The Gottman Institute of Seattle Washington has researched thousands of couples and concluded that the average couple waits 6 years in an extremely unhappy state before they seek professional help.
We know that the longer a couple has suffered, the more ingrained their dysfunctional patterns become. Maladaptive behaviors are hard habits to break.
Knowing that you love someone but feeling like you just can't live with them is a miserable feeling. However, the couples that make the most progress at CoupleScience definitely have a foundation of love, even if it's deeply buried.
Just because you argue vehemently with your partner doesn't mean you don't love them. In fact, the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
However we aren't built to be in battle everyday of our lives, especially within our own homes. So conflict that gets out of hand and rarely results in a resolution will tear a relationship to pieces.
We recommend trying different self-help approaches before seeking professional counseling. These can include reading books on topics that address your relationship issues, and also consulting with trusted advisors, elders, and friends.
Sometimes family meetings that include knowledgeable and loving parents can help a couple get back on track, at least for awhile.
However you have to be very careful when turning to non professionals because there are issues of privacy, and once you've told your best friend or parent how "awful" your partner was in your last argument, you've changed their opinion of your partner, sometimes forever.
While we might be quick to complain about something going on wrong with our marriage, we aren't usually as motivated to let people know how great things are going. The complaining seems "normal" but sharing positive things about your marriage can seem like bragging.
(There's also a connection between venting about your partner, and affairs. More on that in future blogs!)
These factors make your ability to turn to family and friends for ongoing and serious issues problematic.
Couple's retreats may be an option, to renew your commitment and learn new skills.Getting away from home and focusing on each other is an intervention that has helped many couples. A relationship is a lot like your cell phone. It has to be recharged regularly.
Ultimately, the decision to seek professional counseling is recommended before your conflicts become severe and start to inflict significant damage to your relationship. Usually, the sooner you get professional help the better if your own attempts to improve things don't last. Severe marriage problems are like a leaky rooftops: they cause a lot of damage quickly and can't fix themselves.
At CoupleScience we have high standards for our couples, because we want to ensure the best results possible. That means being receptive to learning new ways to do things, and being willing to invest the time and work to practice new skills on a regular basis.
We emphasize your strengths and build on them while addressing the problematic areas. We aim for happier people and lasting results.
So carefully consider your options, figure out what will work best for you, and if you need a professional, CoupleScience is here to help.
Kathleen Anderson LMHC LLC
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