Marriage is the end of all the strain and stress of dating and relationships, right? It marks the beginning of happily-ever-after and love and joy and peace with our soulmates, right? If life were like a movie or sitcom, maybe, but most of us know that life is never that simple. The idea of being one-big-happy family is sweet and great, but the reality is often much harder. That is why many marriage vows include at least one line about sticking together “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” Most marriages run into times of worse, poorer, and sickness, and spouses may or may not be equipped to handle the harder times. Many spouses are reaching out for help and going to marriage counseling to work on their relationship.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times,
always with the same person.” —Mignon McLaughlin
Thriveworks Chattanooga understands what it takes to build a long-term marriage or to end a marriage amicably. Our therapists and counselors have worked with many spouses who are struggling and helped them find the right path forward.
Should We Go to Marriage Therapy?
Many spouses wonder if or when the right time to pursue marriage therapy is. There is no right time to start therapy, and there is no wrong time to start it either. Marriage therapy can be what spouses need it to be, so they may even benefit from therapy when they are in a season of “better,” even though people pursue marriage therapy when they are in a season of “worse.” Many couples go to therapy when they are experiencing things like…
1) Constant Arguing. There are disagreements and debates and differences within every marriage. Spouses are distinct, unique individuals so they will have distinct opinions, but when every conversation escalates into an argument, it may be time for help. There should be give and take within a healthy marriage where spouses know when to back off an argument in order to respect each other’s capacities and limits. When the arguing and constant, even when both spouses clearly need a break, it may be time to pursue marriage therapy.
2) Never arguing (or talking). Again, arguing is a normal sign of healthy individuality within a marriage, but when all communication or arguing has ceased, that is a sign each spouse is struggling. In some cases, spouses may have iced each other out. The arguing may have grown too much, so each spouse stonewalls the other and has cut off communication. In other cases, a spouse may have lost all sense of their own individuality within the relationship. There is no reason to argue because one spouse’s opinions and ideas dominate while the other spouse’s thoughts and feelings are pushed aside. In either case, it may be time to go to marriage counseling.
3) A spouse who has cheated. When a spouse has had an affair, the marriage is in trouble. Cheating decimates trust and if the marriage is to survive, both spouses have a lot of healing and work to do. Some marriages recover from an affair. Others do not. Whatever the final outcome may be, a marriage counselor may be able to help each spouse face the problems directly and find healing. The key is that both spouses are willing and open naming the problems in the marriage and addressing them to the best of their abilities.
4) Spouses who are trying to change each other. One of the most important principles of life is that people can only control themselves. Of course, people constantly try to control others or change others, but this is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. When spouses are trying to change each other, they are introducing tension, disappointment, and shame into the relationship. If change is needed, each spouse needs to take responsibility for adjustments they want to make within their own lives. Within the marriage, spouses should work on relating to each other and valuing each other for who they are—not who they are not. Marriage therapists can often teach spouses how to do this.
5) One or both spouses are abusive. The marriage relationship should be a safe space, but all too often, spouses are perpetrators of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Abuse is always wrong. Always. Abuse is never the victim’s fault. Never. If abuse is occurring, your safety is of utmost importance. Seek help right away. Marriage counseling may be the right next step.
Set Up Marriage Therapy at Thriveworks Chattanooga
This list of reasons to pursue marriage counseling is by no means exhaustive. You may have recognized something on the list. You may be struggling with something that is not on the list. You may be not struggling at all—you may simply want to improve your marriage in a certain way. If you think your marriage would benefit from a relationship professional’s guidance, the marriage counselors at Thriveworks Chattanooga are ready to help. We have worked with many spouses.
When you contact our office for marriage counseling, here are a few things to know that may be helpful. A scheduling specialist (that is, a person) will answer your call (we do not have a voicemail) and help you make an appointment. Weekend and evening sessions are available (because life is busy). New clients often meet with their therapist within 24 hours of their first call (why wait?). We also accept many forms of insurance. Call Thriveworks Chattanooga today.