Taking a moment to stop and think about all the hard times that we have gone through together over the past few years is truly staggering. Think back to 2008 and the recession that we had with the job loss associated with that recession. You could have lost your home in that recession as many did. We’ve had tumultuous elections during those intervening years, a pandemic, and threats of another world war. It’s almost enough to take your breath away. 

 it should not be any wonder that many people are suffering from relational problems during this time. Anytime where your mental and physical well-being is at risk then it should follow that there may be problems in your relationships. We can feel the stress of our everyday life in our relationships and oftentimes take it out on our significant other. While this is the unfortunate reality it is the actual reality, nonetheless. With that, I can tell you that your children also suffer from the lack of certainty and the stress felt in the household. This should not come as a surprise.

Part of the problems that we may be experiencing in our relationships has to do with the things that we say to one another. For many of us, communication is not something that we excel at. Saying hurtful things to one another during a moment of anger is it unfortunate byproduct of the stress that we experience in our relationships. There can be an emotional gap that develops between us and our spouses that can make it feel like we are living alone even if we are surrounded by our family. This feeling of loneliness can cause us to reach out for safety and security wherever we can find it. Human connections are extremely important, especially during a time when we might not be able to feel those connections as intimately as we otherwise might be able to.

Having faith that your marriage will survive any challenges is based on trust. The trust that you have in your spouse would be based on mutual affection and love. However, when you have problems communicating it can feel like the distance between the two of you can grow significantly. From there, the problems with communication will spread into other areas of your life and your marriage. My point is that the problems that you are suffering in your marriage due to communication issues can not only destroy your marriage but harm your relationship with your children. It is not the truth that you can limit the damage to just one area of your life. Rather, you can expect that many areas of your life will suffer harm as the result of problems associated with communication in your marriage.

Fortunately for you and your spouse, you do not have to take this line down. Rather, you have options that you can choose from and terms of working on those communication skills. there are techniques and methods for improving communication skills. Most of us are not born great communicators but rather must work on those skills. There is nothing wrong with admitting this or coming to grips with the reality of the situation. The sooner you take the steps necessary to fix the situation the better off your home life will be. The longer you let the problems fester the longer the issues regarding trust will manifest in your home life.

Does going to couples therapy carry with it a stigma? 

I think the answer to this question would be a resounding yes. Going to therapy of any kind does have a certain stigma surrounding it. Many times, we can simply not accept that getting therapy might be too difficult. In many places, there may not even be options made available or known in the community surrounding therapy. As a result, people just like you may go without the help that they could benefit from.

However, technology can be your friend in this regard. This is since online and video-based therapy is becoming more and more prevalent. Being able to pick up your phone or head to your left-stop computer to speak to someone about your mental health is great for those who have concerns with meeting with someone like that in person. Or may not be able to travel far due to any number of issues regarding transportation or your health. In that case, meeting with someone over a secure video format is certainly for the best. The only thing stopping you from being able to take advantage of these opportunities would be the belief that it won’t work for you. 

The only way to find out whether therapy would work for you and your family would be to try it out. It’s not as if anyone is forcing you to go or it can make you go against your will. Most therapists have very flexible payment plans structures where you can pay by the visitor for a group of visits. You may be surprised to find out that your health insurance provider may even cover therapists in counseling visits. It should come as no surprise that your mental health impacts your physical health as well. Health insurance companies have come to understand this as well and are happy to pay for relatively inexpensive mental health treatment if it means avoiding costly procedures, tests, and other treatment for your physical body.

The most significant issue that I find people experience regarding this subject is simply waiting too long to try to find help. Problems in your marriage do not always jump off the page, so to speak. I think movies and television shows have desensitized us to an extent in terms of what problems may be in your marriage. For example, not every problem in your marriage is surrounded by a great deal of drama or things of that nature. If you and your spouse have communication issues in your relationship, then that is not exactly a sultry or interesting topic in and of itself. However, it is nonetheless very important even if it doesn’t sound like the subject matter from, but I didn’t show or movie.

The other problem that you may encounter and your marriage when it comes to communication is a simple truth that you see your spouse every day. Do you see someone every day the problem is in your marriage can easily be swept under the rug and assumed that they can be taken care of later? Especially for those of you who have been married for a long time, they can feel like your marriage is always going to be there no matter what.

One lesson that I think we can apply from the world of biology to the world of marriage relationships is that there is no staying still when it comes to a relationship. Either your relationship is improving or getting worse. This is the same as either a body is developing or dying. These are stark terms to think about in terms of relationships like a marriage, but serious crimes call for serious talk. If you take your marriage from that perspective, then you can see that time is of the essence and that if your marriage is struggling it is not merely that your marriage is interrupted but more likely that your marriage drifting down the side of a mountain. However, you have the ability and the wherewithal to put that backward momentum to a halt and gain some forward momentum towards saving your marriage period I think that marriage and family therapy is the place to begin that discussion.

