Five Warning Signs: Knowing When Your Relationship is in Trouble
We see a lot of couples at Baton Rouge Counseling and likewise a bulk of the the work we do with people involves healing relationships and helping couples overcome related problems and pitfalls. Couples often say, “We wish we had come in sooner, when the problems first began”. Of course, when you address the issues early on there is a much better chance that the relationship can be saved and revitalized. But, it can be difficult to know where the line is. Many couples believe they should be able to solve the problems on their own. Some are just too busy with life, kids, careers and other activities. So, how do you know if you need relationship counseling; a therapist in Baton Rouge? How can you tell the difference between the normal ups and downs of a relationship versus serious problems you need professional help with?
The Five Major Warning Signs:
1. Affairs & Cheating
One or both of you is involved in or considering an affair. This includes “emotional affairs”, chatting online or texting, messaging on Facebook. Most people will deal with this temptation at some point in their relationship but once it becomes a reality then it’s a difficult road back to trust and happiness. If there has been an affair, or if you’re on the edge of having an affair, seek counseling immediately. There are many reasons or justifications for having an affair but they are a sign the relationship is in trouble.
2. Constant or Repetitive Arguing and Fighting
While fair fighting and constructive arguments can be healthy, if the disagreements are constant, repeating, violent or abusive then professional help is needed. Some couples get into patterns that they don’t know how to break. Often there are unresolved individual issues coming into play (sometimes from both sides) such as family of origin issues or prior abuse or trauma. If you find yourself on a never ending “wheel” of conflict and the damage is accumulating, there may be contempt and resentment building up and it’s time to get help. It may even feeling like the topics aren’t even that important, like arguing over who takes the trash out, but it’s always something. Left unresolved, this kind of conflict erodes the foundation of a relationship.
This means either or the both of you are refusing to deal with conflict and emotions, walking away, refusing to talk, cold shouldering, minimizing, going to bed angry, holding grudges. The person becomes unresponsive and unwilling to engage. This can be a byproduct of not have the tools to communicate and deal with disagreements or it can be a deeply embedded defense mechanism (withdrawal). Each person deserves to be heard and understood. If anger and bitterness are causing silence, withdrawal and emotional distance in your relationship, then a counseling professional can help.
4. Criticism & Blame
This is a defensive pattern where either or both parties tend to fault-find, nit-pick, blame, refuse to take responsibility for their own stuff, and are focused on the other person’s shortcomings. While everyone has their faults, obviously, sometimes people become quite invested in believing it’s all the other person’s fault. In some cases this involves “projection” – putting your own problems off onto the other person – this usually happens when there are unresolved issues that have become embedded in the unconscious and so the person is not aware of how or why they are doing it. These matters are very difficult to resolve on your own, and relationship counseling can be a life saver.
5. Lack of Empathic Connection (Feelings and Needs)
For relationships to thrive long term, it is essential that each person has a sense of empathic emotional connection to the other. This means that your partner cares and is tuned in to your feelings and needs. If one or the both of you have difficulty being seen, heard, and understood in the relationship, or if you’re not getting what you need emotionally then it can seem like the other person doesn’t care or has emotionally abandoned you. If there is a significant disconnect in your relationship and you’re feeling starved out or unloved by your partner then it’s time to ask for help. Relationship counseling can help you both get in tune with one another and you can learn how to stay in tune.
Don’t Wait, Get Help Now
No matter how much you love your partner, when you get into a major rut as mentioned in the above examples, professional help is the answer. People tend to put off working on their relationship or marriage, as if the problems are going to fix themselves, but they usually don’t. Remember most problems are not about whether the you love each other enough. Love by itself is simply not enough to sustain a growing relationship. Relationships require communication, compromise, giving, forgiveness, time and work–and sometimes professional help! Take the time to consider your relationship and where it stands. Do you see one or more of the five warning signs listed above? If so, reach out for help from a therapist in Baton Rouge!
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