“But marriage goes in waves. You've got to be patient. People bail and give up on their marriages way too early. They just don't put the work and the effort into it. You've got to suck up your ego a lot of times because that can be a big downfall"- Anna Benson.
Marriage isn't easy. It requires constant working upon. Whether one falls in love and marries or marries and then falls in love, the couple relationship is a complex one. Requiring generous doses of love, kindness, compassion, respect, trust, commitment, good communication as also firmness, discipline and integrity. Phew...that's quite a tall order, isn't it? Yes, of course, it is. But then, no one promised us that the fairytale ending of "And the prince and the princess lived happily ever after" happens in real life too, right? Yet, once the art of nurturing a couple relationship is learnt, it can pave the way for one of the most beautiful of all human relationships.
Too often, couples reach out for couple counselling as "the last ditch effort" or 'last resort". As they truly believed they "could sort out the problem on their own". Too often by the time they decide to seek help the pillars of a healthy marriage - trust, respect, commitment, communication have all broken down irretrievably. There's hardly anything left to repair.
There is no perfect partner or a perfect marriage/relationship. All of us enter couple relationships carrying our old baggage, including unmet emotional needs from our childhood. For each of us, the chances of this baggage playing truant are very, very real. And when that happens, some are too quick to write off the relationship. Unless the relationship is abusive, it's worth making every effort to salvage the relationship.
So, when is it time seek professional help? Ideally, at the first hint of trouble. Seeking professional help does not mean the couple are incapable or helpless. It simply means they are ready to take responsibility for their emotions and actions. A counsellor is able to view each partner and also the relationship in an objective manner, use their training and skills to identify individual issues as well as couple issues which are impacting the relationship.
Just as an uncontrolled fire can burn a building to the point of structural damage, so too uncontrolled emotions and behaviour can irreversibly damage the very fabric of intimacy. It's extremely challenging for even a highly effective counsellor to restore harmony and trust in a couple relationship once one partner has emotionally checked out of the relationship.
Like they say - A stitch in time saves nine.