For most people, the idea of happily ever starts with being swept off your feet by your soulmate. Let’s face it, we all expect marital bliss to be something like a fairytale, or one of those cute romantic comedies.

The truth is somewhat different. There is a big difference between dating someone and actually living with them, especially over the long term. Marriages require work and commitment – you need to learn to cope with these differences and find ways to keep relating to each other.

Most couples, however, don’t realize this going in and so start their relationships ill-prepared. This is a serious issue and could lead to a complete breakdown in the relationship.

Seeking professional advice from Dr. Leslie Zebel can teach you ways to get the relationship back on track. In this article, we’ll look at the signs that might indicate that you need to get help.

You Aren’t Communicating with One Another

This is not just a case of one partner giving the other the silent treatment. Maybe you talk about practical issues like getting the kids to school or who’s going to pick up the dry cleaning. What we are talking about here is a breakdown in communication at a deeper level.

Does your partner know how you feel and what issues you have? Do you know how they are feeling and what issues they have? A breakdown in communication is a serious issue and one that can be difficult to recover from without the aid of a professional.

Negative Communication

In this instance, the two of you are talking to one another at a deeper level but the talk is always negative. It’s when one person in the relationship is making the other feel disregarded, judged or even ashamed. The partner on the receiving end often feels insecure and as if they need to escape.

This is communicated in several ways – the language used, the tone of voice used and even the body language used. Negative communication is a serious problem because, if it escalates, it can amount to emotional abuse.

You are Scared to Talk to Each Other

Maybe every time the two of you talk, it escalates into a fight – even when it comes to mundane issues like not closing the lid of the toothpaste. Generally speaking, this is an indication that there are deeper issues at play. A therapist will help both of you to uncover these issues and deal with them.

One Partner is Withholding Affection to Punish the Other

This is a clear sign that the power balance in the relationship is not equal. This happens in instances where one partner refuses to give affection because of a perceived slight. If one partner is taking on the role of “judge” or “parent” in the relationship, the dynamics are off.

When You View Your Partner as an Enemy

If it feels as though you and your partner are on opposite sides all the time, you need to get help. A healthy relationship means that you see yourselves as a team, not enemies.

Keeping Secrets

A healthy relationship means not having to keep secrets from one another. Whilst privacy is important in a relationship, you shouldn’t feel the need to keep things from one another.

Affairs

If one or the other of you is either thinking about cheating, you need to get professional help. Having fantasies about another person is an indication that you want something different in your life. It is better to get help dealing with this issue before it proceeds into a full-blown affair.

If one of you has already had an affair, there are definitely going to be trust issues that come up in future. You and your partner would need to commit to therapy and working on the relationship. Sometimes the marriage can be saved but, if it cannot, the therapist will help you realize when it is healthier to call it quits.

Financial Infidelity

This can again be a sign that the power balance in the relationship is out of whack. Financial issues can be as serious when it comes to the breakdown of a relationship as affairs can be. Signs to look out for are when one spouse controls all aspects related to finances, without letting the other have any input, or where one spouse hides their spending from the other.

It is reasonable to deal with family finances together and you can broach the topic by saying that you want to understand the family budget better. If your spouse is not willing to share this information, you need to get a professional to assist so that you can work on this issue.

Your Partner Needs to Change

There’s a joke that says, “The only time you can change a man is when you change his diaper.” This is just as true for women as it is for men. If you think that everything would be fine if only your partner would change, you need to seek help.

A person only changes when they want to, you can’t force them to. You only have control over the changes you make to yourself. And it might not only your partner that needs to change.

You need to go to therapy to work out more about yourself, like who you are and what it is that you want in life. If things still don’t improve after that, then couple’s therapy is a good idea.

You Live Separate Lives

If you and your partner act more like roommates, you may need therapy. Healthy couples don’t need to do everything together but they should be doing some things together. They need to foster intimacy, communicate and actually talk to each other.

Big Changes in Your Sex Life

When a couple has been together for a while, it is normal to see a reduction in the amount of sex. If there is a significant change, however, it could be a sign that help is needed. And an excessive increase in the amount of sex can also be an indication that things are not right. It could mean that one partner is trying to make amends for something else that they feel is wrong.

The Same Arguments All the Time

Each person has their own triggers. These are behaviors that most people wouldn’t think twice about but that drive them nuts. Remember the example we used earlier about the toothpaste lid? If the two of you seem to be fighting about the same things time after time, it is an indication that you need help.

The one partner may not understand what the issue is all about and may not understand what they are able to do to change things. A marriage counsellor will give both parties an unbiased sounding board and help them work out these frustrations.

Continuous Issues in the Relationship

No relationship is going to be smooth sailing all the way – there are going to be stumbling blocks. Sometimes these are easily resolved but, at other times, they are not. There should, however, be good times as well.

When these relationship issues become a feature in the relationship, rather than an exception, you need to start looking at getting professional help. All issues can be worked through as long as both parties are committed to finding an equitable solution and compromise if necessary.

Admitting that your marriage might need help can be embarrassing, but the sooner you seek help, the faster the issues can be resolved and the damage contained. Asking for help could enable you to achieve that fairytale ending.