From a therapists perspective it is very easy to see what is really going on in a marriage or cohabiting relationship. First there is the body language when the couple enters the room. Then there is what they say and what they don’t say (but do with their facial expressions). What is very challenging for the therapist is when the couple comes into therapy when the relationship is doomed or on its last legs. At this point it is only futile if the couple refuses to listen to suggestions because at this point what they are really saying is “I want a divorce (or out), I am sick of him [her]”.
Marriage therapy would be more helpful if the couple could come into the office when they are beginning to realize something is just not quite right. If the other side refuses to do so, it is best to come in alone as an individual. Whomever is noticing the problem, this is the one who should come in. This would reduce the number of affairs as you would begin to nip the problem in the bud before it gets to that place.
It would also be helpful if the couple would come in when sex is just not quite right. Though whom you would see as a professional would depend on the circumstances. Some couples would do best to seek out a psychotherapist who specializes in sexual disorders. This would be for example, erectile dysfunction (also see a medical doctor), or vaginal concerns (also see a gynecologist), or premature ejaculation.Though you could see a sex therapist for any reason as a couple because sex is always part of the program.
Some sexual issues don’t necessarily need to be seen by a sexual therapist as it could just be about stress, menopause, but the big one that leads to affairs is an inability to communicate with each other.
This final part is the most important reason for marriage dysfunction. If you aren’t able to communicate very well at the onset of your relationship, it doesn’t get any better (without help). If you were able to at one point and then as a result of a crisis or other situation you suddenly find you no longer can, this will not get any better without help either.
It is so easy to fall into patterns in marriage just as people can when they live alone. Couples don’t sit down and self-analyze the status of their relationship every quarter and write-up a profit and loss statement. Instead, they go into modes of operation without thinking and end up finding themselves on autopilot. How can there be any love when two people are just going about their days as if it is just a business? After many years of this it is no wonder that people find that their partnership has grown stale and some don’t even bother (what I’ve noticed here in the Mid-west: give up on looks, health and become completely unrecognizable to what they once were). Though the latter doesn’t necessarily end the relationship oddly enough – especially if both are doing this together.
Even better would be if couples came into pre-marital therapy prior to getting married. Ideally, I’d like to see a law passed where it would be mandatory for getting a license. It’s not about taking people’s rights away but practicing common sense. As the old cliché goes, love is blind, translated means the couple are not conscious of reality, their life ahead of them.
If however you are already in the marriage, come when you believe things are starting to go awry.
There is nothing wrong with marital therapy, just as there is nothing wrong with going to the doctor when something is broken on your body. There is something wrong with families that continue to let things get worse in front of children who are frightened, concerned, unsure, unstable and steadily growing less confident and insecure as they get older.
- Couples Therapy, Alone? (blogs.wsj.com)
- The Better Marriage Project, Part I. (psychologytoday.com)
- Does couples therapy work? (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Marriage Counseling: When You Save Your Relationship? (socyberty.com)