Broken Bones and Broken Hearts
We don’t plan to break a bone or get sick, but if we do, we generally know who to call and where to get help. It should be the same with relationships but unfortunatley it isn’t. Most people put off trying to get help because of a few reasons:
*Denial “if I don’t say it out loud my relationship is still ok”
*Shame “what if someone finds out that my relationship is struggling?”
* Logistics “what’s the process? How will I be able to afford it?”
You and I both know that when we talk about our bodies, prevention is WAY more beneficial, cost effective and frankly successful than trying to cure something after it has gone haywire. It’s exactly the same with relationships. Prevention doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have to deal with shitty times or even a breakup, but it gives you a way better chance that you’ll weather the storm.
Signs it may be time to bring in a professional
Just like with any physical malady, educating yourself on some unhealthy relationship symptoms can help you get the problem under control sooner and most likely, more successfully than if you weren’t sure if you were actually dealing with a problem.
Here are some warning signs that it’s time to get some professional support for your relationship:
- Arguments and fights occur often, usually with little to no resolution or feeling of connection afterwards
- We aren’t a team, in fact it feels like we are often on opposing sides
- There has been major damage to trust (affair that hasn’t been worked through, etc).
- One or both of us have seriously thought about leaving the relationship
- Communication is poor. It often feels like we are speaking differently languages because our partner interprets what we are saying differently than what we meant. This to lots of fights, or complete disconnection.
- Little to no time spent enjoying our time together
- Physical violence has occurred or is occurring
- Me or my partner has expressed concern about the amount and frequency that alcohol or drug use occurs.
- One of us feels like there is a problem.
We seem ok right now, should I be doing anything?
So here’s the deal, if you aren’t currently dealing with these issues that’s fantastic! This is a wonderful time to work on prevention ( which you can do on your own or with a professional). The first step to helping future relationship is to have an open and honest conversation about it. You want to make sure that both of you are invested in it’s health and both of you are responsible for taking care of it when it goes haywire. Frequent check in’s about how the two of you are doing, what’s working AND what ISN’T working for each of you. Keep that dialogue open.
Yeah, we need help… now what?
If you find yourself in a spot that needs some support and help beyond what the two of you can give on your own – OWN IT AND WORK TOGETHER.
This isn’t the time to drop hints or hope things will magically change on their own. The longer you let a problem hang out, the harder it will be to fix. This is the time for a serious conversation with each other in which you discuss your feelings, needs, and concerns for the relationship ( pro tip- don’t start out with “we need to go to therapy because you’re an ass” ).
Find a licensed therapist ( I always recommend making sure your therapist is licensed with the Board of Behavioral sciences which you can find out in one minute here) in your area that specializes in working with couples and reach out to them. Make sure you set up a free consultation call with them to make sure they “click” with you and your partner (it’s SO important that you feel like you can both connect easily with your therapist).
Men, I’m going to talk to you for a minute because 90 percent of the time by the time I get the phone call from you, your wife is done. She’s either ready to walk out the door or she has left. Granted there are instances in which the gender is reversed, but on the whole women are the first ones to contact me and generally they are the one’s trying to get their partner on board. It’s incredibly heartbreaking to see one partner sitting there crying and honestly feeling blindsided at the fact that the relationship is done and the other partner saying “I’ve been telling you for years. You never took it seriously”.
I’m am definitiley not dumping all the blame on any partner here (relationships take two) , but if one person in the relationship says “there is a problem” there is a problem. Even if you don’t think so.
If you think your relationship is worth saving, prioritize it. It will mean hard work and vulnerability ( I’ll be the first one to tell you therapy isn’t a walk in the park) but the rewards may mean having a meaningful and satisfying relationship again.
Yasmine Binghalib is a Relationship Specialist and Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice in Placerville, California. You can learn more about her and the services she offers by going to eldoradocountytherapy.com