3 Signs It's Time To Seek Marriage Counseling
When I initially wrote the article Why Can’t I stop fighting in front of my children for the Washington Post several years ago, I had no idea that it would unleash a virtual hail storm of hate aimed directly at me.
Why did I write it and put myself out there in the stratosphere, to be picked apart and judged by anonymous, faceless Internet users, the majority of whom harshly criticized my admission that I fought in front of my kids? I’ll be honest- initially I wrote it because it was my truth. I also believed in being forthcoming about the experiences I was having, perhaps I’d open the door for others to come clean-about the stuff that went on behind their closed doors too.
In my post I tried not to come across as a mother who felt validated in arguing with my husband in front of my kids; it was more about admitting that I was flawed and worried these flaws would have long-lasting consequences on my kids. I admitted I wanted to stop, but by the same token, I also wasn’t willing to walk around with anger bubbling over until it ate away at the lining of my stomach.
The truth is, being married is hard work, it's a job that requires you show up and fight for it everyday. And I'm not sure if my marriage were under a microscope like that of Bruce Jenner and Kris Jenner- whose union is currently being served up as an example of a couple who fights so often that it's time they sought marriage counseling- that mine could withstand that kind of intense white, hot scrutiny. But I also do think that fighting in any relationship is healthy and natural as opposed to being in one of those marriages where no one argues, only to divorce after 25 years of marriage because rather than work through their anger the spouses held it in only to allow it to suffocate their relationship to the point of burying it.
Yet, with that said, being in a marriage sometimes it's hard to be objective about the quality of your relationship and whether or not all that fighting is symptomatic of a larger issue and whether your arguments are not leading the two of you to more strife as opposed to solutions. Of course I worry about this as well, as my husband and I tend to argue a good deal, in fact we actually call ourselves the Bickersons. So I asked Wokie Nwabueze a conflict resolution expert who hosts a weekly radio show -Make Peace at Home to share three tips which indicate that it's time for a couple to seek marriage counseling, i.e., all that fighting is simply leading to more fighting and not the peace and tranquility a couple is seeking.
#1 - Resentment permeates your lives
Conflict becomes very challenging to resolve when a couple is harboring unspoken resentment. Communication while in conflict is easier to deliver and receive when there is a willingness to move beyond the problem, when the parties can give each other the benefit of the doubt (at least for the conversation) and when each person is able to view the conflict from a healthy and balanced perspective.
#2 - Your arguments replay themselves over and over and over...
When couples find that the same issues reemerge whenever there is tension or conflict, it is a reasonable sign that their communication is missing the mark leaving important issues unresolved. Marital issues are intensely personal and difficult. Discussing these issues with the clarity and depth it takes to truly resolve conflicts requires a skill that most of us are not taught. The help of a third party. An often provide a safe space and a neutral point of view through which to have difficult conversations.
#3 - Arguments escalate and become destructive
If couples find that their discussions often escalate to destructive fights, it may be time to seek help. Destructive behaviors in conflict include yelling, name calling, threats and obviously violence of any kind. If a person or couple cannot handle difficult emotions constructive, outside help may be a viable option.
So do you think it's time for the Jenners to seek counseling?!