When frustrated couples who have been married for a long time come to the marriage counselor and family psychologist Aaron Anderson, they want advice and want it quickly.
“Normally, they’ve been having problems for several years and have tried to deal with them on their own,”explains Anderson, director of the Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, USA, to the US edition of the HuffPost. “They’ve been having a hard time because of an unhappy marriage and they’ve had enough, so they come to me.
Even though marriage counselors like Anderson may not have all the answers, his words often help clarify things. Below you can find their best advice for couples with problems who want to fix their marriage.
1. We have to ask ourselves if it is worth saving even 10% of the marriage.
“If couples focus on the positive side of the situation, however small, they already have a foundation on which to rebuild their relationship. Most marriages have mixed feelings about divorce, but they have fallen into toxic behavior that focuses on each other’s weaknesses. If they are able to think about where their marriage and partner are good, they will have the key to starting to rebuild their relationship. Samantha Rodman, psychologist from Takoma Park, Maryland (United States).
2. Keep in mind that this may be a bad streak.
“The attitude in the face of a marriage crisis can change from wanting to give up on wanting to fix it for a period of one or two years. I tell my clients that we have to let the consequences of the crisis settle down a little bit to find out what they really want. Becky Whetstone, marriage counselor and family psychologist from Little Rock, Arkansas (United States).
3. You have to touch your partner again, even if it’s uncomfortable.
“When your relationship is about to break up, the last thing you feel like doing is giving each other hugs and saying nice things. But it has to be done. Yes, when a relationship has problems, being affectionate is not natural, it seems forced and automatic. A relationship thrives on affection and love, so you have to get to the point where it begins to look more natural. Send your partner a romantic message or send flowers to work. He’ll know it’s a little forced, but he’ll usually appreciate the gesture. Aaron Anderson.
4. It is important to know that conflict offers opportunities for growth.
“Trouble doesn’t mean the marriage has to end. Conflicts mean that new opportunities for growth are opening up. Almost all relationships go from romantic happiness to a power struggle. During this transitional period, we often have a defensive and protective attitude. From that perspective, we begin to justify why it’s all our partner’s fault. This helps our partner react negatively, usually moving away or attacking. This situation can grow like a snowball and end up causing both members of the couple to believe that it is impossible to recover the love they once had. But it can be recovered if appropriate communication techniques are used. Jeannie Ingram, marriage counselor from Nashville, Tennessee, United States.
5. You have to get used to saying “I” instead of “we”.
“Everyone knows that marriage is a two-way thing. And when there’s trouble, you’re contributing too. Instead of saying things like’ we discuss a lot’ or’ sex is not like it used to be between us’, think about what you have done to contribute to these problems. For example, you can say things like’ we discuss a lot and I contribute by letting insignificant things bother me’. O’ sex is no longer like before, but I have to show a more open attitude when my partner is on his side. Fixing everyone’s problems can improve the relationship. Aaron Anderson.