Dear Rabbi Schonbuch,
My husband and I are having trouble in our marriage. We tend to fight about the same issues every day and he’s very emotionally distant. At what point should I consider seeing a marriage therapist?
A professional who practices marriage therapy can act as a mediator when it comes to disagreements and personality differences. These differences can cause any number of arguments. Most of the rifts a couple experiences have the potential to end peacefully, but then there are those rough and tumble situations where there seems no hope in sight. When the stability of your relationship is in question, marital therapy can provide you with the best relationship advice and guidance.
Seeking out this unbiased guidance from a mediator, who is professionally trained in such matters, is a good way to begin getting back what the two of you have lost. The therapist will offer you his or her expertise and qualified suggestions. It can be nice to have that cushion when you and your spouse can’t seem to get past your problems and communication between the two of have stalled.
Family counselors are certified professionals with experience in all types of situations. Marriage therapy advice is a just a small portion of what they offer to couples. They can also instruct a couple on ways to strengthen their bond, improve their listening skills to better understand each other, and increase their conversational and interpersonal skills.
A marriage therapist will never place blame on a guilty party, if there is one. They will only try to help you work through the misconceptions, accusations, and ego trips that may bring negative feelings into the relationship. You’ll find that marriage and family therapy has a significant impact on your relationship and your lives. When communication becomes stagnant or no longer exists between loved ones, family therapists can guide and teach you to share your feelings once again. They give a person permission to share their deepest fears and desires without feeling guilty or ridiculed by their partner. Egos are checked at the door when a mediator is present, for there is no room for them in a successful relationship.
Boredom, emotional neglect, lack of communication or attachment issues from childhood are just a few reasons why marriage problems may occur. Whether the problems are compounded or there is just one single issue, it is still enough to shake the foundations of a relationship. When the couple fails to identify the causes of their difficulties, confusion and separation from the relationship can soon follow.
Sometimes, when a couple takes advice from a marriage therapist, issues are revealed that were once hidden due to anger, misunderstandings, and a breach of trust. The goal is for the two of you to use the advice to work things out together and learn ways to overcome obstacles in the future.
There is the belief, or opinion, that family therapy should only be undertaken when a situation is too dire for repair. This is completely false. Marriage/family therapy can be beneficial to any couple that is having issues – at any stage in their relationship.
In many instances, troubled couples thought they were destined for divorce, and had actually started the proceedings, before they engaged in any type of family therapy. Once they have begun participating in regular appointments with their family therapist they may find that divorce is not necessarily a viable option. The family therapy sessions may save their marriages from failing and teach them how to relate to each other in a more efficient manner.
It is best to begin family and marriage therapy when problems are still in the early stages. This is because the sooner a couple engages in therapy, the quicker and easier it will be to eliminate any misconceptions, anger, frustrations, and trust issues they may have.
Now, there are always those stubborn partners who refuse to participate in counseling. This should not stop the one individual who wishes to seek out help. A marriage therapist can help the individual work through his/her own personal issues and, hopefully, once their partner sees the remarkable effects therapy is having on their spouse, they may want to join in on the sessions.
Don’t be surprised when the marriage counselor digs deep into your private life. No judgments will be placed on you; it just gives the therapist a way of understanding what makes you tick. It’s common to feel uncomfortable with disclosing so much personal information, but as your sessions progress, that queasy feeling will dissipate. The more open you become, the easier it will be to accept truths and understandings.
Seeking out professional guidance when your relationship appears to be bleak and unsalvageable is the wisest thing you could ever do. Regardless of the price you pay for family therapy, it can never be as expensive as losing a family.
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch is a marriage and family therapist who maintains a practice in Brooklyn specializing in couples therapy and families with teenagers at risk. For an appointment in person or via the phone/Internet, visit JewishMarriageSupport.com or call 646-428-4723.