there

Photo of avoidant and angry ressistant couple is by John Walker

Photo of loving couple is by Zylenia






19 thoughts on “Is Marriage Counseling Right For You?

  1. Cara Rogers

    Great article, I can say I was an option 1 in several relationships. As you can tell when I say several apparently that isn’t the right option to choose. I like your third option here and with couples counselling have learned how to do just those things and take control of emotion. Using “I” instead of “You” when talking or disputing anything makes a massive difference so great job on that one. Nice article I’m glad I read it.

    Reply
    1. irenesavarese

      Thank you Mark for your comment and visiting again – much appreciated!
      Yes, we all try to do more of #3. Often I see attacking and defending own views without ability to see the others point of view. Then, when feeling discouraged and defeated, avoiding sets in. When everything has blown over we try to reach out – and then the cycle starts again next time there is a difference of opinion and feelings are hurt.
      Couples therapy can help in recognizing the pattern and learning to consciously break the urge to attack and avoid together!
      irenesavarese recently posted..What Geese Can Teach Couples About TeamworkMy Profile

      Reply
  2. Claire Stone

    Very thorough post! You spell out the behaviors of attacking and withdrawing very well. And your suggestions on how to reach out to your partner are clear and concrete. I’m sure couples will find this helpful.

    Reply
    1. irenesavarese

      Very good point Kathy!
      There are many combinations of styles. For some couples both are avoidant or both are attacking, for other couples the partner’s have opposite styles. Sometimes avoidance behavior looks innocent and happy, where the avoidant partner is hiding behind a victim role, not able to see that the behavior is always a choice. It is easier to blame the attacking partner than taking a look at own behavior.
      I think that most partners can recognize that they use all three kinds. My aim is to raise the awareness of what it is we are doing and do more of the reaching out.
      irenesavarese recently posted..“One Plus One Is Greater Than Two” – Are You Ready To Do What You Need To Do To Save Your Marriage?My Profile

      Reply
  3. Linda Esposito

    “You rarely express feelings of sadness and anxiety.”

    That is a very powerful inclination that anger is the predominant emotion. It’s hard to appear vulnerable and “weak” by expressing feelings. Such a pity that anger makes us feel strong, powerful and alive…

    I agree with Bill–very comprehensive. I like the suggestion of five compliments to every criticism.
    Linda Esposito recently posted..10 Steps to Become Less Anxious (Poster)My Profile

    Reply
    1. irenesavarese

      Thank you Linda!
      We have to figure out what the angry feelings are about and choose how to respond. It is not easy to express anger calmly and respectfully, but nevertheless an important task for couples.
      I think anger makes us feel strong, powerful and alive for a short time. To recognize feelings of sadness and anxiety are what is going to make us stronger in the long run. Real strength is about sharing vulnerabilities.
      irenesavarese recently posted..Dealing With Anger As A TeamMy Profile

      Reply

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