Knowing when to begin the process of finding a marriage counselor is an arduous task for some couples. Marital distress is exhausting and seemingly all consuming, but some couples assume it will get better over time. This is true for some, but not true for many others. Many marriages suffer unnecessarily because the couple waits so long to reach out. My experience with couples tells me if you are thinking about it, you should probably take that insight seriously; it may save your relationship. Here are some signs that it may be time to seek assistance with getting your relationship back on track.
You Acknowledge Your Relationship Is Not Working
Some people expect their marital bond and happiness to decline over time. This is not the natural life cycle of a relationship. If you find that your marriage is suffering, stagnant, or emotionally painful than it is not working. We can feel when our relationships are not working. We no longer look forward to coming home from work or spending time together. Small disagreements turn into huge arguments. Neither of you feel loved, supported, or appreciated. You may have even tried to fix it on your own but nothing seems to work. This may mean it is time to reach out for help.
You Need A Blueprint For A Successful Marriage
Most of us haven't the slightest idea how to make a marriage work in 2017. The blueprint set forth by successful marriages in previous generations has become outdated. We have concerns we did not have in the past. We have to juggle social media, unlimited internet access, many of us have double income households, children, great careers, building businesses, etc. We struggle to figure out what our relationships are supposed to look like. If this is your struggle, you may consider an objective, well-trained ear to help you to define what your successful relationship will look like.
Things Are Not Getting Better
Every relationship has ups and downs. Some days you tell yourself that forever is not long enough to be in love with this person. Other days you question why you chose this person in the first place. Bumps in the road are normal and healthy. You will not be madly in love all of the time. Some days you will just be mad. You may consider making the call to a relationship therapist when the bad days far outweigh the good days, or the good days are so far and few between that you have lost track. This is a sign you may need some tools to help you communicate with one another more effectively.
Some people still struggle with the stigma of couples counseling as if they are admitting defeat. This belief could not be further from truth. You are admitting defeat when you don't try. You are most powerful when you decide to work toward what you want. Relationship therapy is about investing in the commitment you made to one another. The road back to one another is not easy, but it is definitely worth it.
I'm usually not a fan of Jay Z's music; however I was intrigued when the articles about 4:44 flooded my timeline. I had to check it out. What I found was the most honest, emotional, vulnerable Hip Hop track I've heard in a very long time. The lyrics reminded me of all of the partners who found themselves drowning in guilt and despair after their affair. As it is a response to his wife Beyonce's Lemonade album, I noticed it also parallels many of the "power couples" I meet in my counseling office, grasping to hold together the pieces of their own marriages after infidelity.
What was most striking was his very public, very personal apology. He didn't try to hide behind excuses, he took responsibility without being defensive. As a Marriage Counselor who specializes in affair recovery I applaud his effort. He gets it. A couple will never recover without the heartfelt, vulnerable, emotional apology.
I apologize. Our love was one for the ages and I contained us in all this rachet s***. We are more expansive now. Meant to cry and die alone in these mansions or sleep with our back turned. We're supposed to vacate till our backs burn. We're supposed to laugh till our hearts stops and then meet in the space where the dark stops and let love light the way.- Jay Z's 4:44
There are so many themes in these lyrics that mirror the themes I see in my therapy office. Two people who are on the top of the world being crushed by the hurt that was created between them. People assume they have a perfect life because of what can be seen from the outside. This is a relationship where both powerful and successful in their own rights, yet struggling with the pain of a crumbling marriage behind closed doors. Many people say they would leave if they ever encountered an affair. Some do because many times it is easier than sorting through the emotional wreckage. But, some brave souls who love each other, want desperately to preserve the love they had, and their dreams for their future roll up their sleeves and do the hard work that it takes to save their marriages.
My client couples amaze me with their unwavering hard work and dedication to their careers. They are business people, CEOs, entrepreneurs, professionals, and politicians. They build awesome careers and are usually pillars of the community. They come in broken, hurting, and exhausted. Something incredible happens when they learn to channel the characteristics that made them successful into rebuilding their relationship. They find that they are able to thrive in their career and their relationships.
Jay Z and Beyonce's struggles are not unique to them. The feelings of disconnect, hurt, sadness, grief, guilt, and shame are all part of the experience of infidelity. The therapy comes from the journey back to healing. This journey begins with a very real, very open, very emotionally raw apology. The marriage that is built from the wreckage promises to be stronger than the original. I'm glad they were both brave enough to share this with the world through their music. Hopefully others will be inspired to do the hard work of recovering after infidelity as well.
If you need help recovering after infidelity, I would be happy to help. Click here to learn more.