The first few months of a new relationship are the best, aren’t they? It’s all about the nervous energy, long conversations about the future, meeting the family for the first time, and spending every waking moment together. Ah, love!
If you’re in it for the long haul, get ready, because those months of bliss are the easy part. As a couple, you’re sure to face a few bumps in the road, but don’t stress. Successful couples know it’s the bumps that shape your character as a couple – the strong make it through and the weak fall apart.
So, how do you know when you’ve hit a bump and what can you do? For the inside scoop, we asked Dr. Roxanne Bamond, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and full-time faculty for Northcentral University’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences, for some red flags that can help you prepare for potential bumps ahead and know when to seek help.
1. “Maybe a therapist could help us?”
Many times, one partner suggests going to therapy before the other realizes there is a problem. Even if the suggestion wasn’t yours, don’t ignore this or blame your partner. Take the suggestion as a compliment – your partner wants to make things work!
2. “I wish my partner was as good a listener as you!”
If you find yourself complaining to your friend about your partner’s bad habits, or engaging in long, intimate chats with the person in the next cubicle, take a moment to stop and reflect on your actions. When you begin discussing the intimate aspects of your relationship with other people, you are at risk of creating an emotional bond with a person outside of your relationship.
3. “Have you two thought about going to therapy?”
Oftentimes, our closest friends and family can see our relationship derailing before we can. If someone close to you points out flaws in your relationship don’t take it personally – they are just trying to help. Take the opportunity to open your eyes, look forward, and take an honest look at your relationship.
4. “What happened to date night?”
Life is hectic for people who are working, going to school, raising a family and engaged in community activities. For many couples, the first thing eliminated from the schedule is time spent with each other. If you find that it takes too much effort, you’re too exhausted, or you simply do not want to create the time to spend with each other, checking in with a therapist is in order.
5. “Our kids are driving us crazy!”
Often, differing parenting styles can lead to polarization in a couple’s relationship. Therefore, when your children are having difficulties, it is likely that those difficulties will bleed into your relationship with your partner.
If you find that your kids are becoming a source of division, it’s time to seek help. Marriage and family therapists are specially trained to understand the family dynamic and help the entire family get to a better place.
6. “I am afraid to talk to my partner.”
If your arguments have become violent or scary, it may be time to seek help individually with a therapist. Marriage and family therapists are not only trained to assist with family issues as a group, they are also able to help the relationship by working with one family member at a time. Acknowledging and discussing your fears, anxiety and anger with a therapist can help open more effective lines of communication with your partner.
7. “I don’t know how I feel anymore.”
We’ve all had tough days, but taking out your frustration on your partner causes undue tension. Try talking to a professional on an individual basis about life and the struggles that come along with it. As you start to feel better about yourself, you’ll find that you can invest more positive energy in to your relationship.