Couples counseling has helped many relationships come back from the brink. And even if you and your partner do decide to split, couples counseling can help you have a "healthier" breakup.
Following are 7 signs that your relationship may be in serious trouble and that help may be beneficial. There are always exceptions, though, and certainly, if there is any type of abuse in your relationship, seek help immediately:
1. You're spending more and more time apart.
Having separate interests is a good thing. Using separate interests as an excuse to get away from your partner is not. When your relationship is struggling, you look for reasons not to come home, or you drive home filled with dread. This is not a healthy way to live.
2. Your beliefs have become vastly different.
People change. Sometimes they change to the point where one person's beliefs or ideals become the opposite of his or her partner's. Differences in interests, hobbies, or movies aren't that big a deal, as long as you still have common beliefs and understandings. But sometimes people change to the point where one partner has a belief system that is simply incompatible with, or deplorable to, the other partner.
3. You feel more relaxed and "yourself" when your partner is not around.
We all sometimes feel like we can "exhale" when our partner's not around. You can be yourself. You can eat spaghetti with sauce over your white carpet without anyone freaking out. There's a sense of relaxation you get when you have the house to yourself. But you can enjoy that solitude and still miss having your partner. It's very different, though, when you are constantly saying to yourself, "Thank God he'll be gone for the rest of the day." That's a problem.
4. You and your partner have stopped talking, except for everyday things, like "Pass the butter."
Relationships are about communication. When you are just communicating niceties to avoid touching on difficult issues, something needs to change—quickly. A cold relationship is a tough thing to face every day. You want a partner that wants to know you what's happening in your life, and vice versa.
5. You rarely have sex anymore, if ever.
Physical intimacy can be as important as emotional intimacy. There are various reasons why couples may not be having sex—a woman may have recently given birth, or a man may have had prostate surgery. But even in such situations, healthy couples still find ways to touch and caress. When there's a lack of basic physical contact, that's a serious issue.
6. You used to have "discussions." Now you have arguments.
No one hears what you are saying when you are yelling. And after a while, that yelling doesn't even have an impact on the other person—he or she will just tune it out. If you find yourselves constantly arguing over "dealbreaker" issues about which you can't even agree to disagree—whether to have kids, for example, or how to manage your debt—it's time to reevaluate the relationship.
7. You have open contempt for each other.
This isn't a feeling of "You are annoying me right now." Contempt approaches outright hate. You can't stand the way they eat toast. Sex is out of the question. When you talk to each other, your body language consists of folded arms and aggressive stance. You even get to the point where you're comfortable showing contempt for your partner in front of other people.
If you're experiencing these difficulties in your relationship, seek the help of a counselor. If you feel things are beyond repair, counseling can still help you address inevitable feelings of loss and grief over the breakup.
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