There is the “should” that says that you should be able to solve your own problems without help. Here is the rationale: “If your relationship has enough tension and strain that help is needed, the relationship is not going to make it anyway, so why waste time and money with counseling?” The reality is that if you give up on your marriage before learning the skills that you need to make it a happy marriage, you lose. Everyone involved loses.
There seems to be a current trend of just giving up when things get difficult. It seems consistent with a culture that calculates the cost of effort and determines that it is more expedient to throw something away and replace it than to repair it. It makes sense on the surface. If you don’t know how to fix something, the time and energy you would spend in figuring out how to fix it or learning how to fix it, might not be your best investment.
Yet, you will seek help for other things that you don’t have the knowledge or skill to repair. When the plumbing in your house breaks down, you don’t sell the house or give it away. You call the plumber. You don’t dispose of your car because the door handle falls off. Most people will seek medical help when they discover that they have symptoms that need attention.
Most people do not get formal training in how to be a “husband” or a “wife”, yet they assume that they are experts in these roles. Many marital partners grow up with poor roles models. Instead of assuming that they may need some tutoring or education, they may, instead, believe that they need only do the opposite of what they learned from their parents. This may seem like a good solution.
However, in reality, people who take this approach usually develop the same dynamics, but with superficial changes. Even when the stressors in a marriage become overwhelming, these couples still expect that they will be able to solve their problems without gaining any additional skill necessary to do so. These couples seem surprised and bewildered that doing more of the same things that have caused the problem do not work as solutions. When they know that what they are doing is not working, they give up instead of learning something new.
Professional marriage therapists know what to do to assist couples in learning how to fix the problems in the relationship. Since you hire a plumber to help maintain your home, it is not unreasonable to hire a professional marriage counselor to help maintain or help fix the most important thing in your life-your marriage. Marital problems, like many other problems in life can be solved with a plan of action and expertise to carry it out.
Marriage takes work. There are many articles and other helpful resources on my website for your use. You may purchase and download “The Honey Jar”, A Couple Communication tool. Go to http://www.peggyferguson.com/TheHoneyJar.en.html or http://www.peggyferguson.com/MarriageArticles.en.html for more information on saving your marriage.
The information in this article (and on my website) is for educational/information purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment.
Dr. Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., LADC, LMFT, Marriage/Family Therapist, Alcohol/Drug Counselor, provides professional counseling services in and around Stillwater, Oklahoma.