Are you or your partner in the throes of mental illness? You aren’t alone. Around one in five Americans experiences it in a given year. That’s close to 44 million people or 18.5% of the country’s population.
A recent study found that those suffering from a mental health disorder are more likely to experience divorce. From phobias and anxiety disorders to depression and substance abuse, myriad conditions can affect one’s mental health. When these take hold, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy marriage if they go unaddressed.
The disorder becomes the elephant in the room and the third wheel on every date. Still, you don’t have to become part of this statistic. Couples counseling exists to help partners work through their issues, find common ground, and devise a plan to move forward.
First, I’ll detail 5 top reasons I see relationships struggling. Then I’ll explore 8 reasons why couples counseling can get your relationship back on track.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
The Top Reasons Relationships Fail
Can you guess the top reasons why couples seek therapy? There are key warning signs as to why relationships begin to fail when issues are not addressed early. Well, the following are the most common reasons why relationships tend to fail today:
1. Trust Issues
Trust is everything in a relationship, and once trust is gone or damaged, it becomes challenging to regain that trust without putting in work to repair it. Trust issues can encompass several different factors including sexual or emotional infidelity, unreasonable rigidity, substance abuse, possessiveness, and jealousy. It can also include a lack of emotional support, lack of reliability, or due to manipulation.
2. Communication Problems
Conflicts and arguments are expected in any relationship. However, if you lack strong communication skills, you may find that you both tend to have unhealthy dialogue and issues remain unresolved.
Poor communication is one of the top reasons why couples end up in therapy. When poor communication leads to contempt, the writing is on the wall.
3. A Lack of Fun or Adventure in the Relationship
When you’ve been with someone for a long time, you may find that your lives have become rigid, stuck in a routine, or you are not making a conscious effort to stay connected and have fun.
When you do not make time for date nights, and simply sit next to each other on the couch watching Netflix each night, it’s easy to see how the passion and fun can disappear when there is a lack of creativity or engagement. Consider what quality time means to you: is it watching movies, or is it making lasting memories and having fun?
4. Unmet Emotional Needs
We are all busy, but when you forget to nurture your relationship. When you are continually prioritizing other things above your relationship, you’ll often find that you no longer have anything to talk about.
Furthermore, intimacy can slowly dissipate while boredom in the relationship can occur.
5. Money Problems
Once you’ve been in a relationship for six months to a year, it may become evident that you’re financially incompatible. Money issues will often lead back to topics such as insecurity, loss of stability, power struggles, and trust issues.
Money often isn’t an issue when you are dating casually, but when you are living together or traveling together, it can seriously impact your relationship.
Do any of these topics seem to surface in your conversations? Do they seem as if they are unresolved between you are your partner?
Talking about issues or conflicts with a medical provider and/or licensed therapist is one of the first and most important steps you can take toward a solution. It’s even more poignant if your partner is by your side.
Now, let’s dive into 8 reasons why couples therapy is a smart move to make when you want to push through the stronghold of mental illness and come out on the other side happier than ever.
1. It Isn’t Just for Married Folks
The traditional image of couples counseling is a married couple on a couch, sitting opposite a therapist who is nodding in an armchair with a clipboard. Though are instances in which this scenario is accurate, the scene is more flexible than you might think.
Put simply, couples counseling helps you work through issues you’re experiencing with any partner in your life. This might mean attending with your co-worker, your estranged sister, your child, your best friend, or even someone you are considering as a life partner.
Marriage counseling is one aspect of couples counseling, but it isn’t the only way to go. When you attend with anyone in your life who you feel you’ve drifted away from, you help bring visibility to your issues and discover ways to address them.
2. Couples Therapy Offers a Captive Audience
Sometimes, you just need a sounding board. Talking about mental health concerns in your relationship gets those issues out in the open, dissuading them from pestering beneath the surface.
If you aren’t the one suffering, it can be difficult to relate to your partner. Likewise, your partner may resent you for not sharing those struggles or accuse you of being unsympathetic.
Even if these disagreements begin tiny, it doesn’t take long for them to snowball. Before long, communication can break down altogether, exacerbating feelings of isolation and loneliness often associated with mental illness.
When you attend couples therapy with your partner, you aren’t talking over each other in the kitchen or mumbling a few words before bedtime. Rather, you’re in a controlled, neutral environment with a structured set of questions that can help keep your conversation on track. Furthermore, you also have an unbiased listening ear. Your counselor isn’t taking sides, passing judgment, or interrupting. Use this opportunity to speak your mind, share your frustrations and work through your problems in an open manner.
