Brian and I have been married for seven years and things are going downhill. There were a lot of red flags when we were dating but I ignored them because Brian swept me right off my feet and said he really wanted to make a commitment. But it’s becoming obvious that we just don’t get along.
We argue over little things and our two kids, Becca, 3, and Patrick, 5, are becoming upset and attention seeking. Becca won’t go to sleep on her own and Patrick has been having more temper tantrums.
Before Patrick was born, we already had problems but things started getting worse because we don’t spend time together and I have a stressful new teaching job. Rick comes from a very traditional background and thinks that I should do most of the errands, plus take care of the housework and kids.
It’s getting to the point where I feel resentful and don’t even want to have sex anymore. I know plenty of couples who both work full-time and share responsibilities but we just have an endless round of arguments that never get resolved. It’s gotten worse since I went back to work full-time as a teacher.
We’ve lost most of our loving and passionate feelings for each other and I don’t know how to get them back. I can’t remember the last time we had sex and it didn’t really repair things – we were just going through the motions. My friend Meghan is going for couples counseling and says it helps her marriage but Brian is resistant to going. What can I do to convince Brian to go to see a counselor with me?
Yours is a common problem. What makes for a happy, fulfilled relationship? How can you prevent divorce? The good news is that there are some simple things you can do – positive steps – that can make your relationship better if you and Brian are motivated to make some changes.
One of the main ways you can determine whether couples counseling will help your marriage is your commitment to working on it. For some couples, marriage counseling is really divorce counseling because they’ve already thrown in the towel. For instance, one or both partners may have already decided to end the marriage and he/she uses the counseling as a way to announce this to their partner.
Sometimes, the problems in a marriage can be too ingrained and longstanding for the counseling to be effective. For others, they haven’t taken the time to choose a therapist who is a good fit for them. Hopefully, these issues do not pertain to your situation.
All relationships have ups and downs and work stress can have a negative impact on a marriage. You mention that you’re more stressed recently due to your new job and this could be putting more stain on your relationship. Since you just started a new job, this may not be the best time to make a decision about ending your marriage.
You also mentioned that you’d like Brian to do more chores and spend time doing things you enjoy. Perhaps if you discuss your work hours and responsibilities, you can come up with an arrangement that seems fair for both of you and will minimize resentment. Use active listening and “I” statements such as “I’d appreciate more support with the kids and house so I’ll feel less stressed” rather than a “You” statement such as “You never help out around the house.”The key is taking responsibility for your own behavior and honest communication with your partner. Renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman reminds us that friendship is the glue that can hold a marriage together: “Couples who “know each other intimately [and] are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams” are couples who make it.”
How can I convince my husband to go for marriage counseling?
- Tell Your Partner that an Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure. A motivated couple can begin to explore their problems from a new perspective and can learn new ways to recognize and resolve conflicts as a result of the tools provided by the therapist.
- Explain to Your Husband that It’s Easier to Work on Your Marriage in a Calm, Low-Stress Setting. A trained counselor has the resources and skills to help you get back on track.
- Therapy sessions guided by a seasoned couple’s counselor can provide “neutral territory” to help you work through tough issues or to put aside “baggage” that prevents the couple from moving on.
- Suggest that your husband attend four sessions as a trial and help you select a therapist so he is more engaged in the process.
- Tell Your Partner you’ll be able to look ahead to the future with more confidence. Couples can decide to rebuild their marriage and make a renewed commitment, or clarify the reasons why they need to separate or end the marriage.
Studies show that focusing on developing shared experiences could help you and Rick rev up the love and passion in your marriage. Also, plan some intentional time together every day – like going for a 30-minute walk or sharing conversation over your favorite beverage. For marriage counseling to be effective, you both need to be willing to take responsibility for your part in the problems, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and be motivated to repair your relationship. It’s important for you to have realistic expectations because it takes more than a few sessions to shed light on the dynamics and to begin the process of change.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry