Do We Need Counseling? (Part I)
By Garrick Conner
As a counselor for 20-plus years, I’ve met a lot of couples on an intimate level. I’d like to let you in on a few signs it’s time for a couple to get more help.
Tend to these, possibly with counseling, before fissures become foundational cracks:
1. Family differences
What kind of family did you grow up in?
- Were they poor, middle-class, or wealthy?
- Who was the primary breadwinner?
- Did you have siblings?
- Were your parents happily married, unhappily married, or divorced?
We learn a lot about how to do life from the people who raise us. These differences can be divisive and polarizing.
2. Communication problems; poor conflict resolution
Even the best relationships can fall victim to bad communication. Whether it shows up in the extremes of avoidance or over-talking, a communication style can set the stage for success or failure.
If you and your spouse aren’t connecting as well as you’d like, don’t call a lawyer just yet. A competent counselor, a decent book or workbook, or FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® can help develop healthy communication skills.
Much of what we learn is modeled for us in our families of origin. (Them again.) Did yours yell or throw stuff? Simmer quietly, but seek to jab or manipulate? That’s likely to show up in your marriage as well.
3. Financial issues
There’s usually a spender and a saver. But with two spenders, you’ve got a challenge to reaching goals and managing a household well. This is especially true if you get into a habit of charging things on credit cards and not paying cards off every month.
Student loan debt is also common in financial stress—not a deal breaker, but you do need an aggressive plan.
Lots of people have great aspirational goals: “I’m going to start saving!”; “I’m going to set up an emergency fund.” But saying and doing are totally different things. Pay real attention to this: Financial stress is one of the top reasons marriages fall apart.
Tomorrow’s signs are more serious, often requiring counseling.
The good stuff: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
Action points: In what areas are you and your spouse naturally the most different? Which of these tends more toward causing issues between you, rather than just complementing or causing small ripples? Decide on at least one actionable solution.
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