3. Relationship Roles Come to Light
Yet, most of us would argue that there are at least a few things that our partner does that we don’t understand. This comes from the fact that he or she came from a different background, has varying life experiences, and brings something unique to the relationship. This is especially the case when a mental health disorder is involved.
Expecting your partner to behave like the ones in the movies can set you up for a lifetime of disappointment. It’s only when you begin to understand relationship dynamics that you can identify the role that the other person plays.
Your counselor can walk you through this process of examining and restructuring roles.
4. It Encourages Empathy
One of the top reasons for divorce? One party feels misunderstood or undervalued. Sometimes, the partner has long recognized these feelings of resentment. Other times, they come up for the first time in the therapist’s office.
A marriage counselor can help each person see the relationship from the other’s point of view. In turn, this can provide you with the insight and tools you need to meet your partner on an emotional level.
One recent study of 400 women and 172 men found that “unmet emotional needs” was a top reason for seeking a divorce. If there is a mental health issue at play in your relationship, it can be even more difficult to forge a deep emotional connection. Yet, when you attend counseling together and hear firsthand how your partner feels, you’re better positioned to be as empathetic toward their condition as possible.
When all you see are the negative ways that the disorder impacts your workplace, family, or home, it’s easy to become blind to the fact that it is a real medical condition. This is why it’s helpful to attend couples therapy in conjunction with a formal treatment program. You can be by your partner’s side as he or she works through the process.
5. It’s a Neutral Mediating Space
Feeling run-down and agitated as the wife to someone with depression? Struggling with anxiety and feeling like your business partner keeps putting more work on you?
You could take your issues to your family members or another trusted source. Although they may try to be unbiased, loyalties or past personal experience will still influence the conversation. This makes it difficult to have a calm and factual discussion that isn’t driven by emotion.
On the other hand, your counselor is looking to understand both perspectives. You’ll each have an equal opportunity to speak your mind, bring your frustrations to light, and share what’s bothering you. The therapist’s office is a safe space. As a result, you are more apt to be authentic in your responses.
6. You’ll Learn How Your Actions Correlate
Think you’re acting on your own accord? Not hardly. We’re driven by stimuli and our movements and actions are intricately linked. Similar to the old, stapled chains you used to make from construction paper as a child, one tear and the whole project changes.
For instance, you might recount a day when you came home and found your partner suffering from a serious bout of depression and the house disheveled. You mumbled an unhelpful or unkind word before going to make dinner.
That small phrase can be enough to deepen the depressive episode, which in turn caused you even greater strife. When we’re more aware of the impact our words and behaviors have on others, we are more inclined to make wiser, kinder choices moving forward.
Marriage counselors do an excellent job of listening. However, they also do their fair share of educating. How? Yours may explain to you how your actions affect your partner’s and vice versa.
7. It Can Be the Cornerstone of Recovery Success
You did it! You attended couples therapy with your partner while he or she worked through mental health issues. You’re now at home with a therapy plan and notes on the next steps. The best part? You’re feeling closer than ever to your partner. You may be tempted to call and cancel your upcoming marital counseling or relationship counseling session, but don’t.
Think of couples therapy as strength training. If we trained our muscles hard one time, it would be unrealistic to expect them to remain powerful for the rest of our lives. Rather, we have to maintain what we have worked for.
Attending therapy together, even when you’re feeling strong as a couple, is key. You might not need to attend as often but making routine “check-in” appointments is key to maintaining your momentum.
8. It Opens Your Eyes
Most of us have an image in our minds of a perfect marriage, a peaceful office, and a family without conflict. As such, when we do experience ebbs and flows in those relationships, it can be difficult to stay the course. A marriage counselor can help explain what a healthy and productive relationship looks like, which includes the following cornerstones:
4. Common goals
5. “We” not “me” language
Your relationship might not be perfect, but does it include those elements in its foundation? If so, you’re off to a great start and you’ve got an excellent platform to work with. Still, when you’re in the thick of them, mental health disorders can feel like an all-consuming tidal wave. It’s easy to let the negative and the worrisome shroud the good.
Your counselor will help you find common ground and go back to a more solid time. As you do, you may realize that you’re a stronger team than you thought.
Book a Couples Counseling Session Today
No two people are perfect. But, together, they can make a strong pair. Along the way, there are plenty of roadblocks that could threaten your efforts to bond with your partner. Mental health disorders are one of these, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as resentment.
Whether you’re the one suffering or you’re on the other side of it, there could be years of pain, heartache, and grief pent up inside. Couples counseling can help you verbally express these issues in a safe place.
If you are unsure where to start or how to start this process, reach out for counseling services. We are here to help!
To book our counseling and coaching services visit: Nayaclinics.com/book-online
Naya Clinics and Services are offered in