Isn't marriage weird? We go through life and end up crossing paths with someone and ask, "Will you be my friend for the rest of our lives?" That's a pretty big question to answer but doesn't seem so hard in the beginning. Let's fast forward a few years, especially around the 7-8 year mark, and you both might be looking at each other going, "WHAT was I thinking!?"
Relationships are complicated and messy but, the good news is, they are also super flexible and forgiving. By that I simply mean that things we may have declared as "deal breakers" before walking down the aisle aren't as cut and dry when you add years of shared life experiences to the mix, along with significant life decisions, memories, family / social bonds and possibly children. Not so easy anymore to quickly say, "I'm done."
I'm sharing all of this to help normalize what you may be experiencing in your own marriage right now. Maybe you feel betrayed, hurt, alone or frustrated and trying so hard to figure out what step to take next... should you stay or should you go? This level of decision making can be downright crazy making and consuming. In fact, I can feel the stress and tension rising up in me simply writing about it!
When people are faced with this kind of heavy decision making, it can feel hopeless because you keep looking at the same person, the same information, feeling the same feelings and left to believe there is no chance for anything different. Our views, thoughts, and even emotions, can begin to feel rigid. One of my goals in working with couples is to help them regain some flexibility in the relationship dynamic. Working together, partners can begin seeing aspects of their spouse that they haven't seen or felt in years... maybe ever. Tension can begin to soften and people can start to feel hopeful.
Even if you've been in marriage counseling before, I encourage you to try again. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an evidence-supported approach to marriage counseling that offers much more than dry, stale "solutions" to old "problems." As a male client just stated this week about previous counseling attempts, "We're not looking for advice on how to argue better." EFT helps couples get to a place where they can see and hear each other... and find connection and partnership again (or possibly for the first time).
Counseling doesn't have to take years, really. The time spent in counseling is not only an investment into the health of your marriage, but likely will end up being a fraction of the amount of time you have spent feeling hurt, alone or angry. Call me anytime with questions or to schedule your first appointment.
Have a wonderful Friday!
Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Knoxville, TN 37931
Grace Counseling Associates, PLLC