If you have children and are questioning whether to stay in your marriage, please read this first.
Most couples seek out marriage counseling as their last hope before they divorce. Research by marriage expert, Dr. John Gottman, found that the average couple waits six years after serious problems begin until they look for a therapist’s help. By that time there is a significant degree of hurt, sadness, rejection, pain and distance, emotionally and sexually.
Some couples describe living “parallel lives.” They do the business of the household – coordinate chores, children’s carpools, doctor appointments and family events – but don’t connect with each other. No dates, no romance or affection, and often no sex, even though they may still sleep in the same bed.
It’s not uncommon that one partner is desperate to save the marriage and the other has one foot out the door. Each spouse tells their story, and likely invalidates the other’s experience. Sometimes it sounds as if they have lived two different lives, or in separate realities.
Often one or the other gives a reason that therapy will not be able to help. Here are the top seven justifications we hear:
- I love her but I’m not “in love” (shorthand for “the sexual attraction is gone”).
- We tried therapy several years ago and it didn’t work.
- He changed for a few weeks and then went right back to the same old pattern.
- We don’t know how to communicate; i.e., he doesn’t listen; she won’t talk; we’re always fighting.
- We have nothing in common anymore.
- I’ve given up asking her for sex.
- He shows no affection.
Here’s what we tell couples:
When you have children, making the decision to divorce is one of, if not the most, important decision you will ever make in your life.
Divorce is the death of a small civilization.
– Pat Conroy
Ask any adult with divorced parents if they remember their parents’ announcement they were separating. I bet most of them have that moment etched in their minds. I’ll never forget when my parents told me. It felt like someone died. And someone did. My family died.
We tell couples the worst thing they can do is walk away without having tried everything possible to work it out. Imagine five years from now looking back and thinking, “I wonder what would have happened if…”
If the attraction is gone…we have seen it come back when people work on rebuilding and creating a deeper connection.
If you tried therapy…not all marriage counselors are the same. Search until you find someone that has specific training in marriage counseling and offers hope.
If your spouse promised he’d change and then slipped back, we can suggest ways to handle that.
If you have poor communication or trouble managing conflict, we can teach you those skills.
If you have nothing in common, you can find new things that you enjoy together.
If sex and affection are lacking, that can return, even when it feels hopeless.
If you have experienced the trauma of an affair, you may think it’s a deal breaker, but we have seen many couples walk through this pain and come out stronger.
We tell couples they have two choices at this moment in their lives. One is to walk away and get divorced. The other is stay. Not stay in the marriage as it is, but stay in the marriage as it could be.
If therapy with a trained marriage counselor doesn’t help, you can always make the decision to divorce.
If we can be of service, don’t wait. Call us. We will work as hard as you do to move your relationship to a deeper, more loving, more connected place.
Image Copyright LIU MING