You don’t recognize the partner you met a few years ago. You used to share inside jokes and you always knew how to make each other smile. Now, you find yourself crying a lot more than laughing. The relationship isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be, and you’re not sure what to do. Do you leave so you can get some relief, or do you tough it out and see where things go? If this situation describes what you’re experiencing in your relationship right now, you might be thinking about booking an appointment with a couples therapist. Here are some hints that it’s time.
One or both of you cheated
Infidelity has a way of shaking the foundation of even the strongest relationship. The pain of discovering your partner cheated on you can take years to get over. Once trust has been betrayed it can be very difficult to restore. If you and your partner plan on staying together, you’ll need a therapist to help you navigate through this difficult time. Don’t go it alone in a situation where cheating took place.
Your sex life has gone down the drain
One of the first signs that something is amiss in your relationship is when sex becomes a lot less frequent or stops altogether. It’s important to get to the root of the problem before resentment builds. Therapist Rhonda Milrad, founder of online relationship community Relationup, says most couples’ sex lives wax and wane, but you need to do something when the dry spell is prolonged. “Before long, months, or even years have gone by and you don’t know how to get your sex life back on track. Often, a therapist can help you reboot your sexual relationship,” Milrad told The Cheat Sheet.
You argue all the time
Have things gotten to the point where you can’t even say “hello” without an argument breaking out? It’s exhausting to be in a relationship with someone when you’re constantly bickering. Home is a place where you should be able to let your guard down and relax, so conversations should at least be civil. If you can’t exist in the same space without walking on eggshells, this should be cause for concern.
Your communication is toxic
Some couples seek therapy when they’re not communicating at all. However, others have trouble with how they are communicating. If it seems as if every conversation you have with your partner ends in a caustic exchange, it’s time to speak to a professional. “Highly combative, argumentative communication is problematic in that argumentative escalations keep partners from attending to the real issues,” said Carla Marie Manly, a Santa Rosa, California-based clinical psychologist. “As well, some couples go over the same topics again and again with no progress being made. This creates additional confusion and frustration.”
You keep fighting about the same issue
It’s one thing when you and your partner argue all the time. It’s quite another issue when you keep having the same argument, though. This is an indication that there are unresolved issues that need to be addressed. “Couples can end up feeling discouraged, defeated, and resentful. These are symptoms of intimacy or communication troubles, which a couple’s therapist is uniquely qualified to support you through,” said marriage and family therapist Shadeen Francis.
You don’t talk anymore
If you and your partner are struggling with toxic communication, you probably wish you had this problem instead. Some couples get to the point where productive communication stops dead in its tracks. If you’re barely breathing two words to each other all day, it’s only a matter of time before your relationship completely breaks down and you go your separate ways.
You’ve tried everything on your own
Another sign it’s time to seek help is if you and your partner have tried everything on your own, but you still can’t seem to resolve your relationship issues. You’ve gone on marriage retreats, you’ve sought advice from friends and family, and you’ve tried individual therapy, but nothing seems to stick.
Instead of trying the same methods again and again, talk to someone who specializes in relationship issues. “Just as most of us would see a mechanic for anything beyond simple vehicle maintenance, see a therapist when you can’t do what you need to do on your own,” couple and family counselor Hayden Lindsey told The Cheat Sheet. Beyond that, I would encourage anyone to trust their gut. If you think things can be better, you’re probably right.”
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