Most marriages and other relationships aren't perfect. Each
person brings his or her own ideas, values, opinions and personal
history into a relationship, and they don't always match their
partner's. Those differences don't necessarily mean your relationship
is bound for conflict. To the contrary, differences can be
complementary - you know the saying about opposites attracting.
These differences can also help people understand, respect
and accept opposing views and cultures.
But relationships can be tested. Differences or habits that
you once found endearing may grate on your nerves after time
together. Sometimes specific issues, such as an extramarital
affair or loss of sexual attraction, trigger problems in a
relationship. Other times, there's a gradual disintegration
of communication and caring.
No matter the cause, distress in a relationship can create
undue stress, tension, sadness, worry, fear and other problems.
You may hope your relationship troubles just go away on their
own. But left to fester, a bad relationship may only worsen
and eventually lead to physical or psychological problems,
such as depression. A bad relationship can also create problems
on the job and affect other family members or even friendships
as people feel compelled to take sides.
Here are typical issues that couples
therapy or marriage counseling can help you and a spouse or
partner cope with:
- Substance abuse
- Physical or mental conditions
- Same-sex relationship issues
- Cultural clashes
- Blended families
- Communication problems
- Sexual difficulties
- Conflicts about child rearing
- Changing roles, such as retirement
Couples therapy may also be of help in cases of domestic
violence or abuse. However, if the abuse or violence has escalated
to the point that you fear for your safety or that of your
children, consider contacting the police or a local shelter
or crisis center. Don't rely on marriage counseling alone
to resolve these problems.
You don't need to have a troubled relationship to seek therapy.
Marriage counseling can also help couples who simply want
to strengthen their bonds and gain a better understanding
of each other. Marriage counseling can also help couples who
plan to get married. This pre-marriage counseling can help
you achieve a deeper understanding of each other and iron
out differences before a union is sealed.