Let's be honest, being in a relationship that is struggling is HARD. It seems that you spend much of your energy attempting to prevent a fight, getting your point across during the fight, or attempting to self-soothe after the fight. Before you know it weeks, months, even years have passed. Being happy together is becoming a distant memory. Sometimes it seems easier to leave. The truth is, leaving is not easier. Rewriting your dreams and redefining your identity is not easier. Leaving may seem easier right not because it promises to stop the pain. Many couples find that the temporary solution to leave creates a more permanent pain. If you are not in an abusive relationship you owe it to yourself, your family, and your future to make sure you have done everything to preserve what you have built.
Most of us know that person who seems to have never quite recovered from the divorce. They live with regret, shame, or anger. They seem to wear their bitterness like a cloak around their shoulders. In my practice when I meet these folks I realize that they gave up before healing. Some people are able to go on with life after the breakup to be healthier and happier. The success stories are usually a result of hard work on why the relationship failed, either as a couple or individually. These folks have worked hard to make sure they are able to walk away with a clear conscience. When you said your wedding vows you had dreams of what life would be like together, are you ready to give up on those dreams without doing everything in your power to save them?
Not Just Any Therapist
Marriage therapy is not interchangeable with other types of therapy; therefore not every therapist can (or should) provide marriage therapy. A qualified clinican can also assist you in determining if you want to stay in the relationship. A therapist that was great helping your friend with anxiety may not be the best choice to help you with your marriage. Clinicians need specialized training in order to be effective. This training is not obtained in most graduate school programs or even with years of experience. A clinician needs to have extensive training in what makes relationships successful and be able to guide a couple from their current destructive patterns to healthier ones or help you decide if divorce is your best option. Learning communications skills is essential for climbing the corporate ladder but they will not save your marriage.
Cost vs. Benefit
Saving your relationship will cost you. This cost is not simply measured in dollars and cents; although quality relationship work is not usually cheap (although usually cheaper than divorce). Entering into therapy to save a marriage may require you to take a hard look at yourself and your spouse. It may even cause you to challenge beliefs you have held onto your entire life. It may cost you time and emotional effort. Success is not easy in any facet of life. If you want to excel at anything it will take practice and determination. It will be hard sometimes. The benefits are worth it. Having a best friend to go through life with is worth the cost. Feeling secure, supported, and loved is worth the cost. Self-esteem and empowerment is worth the cost. You are worth the cost.
Our society is not supportive of working through the tough times in a marriage. We are inundated with information that tells us to be happy now and worry about the future later. We are trained to expect instant gratification with little effort. We expect instant results for almost no exertion. Marriages cannot survive on auto-pilot. Before you leave ask yourself this question: "Have I really done EVERYTHING in my power to make this work?" If you have yet to try counseling with a qualified marriage therapy could you honestly answer "yes"?