I do. I will love you forever and ever. Fairy tales are alive and dreams come true. These are thoughts running through our minds oftentimes when we are engaged, getting ready for a wedding and thinking about our future. However, the reality of marriage is not always butterflies and rainbows every day. We all face challenges, illnesses, stressors and unexpected problems in our relationships.
A person that we once could not live without, we might end up not being able to live with peacefully.
A marriage that lasts for many years will almost certainly encounter trouble. Enduring the challenges can bring a couple closer together, but it is not always an easy fight. Sometimes, it is such a difficult fight that help must be enlisted. A trusted marriage counselor can be a welcome help in times of trouble. The prospects of staying together may seem very dim, but it is amazing what a change can happen when two people become committed to working on their relationship, and have the help of a trained professional.
It may be difficult for one or both partners to admit when they need help. In other situations, one partner may be begging their spouse to come to counseling. Whatever the situation that you find your marriage in, we are here to help. While we cannot convince anyone to come to counseling that does not want to attend, once in our offices, we can help facilitate conversation and open up lines of communication that may have been shut down completely for quite some time.
Having a neutral third party in the room can make individuals become willing to discuss issues that they may have given up fighting about long ago. While the silence on a topic may be comforting to the other spouse, it can actually be a sign of serious trouble; a sign that a spouse has given up on the relationship. We can help change that and create hope where there has been none.
Marriage Counseling Methods
In times of stress, do you ever wonder how your life could be different? Do you wonder what life would look like if you could make every change that you wish were possible? What would your marriage look like when you woke up in the morning? Where would you live? What would you do for work? What would your spouse do during the day? What would your communication be like?
These are called “Miracle Questions.” They can be used to help define what your optimal relationship would look like. It is helpful to know what kind of changes you want to make. It is easy to know that you are not happy, but not so easy at times to clearly explain what makes you so unhappy. At other times, you may know very clearly the changes that you need to have happen in your relationship. You may come prepared with a list that has been planned out for quite some time.
Whatever state you find yourself or your marriage in, we can help move forward from that point.
The first step in creating change and progress in the relationship is to identify the most serious challenges and stressors that you are currently facing. These may be issues that you and your spouse have struggled with since your honeymoon, or perhaps they are new, intense situations that are creating a great deal of strife and discord. There are certain disagreements that may actually be better to simply avoid. Having varying political beliefs, for example, can be something about which both partners can simply learn to “agree to disagree.”
Dr. John Gottman, an expert on relationships and healthy communication between two people, has developed a simple and very useful tool for couples. His theory is known as “love banking.” In his analysis to a financial institution, every interaction in your marriage is thought of as a deposit or a withdrawal.
With every time that you interact with your spouse, you are either helping or hurting the relationship. Every time you encounter that person, you have an opportunity to make a change for the better. Thriveworks Charlotte Marriage Counseling can help you understand this theory and use it in your marriage. We will offer a brief overview of the concepts here as well.
A withdrawal is a request or demand given to your spouse. This can also include actions such as slammed doors, insulting words, ignoring your partner or any negativity.
Couples experiencing relationship difficulties often make a great deal of withdrawals.
- If you say “Why do you never put the toilet seat down?” — that is a withdrawal
- If you say “I don’t have time to talk. Don’t bother me at work!” — that is a withdrawal
- If you say “Our yard is disgusting. Can’t you keep it as nice as the neighbors?” — that is a withdrawal
While some of these things may be simple and honest requests, they are still withdrawals. We have not even discussed some of the most serious types of withdrawals that include fights and possibly use of name-calling and vulgarity.
We all know that it is never good to bounce a check. This is true also in your marriage bank account. Without deposits, withdrawals mean the same thing for your “marriage account” as they do for your bank account. When your emotional bank account is empty you feel anger, loneliness, and frustration. You may prefer to be alone than with your spouse.
Just as in a traditional bank account, deposits are the opposite of withdrawals. They are positive energy put into your relationship. Dr. Gottman’s research reveals that in order for your relationship to stay healthy, a couple needs to have 5 deposits for every 1 withdrawal. It is a simple 5 to 1 ratio. You may be thinking about your marriage right now and thinking that this is impossible.
