There’s no question that relationships can be challenging at times. How do you know if you and your significant other have just hit a temporary rough patch or if it’s something more serious?
Clue 1: Poor Communication: I generally urge couples to seek professional help when they are not able to talk about their problems. If you and/or your partner are at a place where it feels too scary or too unsafe to even bring up concerns ( sex , money, or even annoying little pet peeves that are causing increased tension), a therapist can help by clarifying the issues at hand and to help each of you understand what the other is truly trying to communicate.
Clue 2: Your Sex Life has Significantly Changed: It is import to note that there are two types of changes that should be a cause for concern. First and most commonly reported is the loss of intimacy that the couple previously shared. A second change that may signal danger is a sudden increase in the sexual activity of your relationship. If you have not been having regular or passionate sex and your partner’s sexual appetite drastically increases or if he/she wants to experiment with new activities that have never been expressed as an interest before, this could indicate that your mate is experiencing feelings of arousal that are not originating from his/her relationship with you!
Clue 3: Holding on to the Past: If there has been a traumatic event in your lives, like the loss of a child or an affair and one partner has great difficulty moving forward it may be time to seek professional help. Each person processes trauma differently and some may need more space, time, support, and resources to work through hardships.
Clue 4: A Reoccurring Issue: Difficulties in the relationship that seem to persist, regardless of endless discussions can greatly be helped by therapy. If you are seeing the same issues coming up over and over again in a negative way this is a pretty good indicator that they are not being dealt with and resolved in an effective manner. Seeking outside help could prevent years of further disagreements and building resentments.
Clue 5: Finances: It should come as no surprise that disagreements over money are one of the top reasons couples find themselves at odds. If your partner is secretive about family finances or feels the need to control everything related to money, it may be time to speak up. Try saying something like, “I would like to be included in knowing about our debt, our monthly bills, the balance on the mortgage, how many savings/checking accounts we have, etc.” If your partner objects, it may be time to see a counselor.
Clue 6: Kids: Children can add a lot of richness to a relationship, but they can also be a source of stress. The latter is true especially if the two of you are not a united front. You may want to seek counseling if you are having frequent disagreements regarding the others’ parenting styles and about how your children should be raised. These are major issues that need to be resolved…both for the health of your relationship and the well-being of your children.
Clue 7: You Still Love Your Mate: If you still love and want to be in a relationship with your significant other but haven’t been successful, then it may be time to consider finding a therapist. Aim to be a proactive couple who work together to solve issues before they breed resentment and break trust/intimacy.
Whether you choose to seek help or continue to work on your relationship privately please know that counseling does not “break couples up” or “keep them together.” Couples counseling strives to come alongside the couple to improve communication and gain a better understanding what is truly going on in the life of the relationship.
MY NAME IS JAMIE HAYWORTH-CHIN, AND I AM A LICENSED MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST. I SPECIALIZE IN INDIVIDUAL, FAMILY, AND RELATIONSHIP THERAPY. MY GOAL IS TO WORK WITH YOU TO GAIN A FRESH PERSPECTIVE IN ORDER TO RECLAIM YOUR LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS.