Counseling Corner: How to tell when a marriage is in trouble

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Divorce is a fairly common reality in the U.S. While the most-often cited statistic is that 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce, current estimates are that the number is actually in the range of 42 to 45.

Thatís still a very large number of divorces and itís a figure that is growing even higher among those aged 55 to 64 where divorce rates have quadrupled over the past three decades.

One would think that itís fairly easy to spot when a marriage is in trouble, but, in fact, marriage problems often tend to grow slowly over time rather than suddenly seeming to burst out of nowhere. Itís important to be aware of the potential problems facing any marriage, since early intervention and the seeking of assistance can often help avoid divorce as a final outcome.

While there will always be small trouble spots and disagreements in even the best of relationships, itís when the disagreements become almost constant that there are real problems underlying the marriage.

One sign that serious troubles are brewing is when one partner feels he or she is giving more than is being received over an extended period of time. It can be a job, outside family, the children or any of numerous other issues that has one partner feeling he or she is unfairly carrying the bulk of the load.

When a couple is experiencing severe disagreements that are happening frequently and are coupled with an unwillingness or inability to resolve those disagreements, thereís a good chance that permanent damage is being done to the relationship.

Such problems are usually a sign that outside help, in the form of a professional counselor, is needed. While seeking assistance for marital problems doesnít mean that every marriage will be saved, it does increase the chances of working out solutions. And in some cases that solution might mean the couple is better off being apart.

A counseling profession can facilitate communication between the couple, help them see the reality of their situation and offer techniques to help in resolving the problems being faced.

Your family clergy may be trained in marriage counseling, or you can consult a counseling professional specializing in relationship and marriage counseling. The American Counseling Association website at www.counseling.org can help in locating a counselor in your area experienced in these fields.

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