Your relationship may have be so overdrawn that you cannot imagine it ever being in the black. However, with the help of a skilled Thriveworks counselor, you can make this a reality in your marriage. You and your spouse can change your bad habits. The ratio works.
In order to make deposits, you need to express love and affection for your spouse. Another researcher, Gary Chapman, has developed what he calls “The Five Love Languages.”
Chapman’s Five Love Languages include:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical touch
Words of Affirmation
In a marriage, our words are the method that we use to communicate with our spouse the most. This love language is exactly as it sounds. We are able to use our spoken words to encourage and express love to our spouse. This can be verbal, in writing and as often as you can manage. It is an important and simple way to express love to your partner.
This love language is also quite simple to express. Gifts, large or small, expensive or inexpensive, can be very much appreciated by your spouse. To some, gifts are not important, but to others, who communicate primarily in this love language, they are a way they receive love. It is simply a tangible, physical reminder of the love of another. It says, “I thought of you. I remembered you.”
Acts of Service
Changing a baby’s diaper, taking the trash to the curb, moving the lawn, emptying the dishwasher; these are tasks most people do not love. But for someone who treasures acts of service as their love language, even small ways that a spouse helps with chores is very important and expresses love.
Having a long conversation, calling on your lunch break, going out to eat, sending a simple text; the love style “quality time” is about giving undivided attention to another person. The activity that takes place during the quality time is really unimportant. Being completely focused on your partner is what is really meaningful.
Physical touch is also a simple way of expressing love, but is very easily set aside when life gets busy or a relationship gets difficult. The kids may take away from your time to express this type of love. Being exhausted and overworked can get in the way. But an embrace, a kiss, holding hands and a hand on the shoulder are all meaningful expressions of love. Physical contact and touch can relate to intimacy, but it is also regarding simple human contact.
Understanding the ways in which you and your spouse best give and receive love is a very important exercise. Being aware of this for yourself and your partner can help you avoid having a withdrawn love bank. When you know the types of love languages that mean most to your spouse, it is easier to express love to them in a meaningful way. Thriveworks marriage counselors can help you learn this and put it into action in your marriage.
What’s Different About Thriveworks Charlotte Marriage Counselors?
Choosing a marriage counselor is a very important decision. You are choosing to entrust one of the most important things in your life to this person. You want to be sure that you are receiving educated, sound, rational advice. The person that you choose will be a major partner in helping your marriage recover and become healthy.
Thriveworks marriage and couples counselors are leaders in the mental health field. They are licensed and trained to deal specifically with your marital issues. They will not be shocked by whatever you bring to the therapy room. They are respected leaders in their community and have been published in leading publications, such as the Chicago Tribune, Prevention, Psychiatric Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Journal of Mental Health Counseling. We are ready to put our expertise to work for your relationship.
We have all heard the sad statistics regarding nearly 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. In addition to this, many couples find themselves in “emotional divorce.” In this state of marriage, you and your partner are still technically still together, but emotionally you are entirely separate entities.
Do any of these issues sound familiar?
- Communication blocks
- Problems with in-laws and extended family
- Anger issues (yelling, slamming of doors, swearing)
- Family planning, to have or not have children
- Parenting issues and disagreements
- Jealousy, lack of trust
- Unresolved issues from past relationships
- Over-scheduled lives (“ships passing in the night”)
This is just a small list of issues that couples can potentially face in marriage. You may be unsure of where you fall on this list or even of how you feel about your partner, but you just know that a happier relationship is possible. Whatever issues you and your spouse are facing, Thriveworks marriage counselors are ready and able to walk through them with you.
We are Ready and Able to Help
You may have been begging your spouse for years to come to counseling. He or she is finally ready to take that first step into the counseling office. For that reason, unlike many counseling offices, we do not operate with a waiting list. We want to be ready when you are ready to seek help. In most cases, we have appointments available for new clients within 24 hours.
We respect that it may be very difficult to finally make the decision to call us or send us a message. We respect that your time is precious. Marriage is not easy, and there is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed in seeking help. Pursuing counseling shows that you have a great deal of respect and hope for your relationship.
When you conducted the search that brought you to this page, you had many choices. You have many choices for your marriage counseling. There is a great deal of information available on this topic. It can be difficult and overwhelming to make a choice. You need not look any further. Thriveworks counselors can be your trusted partner in creating the marriage that you know is possible.