We used to love each other. Then we started drifting apart. Our sex life is inexistent. When we fight, the things we say to each other leave a wound that keeps festering. Sometimes I think she has someone else. We speak about separating, I can’t bear the thought of losing her …Will therapy help?
As a couples therapist this scenario is something that I meet very frequently.
On a positive note, in countries like the US, where divorce has been introduced much before Malta, while 50% of marriages end in divorce, the rates are falling as couple therapy becomes more available. Statistics suggest that going to a professional therapist, and confronting the issues that are shaking the foundations of your relationship can save a marriage.
A good therapist does not take sides
One of the most important tasks when working with couples is to provide the space for both partners to openly talk about what is going on. This helps to improve communication. As the narrative of both partners unfolds, therapy pushes the partners to reflect on what is going on. Many times practical tips, or homework, is given with the specific intention to improve the relationship. The therapist will leave it up to the couple to follow these tips, yet because your therapist will take into account both sides, this can be a valuable help for a couple.
The therapy room is a safe space
When someone is hurt, I frequently see that words come out too brutally. Usually what starts as a normal conversation might end up with the partners venting out and hurting each other and this conflict might end up harming rather than helping the spouses to understand what is not working in their relationship.
The difference between a conflict at home and a therapy session is that a therapist ensures safety while the couple are expressing their views. This facilitates the process of being honest with each other and moving past issues without hurting each other in the process or feeling that you are judged when opening up.
A place to get rid of toxic emotions
Keeping frustration and resentment bottled up often leads to these feelings becoming more intense. The more partners heighten their defenses and communicate only to attack the other, the lower the chance of the relationship thriving past this difficult patch.
A place to rebuild trust
Whether it is emotional abuse, neglecting your partner, or infidelity, that sense of betrayal might grow to a point where trust can be irrevocably broken . By being honest about this and the feelings it elicits, the partners can understand more about the perspective of the other and trust can slowly rebuild.
The therapeutic process is a journey that takes time, patience and the willingness to make sacrifices for the wellbeing of a relationship yet researchers suggest that if both parties are open to this process, a relationship has a good chance to survive.
Sonya Galea is a family therapist with the Willingness Team. She works with families and couples experiencing couple relationship issues and parenting struggles.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Dean M.E. (2021) The 5 things you learn in relationship counseling. Retrieved from https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/relations/the-5-things-you-learn-in-relationship-counselling/
Eldmire A. (2019.) 5 ways marriage counseling can save a troubled marriage. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/couples-thrive/201905/5-ways-marriage-counseling-can-save-troubled-marriage
Stepko B. (2020) 7 reasons you may need marriage therapy. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2020/marriage-counseling.html