Psychotherapy Perspectives

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don’t Wait to Save Your Relationship

by Garth Mintun, LCSW, ACSW

In my Indianapolis Indiana private practice, often people come in when they are at the breaking point in a long troubled marriage and about to separate or feel hopeless about a long standing “loveless marriage” for many years. In other words, the relationship or marriage is in an emergency or dying state and only intensive crisis work can save the relationship. Often one partner does not have the patience to wait, the desire for change or the hope of repair to invest in the intensive relationship work that psychotherapy or couple work requires.

When couples come in with emergency status, there often are so many long standing negative patterns that it is challenging, even with professional therapy, to salvage the relationship.

The optimal time for a couple to seek counseling is when the problems are relatively young, the couple is not disenchanted with each other, and contempt and or detachment have not taken over the relationship. This early intervention increases the chances of working out their relationship satisfactory.

The best time to begin couple counseling is when there are small troubles with the relationship. Let me list the possible signs that signal need for help:
1. He/she does not listen to me
2. He/she is holding back their feelings
3. He/she roll their eyes
4. She/he is physically present but not emotionally with me
5. I miss the romance that I once had with him/her
6. We never seem to resolve our verbal fights
7. We don’t seem to ever make time together
8. I imagine how my life would be simpler if I was single
9. I lost my best friend
10. She/he does not seem happy
11. I am not as happy as I used to be in my relationship
12. She/he is never home
13. She/he says hurtful things and doesn’t seem to care about my feelings
14. She/he never validates me or gives me appreciation I want
15. We don’t have sex very often and it is not as good as it used to be
16. I constantly find myself jealous of others
17. He/she is constantly jealous of me for nothing
18. I love him/her but I am not in love
19. We constantly verbally fight about little things that don’t matter
20. Every time we fight, he/she throws the kitchen sink at me

These signs can be alerts that harmful relationship patterns are forming, and seeking help when these behaviors and responses are few increases the success of the relationship.
All twenty signs are symptomatic of larger relationship stressors and if not addressed will mushroom and beget many smaller problems until there are significant relationship breakdowns and serious symptoms. These symptoms can come in the form of emotional and physical affairs, separation and sometimes domestic violence.
With one or just a few of these problems taken care of early when they first arise by seeing a professional psychotherapist, often at this stage the relationship is strengthened resulting in more intimacy and satisfaction. However untreated, these problems spiral out of control and couples go into crisis mode, often beyond the point of recovery.

If some of these problems are present in your relationship, don’t hesitate to get help from a professional. If you catch these problems earlier, you will go to counseling for a shorter time, will be less expensive in time and money and emotional harm, and you will probably develop a more loving and satisfying relationship.