Updated: Jan 4
The UN Women’s Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020 report states only 1.1 per cent of Indian women aged 45-49 were divorced by 2010. In fact, India’s divorce rate is one of the lowest in the world. However, lower divorce rates do not equal happy marriages.
In many cases, even if partners fall out of love, they stay together because of societal pressure, financial dependence, and their children’s future. Moreover, divorce is a taboo topic in India and the social ostracisation of being a divorcee or a single parent glues people to stay in failed marriages.
It is true that in some situations such as domestic violence, and emotional and verbal abuse, divorce can bring peace to their life. However, if you notice some of the below-mentioned issues, couples therapy can be beneficial before giving up on your marriage.
Your partner’s mental health is affecting the relationship
Dullness, loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, low energy, sadness, hopelessness, change in sleeping patterns, irritable mood, etc. are some of the signs of depression. While one partner might feel that their significant other has changed, it may be just the case that they are dealing with a personal battle.
Pressuring them to open up can make the situation worse. So, giving them the space and time to share what they’re feeling is important. Also, be calm and mindful not to jump to any conclusions like “my partner doesn’t love me anymore” or “my marriage has reached a dead end” while you’re providing the space for them.
Couples Counselling or Break-Up?
It is advisable not to give any personal advice as you might not have adequate knowledge of mental illnesses. In such situations, therapy can be useful as the therapist will provide the right tools and techniques to help the person and also equip the caregiver with tools on how to deal with their spouse and other self-care practices.
Forcing a partner to attend therapy can come across wrongly despite all the goodwill. Instead of forcing your partner, try visiting a therapist for yourself first, process what you’re feeling and then understand how you can help your partner without being forceful.
Remember that before taking couples therapy, it is essential to get your partners’ consent and therapy shouldn't be sought against their will. Therapy should be seen as a means to better the situation and shouldn’t be used to highlight a problem in someone.
Hence, the partners need to be on the same page before attending a session.
At ManoShala, we offer 1-on-1 counselling for various mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, etc. We also offer art-based therapeutic group wellness sessions using music, body movement, arts and drama to cope with various mental health conditions.
Also Read: Understanding the impact of music therapy
You fight too much!
“Self-understanding is crucial for understanding another person; self-love is crucial for loving others. When you’ve understood your suffering, you suffer less, and you are capable of understanding another person’s suffering much more easily” - Thich Nhat Hanh”
A healthy amount of fight could be an indication that you care enough about the relationship. However, frequent arguments over trivial matters, shouting, yelling, name-calling, and throwing things could result from built-up anger and frustration, criticism, excessive blaming, defensiveness, etc.
By understanding that communication is the root cause, partners can learn to better communicate to understand each others’ perspectives. By taking couples therapy or counselling for married couples/newly married couples, partners can learn how to communicate and listen actively such that they can cope with challenges successfully.
Destructive fighting is impacting your child!
Constant fighting in front of the children can be damaging to the child. An article from Greater Good magazine highlights that continuous fighting can make children anxious, worried and stressed. It can also make them aggressive, making them act out in school and can also cause difficulty in forming healthy relationships with peers. They may also experience frequent headaches, stomach pain, sleep disturbances and frequently fall ill.
According to a 20-year-old study on parental conflict and children’s stress, conducted in the village of Dominica island in the Caribbean, anthropologists Mark Flinn and Barry England concluded that children of parents who fought a lot reported higher levels of cortisol than children from peaceful and affectionate families.
E. Mark Cummings, a psychologist at Notre Dame University says that fighting is part and parcel of life. It is how the fight is expressed and resolved in the end that determines the impact on children.
Constant fighting can make your children feel that home is not a safe space. They might stop expressing their feelings and later grow into emotionally neglected adults. Hence, it is important to model healthy ways of communication and conflict resolution when they’re young.
If you notice your child behaving in the above-mentioned ways or expressing physical symptoms, it is crucial to take a step back and understand your fight through their lens and how it impacts their well-being.
Silence is all there is!
When couples fight so much, they then reach a point where they feel a lack of need for even basic communication. This is a clear indication that the relationship is not in the right direction. It can be due to several reasons:
They may stop talking when they feel that their significant other thinks through one lens and doesn’t emphasise or one partner feels unheard during a conversation
A lack of common interests and activities has made them live in their separate worlds
Staying busy with work and deadlines, preoccupation with work, etc. have created a gap in communication
Unresolved issues from the past
Unwillingness to talk about difficult subjects
Understanding why you’ve stopped communicating is the first step towards making the relationship better. Now, do you think, Is couples counselling worth it? Counselling can help you understand the deep issues and help to reignite the lost connection.
You’re not growing in the relationship
Your intellectual, spiritual, emotional and materialistic needs are no longer in sync. Maybe your partner is burning the midnight oil to get a huge promotion and buy a Mercedes while you want to downsize your house and live a simpler life. It can be difficult to grow together when your needs and purpose are different.
Although you started the relationship on the same note, one partner may have outgrown the other and have vast ideological differences. By not having quality discussions, the gap is set to widen over time.
It is important to pause and ask yourself: Am I feeling stuck in this relationship?
Therapy can be useful to bring couples on the same page helping them unravel their needs and aspirations and move past the stagnation stage.
We at ManoShala offer relationship counselling to help with intimacy-related problems, understanding and communication issues, emotional abuse, online couples counselling etc.
It can be uncomfortable to share intimate and personal details about your relationship with a psychologist or a therapist. But remember that they’re non-judgemental professionals who can help you by viewing things from a third-person perspective. They can help you develop compassionate listening skills and deeper communication skills required to grow in a relationship. Divorce is the solution in some cases, however, it need not be the solution always. With the help of couples counselling activities and through the effort of the couple, the right tools and therapy, you can live a happy and harmonious life.
Written by Padmapriyadarshini