Just about every time a couple comes into me for counseling, they probably should have come to see me about a year ago. Usually, the problem they’re coming to see me for started about a year ago and they’re just now coming to see me for it. I used to ask why they waited so long to come see me but I don’t anymore. Why? Because they all said the same thing: we just thought we had problems the same as every couple. We didn’t realize we needed counseling.
So how do you know when you and your spouse are going through “normal” difficulties or when you need to go to counseling? Well, here’s a few tips.
Time is not always on your side. First of all, if the problem in your marriage persists for two months or more then you should probably go see a counselor. Not many problems that occur for more than two months solve themselves. I’ll admit, sometimes they do. But it’s better to err on the safe side and go see a counselor anyway. Once the problem has been occurring for a long time, old habits get set in place, and more hurt occurs which makes counseling harder. Again, err on the safe side and go see a counselor sooner than later.
Just because other couples have the same problem doesn’t mean it’s no big deal. Lots of couples come in saying that they didn’t think their problem was such a big deal because lots of other couples have talked about similar problems. The truth is, every couple is unique. What is no big deal for one couple could be a make or break situation for another couple. Besides, just because other couples have been having a similar problem doesn’t mean they’re not going to counseling to help for it. Don’t judge your relationship based on other couples. If you feel you need some help in your relationship do what you have to do and get help. It’s your marriage after all. The less time you spend arguing or made at each other the better you will be.
“I just need my space”. If you or your spouse begin saying this, that’s a big red flag that your problems have got bad enough that you should probably see a counselor. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate that couples need space. The problem is that once you’re in a relationship and you’re having a problem the best way to heal is to heal together. Requesting space usually means that couples will heal apart which usually only creates more distance – and more problems. So if you’re having a problem in your marriage that you’ve heard others have but feel like you just need some space, do exactly the opposite and get together with your spouse to see a counselor.
You be the judge. Ultimately, you know yourself and your relationship best. Even if you’re having “normal” problems that every couple has (such as money, sex and kids) you may be feel much more strongly about these “normal” problems than other couples or you may have additional difficulties about these “normal” problems that other spouses don’t have. So you be the judge. Remember, ultimately it’s your marriage and your happiness on the line so don’t worry about whether your problems are ‘normal’ or not. If you feel like a little extra help could be beneficial to you then who’s to tell you otherwise?
About the Author: Aaron Anderson is a therapist and owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He has taught at the university level, presented at national conferences and is a regular contributor to various blogs and websites all related to marriage and families. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.
View his website at www.themarriageandfamilyclinic.com
View his blog at: http://blog.themarriageandfamilyclinic.com