These problems are major.
Whether your husband had an affair or your wife says she’s fallen out of love, there are certain times you’re more likely than not to find yourself wondering, “When is it the right time to go for marriage counseling?”
Many couples ask themselves if counseling will really help them resolve the anger or sadness they feel within their relationship and the answer is, unequivocally, yes.
Any therapeutic intervention, either together or as individuals, will result in some form of change, and it’s this movement most couples crave in order to break through their feelings of helpless stagnation.
If you’re committed to learning how to save your marriage, seeking outside help together as a team can even help you fall more deeply in love with each other.
1. After an Affair.
Counseling after an affair is essential. It provides you both with a holding space for all of the emotions you will experience after there has been a breach of trust: anger, shame, disappointment, rage, sadness, and usually more anger. Decisions need to be made about the future of your marriage, and finding a safe place to consider potential outcomes is important.
While there are specific tools that can help speed you through this process of rebuilding trust, nothing can make this trauma disappear. You can’t just forget it happened and move forward, as much as everyone wishes this was possible. In therapy, you can establish a realistic timeline for healing, as it’s helpful to have a map when you are wandering through this emotional storm.
Individual therapy is also helpful when an affair happens, as each of you needs a place to explore, understand and process all of the feelings that arise.
2. When One Partner Says They’ve Fallen Out of Love.
Many people wonder if it’s possible to fall back in love with their spouse, and just as many want to know how they can get their partner to fall back in love with them.
An experienced therapist can help you uncover the underlying issues behind this emotional change, as well as work with you both to create a path toward reconnection.
For many couples, there are long-standing conflicts that have grown so thorny with resentment that most of the emotion between them has transformed into apathy. In these instances, it is critical to engage in conversations that directly address the disappointment, anger, and shame at the core of the disconnect.
3. During Major Life Changes.
These transitional times — such as when you have a baby, renovate your house, retire, move, or experience a major loss — are moments when we’re forced to redefine and re-orient ourselves, which often causes a great deal of conflict, confusion and stress that can have a negative impact your marriage.
Couples argue more during times of change because it brings up feelings of being out-of-control, which many people cope with by getting angry, then focusing that anger on their spouse.
The stress, as well as the many decisions and disruptions that arise during such times, stir and magnify any underlying conflict between you. That’s why this is a good time to get some support and to learn new communication skills, such as how to argue more effectively.
4. Your Sex Life Starts to Suffer.
If there is a sudden change in your sex life or a slowly declining level of physical intimacy in your relationship, this is a sign that something has changed and you need to find a way to talk about your needs with your partner and figure out what’s causing the disconnect.
A change in your sex life might mean that unspoken resentments have built up and are being enacted. As anger is diverted to apathy, apathy plays out as a lack of desire for the other person, or as an unconscious withholding as a form of punishment for unspoken or unresolved feelings of having been wronged.
Of course, there are plenty of individuals who find that their libido simple changes or diminishes over time as a normal part of the aging process. However, it’s worth checking in with each other to confirm that there’s nothing deeper going on, or to work through those deeper issues if they do exist.
5. When One Partner Is Diagnosed With an Illness.
When you or your partner are diagnosed with a serious illness, the dynamic in your relationship may shift from an equal partnership to that of a patient and caretaker.
While these roles are necessary and inevitable in such circumstances, they can also lead to feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration, as well as a decreased sense of intimacy, all of which may last even past the point of a full recovery. Chronic illnesses can also impact your sex life with or without physical causes, as it’s extremely difficult for some people to feel sexual with someone when they are in a care-giving role.
In my years working with couples, I have personally never found there to be a time when counseling was harmful or caused a divorce, but I have seen marriages on the verge of splintering apart that were loving knit back together as the couple learned how to communicate more effectively about their needs, disappointments and expectations.
If you and your partner are experiencing any of these roadblocks in your relationship, now is a good time to seek help.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 5 Times Couples Counseling Is Pretty Much The Only Way To Save A Marriage.