Marriage is one of the most significant steps a couple can take together, comparable to having children, purchasing a home, and moving away from family and friends to support one’s partner. Along with marriage (or any cohabitating relationship) typically comes the belief that no matter what happens, it will only help you grow stronger. A lot of the time, it does. But what happens when it feels like you are starting to grow apart?
Often the root causes of the issue are the expectations couples have about the other and about their marriage. We expect our partners to keep us up to date on their thoughts and feelings rather than setting aside a few conscious moments to ask. We expect them to help fulfill our needs without telling them when and how those needs have changed. We expect that these issues, and others, will be communicated to us and that we will always be abreast of what is going on internally with someone. Sometimes this is a recipe for resentment or even infidelity when it goes ignored.
Sharing a life together does not always mean growing and changing at the same pace or in the same direction.
We change and grow at our own pace and sometimes our partners are on a different growth chart altogether. As their needs change, ours change too, and we may find ourselves out of step with the other and feeling unimportant, unseen, unloved.
How do we fix this? How do we get back to a healthier way of being together?
This is where working with a therapist can help. Marriage counseling is about facilitating communication and connection, which is the foundation that allows couples to develop overall healthier relationships and stay in tune as they grow. Through therapy, couples can learn how to communicate more effectively, and in that process, their marriage therapist can help uncover and process problems within the relationship that remain to be addressed.
What if the issues you are experiencing are regarding feelings of unhappiness or appreciation?
When couples do not take the time to express their appreciation for each other, it can lead to one or both spouses feeling undervalued. Whether a full-time career or full-time childcare, each person is doing something daily to contribute to the marriage and keep it afloat. But, if one spouse fails to acknowledge the other's efforts, that person's sense of worth can be invalidated, leading to arguments and other lasting problems. That underappreciated spouse may even start seeking validation from someone else, and maybe you are aware of this because infidelity is something you hope to work through.
Whatever the reason you are feeling disconnected, you can access marriage counseling in Jacksonville, right at our office. Your therapist can help you get to the root of these vulnerable feelings and problems. They will give you both a clearer picture of what your relationship used to look like, compared to the state that it is in now. A marriage counselor can help you identify what has been missing, broken, or causing affliction so that you know where to channel your focus and how to mend the necessary pieces to move forward.
Thrivemind offers marriage counseling in Jacksonville and provides a safe space that encourages honest and amicable communication, where couples can learn to express their emotions without attacking the other person. In doing so, each person can acknowledge the unique feelings and thoughts of their partner more productively. Through effective communication facilitated by expert help, you can renegotiate terms for a "new" relationship based on what you learn here, putting the old one behind you both. Your therapist will help guide you as you work through this next stage together.
It is ultimately up to you to cooperate with your partner during marriage counseling, but therapy offers the safest and most effective space to do so. The silver lining of feeling like you have grown apart is that you now have a chance to build a stronger and healthier marriage on a new foundation. Therapy will give you the tools to help establish new boundaries and behaviors so you can focus on rebuilding a partnership that you both love to be a part of.
Priscila Norris, LCSW, RYT