Help for Troubled Marriages
Newlyweds expect that the glow and happiness of marriage will continue through the years. It is not unusual to have some disillusionment after the first few months of marriage, but knowing when things are more serious than just adjustment problems can be tricky. This information is appropriate for marriages of any length.
DANGER SIGNS - Physical, verbal, mental or sexual abuse. Excessive alcohol or drug use. Fighting dirty. Aloof and withdrawn behavior. Oppositional and Controlling behavior. Withholding affection and sexual intimacy. Lies, defensiveness, unreliability. False accusations. Unusually long hours. Imbalance of negative vs. positive interactions. Unwillingness to cooperate in decision-making. Retaliation.
Research shows that couples are in trouble an average of six years before they seek help and often by then it is too late. If a situation seems to overwhelm or concern you, please get help right away.
Things that don't work: Gossiping with family and friends about your situation. Thinking that time will cure the problem. Separation, unless it is for your safety. Blaming it all on your partner.
These do help: Support from others who have been where you are and worked through it and stayed together such as Retrouvaille. Meeting with a mentor couple. Small changes in attitude and acts of kindness toward your spouse. Marriage education classes. Getting marriage-friendly counseling .
Don't give up. Studies show that couples who learn to work through their differences and hard times experience greater marital satisfaction, and time often makes a big difference.
Marriage Friendly Counseling or Coaching
Counselors are taught to be non-judgmental and not to steer a client one way or another. Clients are encouraged to think of themselves first, what they want, and not of their spouse or family. A spouse may be seen as an obstacle holding them back and preventing them from finding their authentic self. The idea of sacrifice or working things through for the sake of the children is rarely heard. Religion is sometimes looked upon as an oppressive force in a marriage. That there may be a difference between becoming the kind of person we want to be and the kind of person God wants us to be, or that the community has a stake in the success of our marriage is truly counter-cultural! In the Chicagoland area, help for success of our marriage can be found by talking to your parish priest, or calling Catholic Charities'Holbrook Center at 312-655-7725 for marriage counseling.
The website www.catholictherapists.com maintains a listing of counselors who understand Catholic teaching on the permanence of marriage and will help couples work toward saving their marriage, if that is possible. Dr. Bill Doherty, a leader in the marriage field, maintains a national registry of marriage-friendly counselors. If you are seeing a lay counselor, be upfront with them and tell them you are looking for someone who is marriage-friendly. If you live outside of Chicago, your local parish, Catholic Charities, and many Family Life Offices maintain a list of counselors who are Catholic or understand the importance of living a faithful life.
Many couples do not know what to do or where to turn when their marriage becomes troubled. Controlled Separation is a technique that has helped couples to slow down and think about next steps. It can restore order to the chaos of family life that has come from stress and unhappiness.
Our purpose is to prevent divorce whenever possible. Couples on the Cusp, ambivalent and undecided partners, are taught Stay or Go Techniques that are relevant to their marital situation. Marriage educators discover the importance of honoring their client's ambivalence. A negotiated Controlled Separation contract provides a structure that assists Couples on the Cusp in slowing down and cooling down in order to make a sane decision and have fewer regrets. This practical intervention in working with couples encourages cooperation, as adversaries become advocates. In this way hope is restored and couples are energized and inspired to reclaim their integrity and recommit to each other. In turn, children and families are spared undue trauma.
For more information contact Elsie Radtke at 312-534-8353
Note: All of the above information in the "Troubled Marriages" section was taken from the web site at the Archdiocese of Chicago, www.familyministries.org. There is much more information on marriage at that website as well as information on many other subjects.