All relationships have ups and downs, but what really determines a healthy relationship is being able to work through the lows and keep a united front. Moments of tension can appear even in the best times of a relationship and, if they are not solved, they can turn into toxic behaviours that can really affect a couple in the long run. While some issues can be solved by sitting down and having an open conversation, others might need a little bit of help from an expert. What many couples are often wondering is: When is it right to take a step back and seek professional help to salvage the relationship? Truth is, there is no harm in looking for an expert opinion when you think you can’t handle things on your own, but sometimes asking for a third party to get involved into your personal life can often make or break a relationship. Below are some of the most clear signs your relationship might need a little help to get on the right course again:
Same arguments over and over again
When you begin sharing your life with someone, there might be some things that you both have to change, in order to solve your differences. But when you keep fighting about the same thing over and over again, it might be a sign that you are not communicating properly. Chances are, the roots of your arguments might be a bit different than what you are letting show. Relationship counselling can teach you how to express your feelings in a way that your partner won’t find offensive. For instance, instead of arguing with your partner about not taking out the trash, expressing your concerns in a nice way can lead to a more positive outcome.
You stopped spending quality time together
Sure, you might be thinking that eating and sleeping together every time can be counted as spending time together, but that’s not the chance. Date nights, going out with friends or simply going for a walk in the park together is extremely important in maintaining a healthy relationship. If you find yourself only spending time together when doing chores or having dinner, and even then, your discussions might feel more like arguments, then it may be time to think about seeking a bit of help from the outside.
Jealousy controls your relationship
In small doses, jealousy is believed to be a sign of affection, but when exaggerated, it can cause your relationship to fall apart. If you are constantly bothered by the way your partner interacts with others, there might be a different reason you are feeling this way. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if what you are feeling is based on real facts or there might be some issues in your past relationships that affect the way you look at things now. A good therapist will be able to guide you through the process of discovering where the problems lay. A big mistake people always make is brushing off the normal feeling of jealousy because they fear their partner might think it is not rational. But ignoring what you feel will not help solve it either.
You lack communication
This is often the main reason why couples turn to therapy. Usually, one of the partners notices that communication has started to grow negative or even one-sided. Communication problems are often the core that generates conflicts between couples. A lot of the times, one of the partners just doesn’t feel heard and this happens because the other partner seems more focused on solving the problems instead of listening to the other person. Some of the rules that counsellors apply during therapy is to stop generalizing, for example saying “always” or “never” when arguing and avoid using “you” statements and speak from the “I” point of view.
Your sex life is decreasing
When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, chances are your sex drive is not the same as it was when you first meet and that is completely normal. But when physical affection has become significantly rare, chances are your relationship might need some help. A therapist will help you identify the cause of your bedroom problems. It may be because one of you has become self-conscious about their body or performance. Or because work stress gets in the way and can’t let you relax. Some people have a hard time discussing sex, even with their partner, and might need a bit of help to open up and address those issues. If this is not a subject you can easily discuss, bringing it up in fights can lead to even more frustration. Therapy can help you find a way to understand what you both need from each other.
You act defensive in fights
Even though nobody is accusing you of anything, you start acting defensive and trying to justify your actions. This might be a sign you feel your partner is always blaming you for whatever problems you might be having, but it can also be a problem that has nothing to do with them and a lot more to do with you. Acting defensive or not responding well when receiving criticism can be an issue that started as early as childhood. The reasons for a defensive behaviour are extremely important to understand, in order to be able to let go of the impulse to self-protect.
You blame each other
When you are not communicating and the issues remain unresolved, sometimes it is just much easier to start blaming each other and avoid taking responsibility. Chances are, most of the time, there is not one person that is constantly guilty for all the wrongs in the relationship. Having a neutral place to talk about the reasons you think the other one might be responsible for something that’s been causing your fights might help see if that’s really the case. An impartial third party that can hear both sides of the story can help you acknowledge your own issues and how they might be affecting the other partner.