Are you and your wife at the point of seeking a therapist to help get your marriage back on track? If yes, then chances are good that she’s been suggesting it for months. Wives tend to address emotional turmoil, while husbands choose to deal with it by watching golf and mowing the yard for hours at a time, mentally visiting their caves for solutions that may or may not be correct.
A marriage counselor? You picture Drs. Phil and Joyce Brothers and cringe at the thought of baring the negative aspects of your marriage to a blank-faced intellectual….from leaving the toothpaste cap off each morning to her financially paralyzing shopping sprees. Whose business is it? Other than yours? Oh, the horror! They might judge you! They might figure out that you don’t actually have all the answers! They might instruct you start a Zen meditation course or heal your bratty inner child!
Well, quite honestly, your marriage IS no one else’s business. But the right counselor can act as a neutral observer, a go-between, and a coach, helping to move you both toward the eternal state of happiness that you assumed would be the norm when you proposed to her.
But how do you know that you need couples therapy? We’ll start with the five major trigger points that usually land husbands and wives on the counselor’s couch. (Most of them also have comfortable chairs that you can move far away from each other if you want.)
According to Sam Love, a licensed family counselor with a thriving marital practice, most couples seek therapy with issues in one or all of the following categories.
1) Financial –Often times, one partner is solely in charge of the family finances while the other assumes all is well and that their spouse is happily handling everything. When things go wrong, the submissive spouse is blamed for being in the dark and not taking more of a responsible role. Or they simply spend more than they make, trying to maintain a lifestyle beyond their means. This type of excessive behavior can quickly drive a marriage into the ground.
2) Parenting – Quite often moms and dads will have two entirely different parenting styles. For example, Mom is permissive, allowing the kids to eat cookie dough for breakfast, while Dad appears to be a tyrant in comparison, expecting all A’s and completion of lengthy chore charts. Also blended families, where parents are more protective of their biological children than their step children, can cause a colossal marriage strain.
3) Intrusive Relatives – Whether it’s a mother-in-law who’s always tossing in her two cents about everything from stain removal to carpooling systems, or a grown relative who’s forever hanging around the house…these relations can wreak havoc on the autonomy of a marriage. Most couples didn’t sit down before the wedding and discuss how much of a role their in-laws would play in their daily lives. We see lots of resentments and divisions created by extended family members.
4) Intimate Behavior – When men and women get married they quit pursuing one another. It’s sad, but more often than not…true. All the things they used to do to try to please and impress their mate slowly start to wane. When couples forget the reasons they fell in love, they tend to focus on the things that bother them about each other, often leading them to the incorrect conclusion that they’re not right for each other.
5) Communication –This is the glue that holds everything together. A couple can have all of the above issues or none at all, but if they don’t communicate then it’s difficult to be successful in any other area.
If you face struggles in your marriage on a daily basis, then it may be time to pick up the phone and make an appointment with a counselor. However, don’t wait too long, trying to figure out things on your own. Many men happily admit that couples counseling saved their marriages.
About the Author: Angela is an award winning humor columnist, freelance writer and public speaker living in Middle Georgia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She uses her keen insight and clever wit to help husbands understand the complex mechanisms that are their wives. “I like to think of goodhusbanding.com as an owner’s manual for the average wife. Of course results may vary, but we’re all fairly similar whether we admit it or not.” Angela uses her background in psychology, the myriad of learning experiences offered through her ten year marriage, and input from her “in the trenches” audience members across the country as input for her articles.