Common stigmas against marriage and family therapy

As I mentioned a moment ago, there are many stigmas associated with therapy involving marriage and family issues. Many of these stigmas have developed over time due to preconceived notions about what therapy is and what therapy is not. I would like to walk through some of these stigmas and talk some about how these stigmas are inaccurate or simply do not apply to the marriage and family therapy period

Probably the first stigma that I can think of when it comes to marriage and family therapy is if you need to go to therapy that there is a problem either with you or with your spouse. The thinking goes that because you even need to consider therapy that there is an issue with the two of you inherently not being compatible. The fact that you need to even consider therapy means that there are aspects of your relationship That you cannot repair.

As I mentioned a moment ago, most of us are not born as great communicators. Rather, these are skills that we must learn over the course of time and through trial and error. I’m sure if you look back to the beginning years of your marriage you figured out there are ways to speak to your spouse that will be effective in ways that are let’s just say not effective at all. Family therapy is a great way for you to continue to develop those skills with an experienced professional. If you want to learn how to improve your golf swing, you should hire an A coach. In the same way, if you want to improve your ability to talk to your wife or husband then you should do the same.

In many cases, we like to pretend that problems in our marriages don’t exist at all. Rather, we avoid discussing them and focus on issues regarding our children or any other topic. These could be new problems that have developed or could even be problems that have been ongoing for some time. Not properly addressing issues related to your marriage can lead to problems down the road. 

However, by attending therapy the therapist is not there to place blame or find fault either in you or your spouse. Rather, their job is to turn the light on to these problems and let them be seen for what they are. Someone once said that light is the best disinfectant. This means that if you take things out of the darkness and put them in a place where you and your spouse can look at them you can learn how to deal with the problems firsthand. Once you get to that stage you may find that the problems are not as significant as you believed previously. By the same token, a therapist can help you to develop skills that can help you to avoid problems like that developing in the future.

The other major reason why counseling has a certain stigma is that many of us feel like counseling can be pointless or irrelevant. After all: if you believe that all the problems in your marriage or the fault of your spouse then why bother going to counseling? If he or she is the blame it shouldn’t take a counselor or therapist staff to tell you that. This spouse should understand this intrinsically and their failure to acknowledge this fact so the reflection of him or her and not you.

The reality is that problems in America are never just the fault of one person. There are always discussions that can be had and work that can be done by both people. That’s not to say that one person may not be the predominant one because of problems in the marriage. However, If you and your spouse can take the time to acknowledge the role problems you now face there is an opportunity to address them in a non-confrontational and neutral setting.

Finally, one of the misconceptions about therapy who’s that when it comes to a marriage if attending therapy is necessary to save the relationship then the marriage should not have taken place in the first place. This is a shrug your shoulders reaction to the problems many of us go through in our marriages. The thought here is that if you must go through this much work to save the marriage then the marriage probably wasn’t meant to be.

I hope that you have seen through today’s blog post that this could not be further from the truth. Fact, the reality is quite the opposite. The people who are the most successful in marriage work on those marriages continually. No, it’s not as if people successful marriages set out each day to work on the marriage but rather, they take small steps to improve the qualities of their marriages every day. In other words, people who are in strong marriages do not wander into strong marriages. They are intentional about finding success in marriage and work on those skills necessary to build strong marriages. 

Those qualities could be patience, communication, intimacy, and anything in between. Again, these do not have to be situations where set out to tell yourself that one day you were going to work on your patients. However, it takes seeing things from another person’s perspective gradually learning to accept the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your spouse. That is what counseling is all about. It is taking those challenges head-on in understanding what you both need to work on in providing where can I expectations in a trusting environment to do so.

Avoiding conflict is not the way to go

The final thing I will note on this subject is that simply choosing to avoid conflict is not beneficial to you or your spouse. True, this can be unpleasant to have to discuss challenges in your relationship. It may even cause you to feel vulnerable, angry upset, and any range of negative emotions. This will not be fun, in other words.

What you can bank on is that therapy will be different from discussions that you have with your spouse at home about these issues. And that is exactly what you need. Repeating the same activity in expecting a different result with the same methods is the definition of insanity. Rather than banging your head against the metaphorical wall why not shift the conversation to a neutral environment that is new to the both of you? That way you can further examine the issues from a different viewpoint and with a different set of skills.

I cannot emphasize enough just how important communication is to the problems in a marriage. if you come to the issue from the standpoint of most of us not being equipped to be good communicators in marriage then I think there is less of a stigma associated with attending therapy or counseling. Learning how to communicate effectively with your spouse takes work. The skills are not such that you can necessarily learn their comic book or certainly learn them from trial and error. Rather, your best bet is to approach this subject as one where you require assistance from someone who has been there before. A marriage and family therapist is the exact kind of person that can provide you with the tools you need to save your marriage and avoid becoming involved.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 

if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.