Infidelity could mean that a relationship partner has a physical relationship with a third party (outside of the relationship). This could have been a one-time occurrence or it could have happened multiple times, and it could include touching, kissing, or any sexual contact.
An emotional affair is when one partner grows too romantically connected to an outside party. They may or may not have a physical relationship, but they often share intimate conversations and interactions in the way couples engage.
This could lead to the two falling in soto-love, a romanticized version of love where part of the couple begins to feel connected to someone else who is providing the needs that his/her partner is not. At times, a true romance can also develop.
Depending on the couple’s belief system, infidelity could also occur when one partner looks at pornography. According to Mathew 5:27-28, “You heard that it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Infidelity can rapidly end a relationship and break trust, but it is possible to recover from it with the right help. It does not have to end your relationship if both partners want to reconcile and work through it.
Divorce / Separation
Divorce and separation can have a big impact on couples, individuals, and families. If you or your spouse has decided on divorce or separation, it is wise to discuss some of your issues with a couple’s therapist before making a permanent decision.
People choose divorce or separation for a number of reasons, and unfortunately, some cannot reconcile after therapy. However, therapy can turn it around and save a relationship if both partners are willing to put in the hard work.
Many couples do not know how to effectively communicate with each other, often resulting in miscommunication that can lead to more serious problems. Partners may not have seen good communication strategies with their own parents while growing up, or they may have been taught some unhealthy tendencies from others. Good communication does not often come naturally to partners in relationships, but it is a skill that can be honed over time.
Similar to communication struggles, conflict management is often something with which couples struggle. They don’t “fight fair,” shutting the other out, yelling, calling names, cursing, blaming, bringing up past issues, not choosing forgiveness, getting defensive, and others.
Counseling can teach new skills in order to “fight fair.” A couple can learn to focus on themselves by changing their fighting style, which can reduce conflict and make disagreements less personal.
Falling out of love / Growing apart
Today people equate a healthy, thriving relationship with being in love, and so when they walk through seasons (and they will) when they do not feel as “in love,” they worry that their relationship is over.
Though love is a key part of the foundation of a healthy relationship, feelings of “in love” wax and wane over time. A couple may also need to mend hurts that have occurred throughout the relationship and learn to love again.
If a couple has grown apart, it is possible to become reacquainted and start to build a new interest in one another. It is important and vital to continue to build positive moments and turn toward each other no matter what has caused distance amongst the couple, and counseling can help with this.
Major life adjustments
A job change, a move, stages in your kids’ development, loss, pregnancy/ infertility, and other types of change can cause a lot of strain on a relationship. People are able to make it through them, but sometimes counseling could help if you find that the adjustments seem to be causing stress on your relationship.
Financial stress is one of the top issues that couples argue about, so sometimes they need a third party to help walk them through financial decisions. A financial advisor is also someone who could help in a situation like this one.
When one or both partners are engaged in substance abuse, traditional couples counseling may not be as effective until they individually seek professional help to overcome their addiction.
A partner who decides to stay with a spouse or significant other may seek help through Alcoholics Anonymous and other programs that focus on treatment for the addict’s family. Addiction can cause relationships to crumble and can cause a lot of pain and stress on the family. This is not an issue to ignore.
Though couples often struggle to acknowledge sexual dissatisfaction, it is one of the biggest areas of contention in relationships. It is good and healthy to be open about the sexual health of your relationship with each other and with a counselor so that you can work to improve it.
Many couples have difficulty sharing their thoughts and feeling about sex in the relationship, but with the help and care of a professional counselor, individuals can eliminate shame learn to communicate their desires.
Sexual dissatisfaction can come from past trauma, sexual dysfunction, or a misunderstanding of your partner. It is possible to grow in this; it just takes patience, understanding of your partner’s sexual needs, and a willingness to meet those needs as best you can.
Childrearing or parenting conflicts
Some couples cannot seem to get on the same page about parenting decisions, and this can be a major source of conflict. Differences in the way each person was raised can play a huge part in this. Parenting can create a substantial amount of strain on a relationship, but it does not have to break it.
A counselor can help the couple understand the issues, problem-solve, and resolve the “solvable” issues. Learning to identify unspoken and unrealistic expectations can reduce conflict and help a couple discuss and plan the vision they have for a family.