Shrink Wrap

What we can learn from the trials and triumphs of celebrity relationships.

Gwen Stefani: When Is It Time To Get Help?

Is your marriage in trouble?

Another Hollywood marriage might be in trouble. It has been reported that Gwen Stefani and her husband Gavin Rossdale are having problems. She was recently seen leaving the office of a couples therapist, clearly upset.

A friend was quoted as saying that the two didn’t laugh together the way they used to, and were spending more and more time apart. Their marriage has already seen some rocky moments, but so far they have been able to push through them. Only time will tell if the counseling will help them this go-around. But it does raise the question: When is it a good time to seek help? Do you wait for a crisis or do you head it off at the pass before reaching rock bottom, and the issue you’re facing becomes a monumental problem? And what if you want to, but your partner refuses?

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Getting there together might be one of the biggest obstacles. Often, if there is a problem in the relationship, blame is placed and one person might tell the other to get help. But that comes across as negative, and sometimes serves only to put the other person on the defensive. Try, instead, to keep it positive. Point out what you’ve noticed is missing between you lately – maybe your sex life has dropped off, maybe you don’t have as much fun with each other as you used to, maybe those long weekends or your weekly date nights have become a thing of the past. And then explain that you wish you could get that old feeling back. You miss being more connected. Tell your partner that you think it could help you to talk to someone together so you can figure out how to get through to each other. Make it clear that it’s important enough to you that you intend to go with or without them, and then ask them to join you.

If you’ve avoided getting help and are now faced with a betrayal, then seeking counseling to do some damage control is pretty much a given. If, on the other hand, you want to strengthen and energize your relationship, asking for help before the walls come tumbling down, how do you know when that time comes? There are some specific indications that will let you know it’s a good idea to look for outside support.

An obvious big sign that things are going awry is a change in your sex life. Have you lost your desire to have sex with your partner? Or is your partner always making an excuse to avoid having sex with you? If you are constantly feeling rejected or undesirable, not dealing with that and leaving it unresolved will only serve to make those feelings worse over time. Another sign is that you keep having the same fight over and over and can’t resolve it. In my book What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, I talk about the never ending fight - that one issue that keeps coming up again and again. She’s always late, he doesn’t make an effort to get along with your parents, she’s always spending money – whatever that one issues is that constantly upsets you and around which you just can’t seem to reach a compromise. If you are always feeling angry and resentful, talking to a third party might be a good idea. Finally, have you or your partner stopped trying to talk to each other about the things that bother you, saying what’s the point? Contrary to what it might feel like at first, sometimes that quietness isn’t a sign that things have improved, but rather a sign that someone has given up. So if you’re feeling resigned and have a sense of futility, it is time to get help. In the end, too much arguing or none at all can be flags.

It is hard to know what point Gwen and Gavin reached. But no matter where you are in your relationship, in essence, if you’re always feeling unhappy or disappointed, or that you aren’t important enough to your partner, reaching out for counseling would be a timely thing.

Please tune in to "Let's Talk Sex" which streams live on HealthyLife.net every last Tuesday of the month at 2 PM EST, 11 AM Pacific. We look forward to listener call-in questions, dealing with relationships, intimacy, family, and friendships, at 1.800.555.5453.

Connect with Dr. Jane Greer on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/DrJaneGreer, and be sure to follow @DrJaneGreer on Twitter for her latest insights on love, relationships, sex, and intimacy.

 

Jane Greer, Ph.D., is a Marriage and Family Therapist, author of What about Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship, and radio host of Doctor on Call.

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