When it's time for outside advice for your marital troubles who should you turn to?
You've pretended that the problems weren't there. You've thought and thought about the troubles in your marriage searching for a solution. You've talked and maybe even argued with your partner about this challenge you face.
Maybe you two have stopped talking about your marital problem because it feels too big and impossible to deal with.
You might be wondering if it's time to get an outsider's opinion.
It can truly be transformative to be offered a different perspective of a conflict or difficult situation. The one who is not entrenched-- as you and your spouse are-- can usually see possible solutions that neither of you were aware of or considered doable.
A few signs that a second opinion might be helpful are...
-- Communication has broken down. The problem has become something you two incessantly argue about or it is the “elephant in the room.”
-- You feel like you've tried everything with no positive changes. Your problem may even seem like it's grown and become worse.
-- The conflict or issue feels like it's beyond your ability to fix. You feel helpless and frustrated.
-- There has been violence or abuse (from either or both of you).*
Getting a second opinion can be the key you and your partner need to start to turn around a bad situation that might even lead to divorce.
Unfortunately, getting a second opinion might get you further stuck and in conflict.
The first person that many of us turn to when we want advice is a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker. It's only natural to confide in someone we trust and know well.
To even admit to a marital problem can feel embarrassing or vulnerable. It certainly takes courage to open up and ask someone for advice or help about a problem. It is understandable that the one you might choose to trust and turn to is someone close to you.
While your friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker might be a very wise and experienced person, relying solely or primarily upon his or her advice could be your biggest mistake. This person whom you are close to could have your best interests at heart, yet the advice might keep you embroiled in conflict with your partner.
Especially if your confidante has had a similar challenge in his or her relationship, the perspective you receive may be skewed. In a case like this, the advice you receive may be accurate for what your friend went through, but it might not be accurate for your situation.
Because this person is close to you, it's probable that he or she will be more biased toward your “side” in the conflict. This means that you could hear some of the angry, righteous thoughts you've been having coming from the mouth of your family member. The negativity only gets reinforced.
Again, we don't doubt that your friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker has valuable insights and cares a lot about you. We encourage you to keep in mind the biases that come with advice you get from someone you are close to, however.
We also encourage you to turn to those close to you for support and love. Don't shut them out or pretend that everything is okay when it's not.
This is different from relying on them for advice. Be specific about what kind of soothing or support you'd like to receive right now and ask for that. It might be a hug, someone to just listen to you, spend time with or help you complete certain tasks.
What are your alternatives?
If you've decided that it's time to get a second opinion about your marital troubles, look at all of your options. There are many counselors, therapists, psychologists, coaches, mediators and social workers who are possibly available to you.
Consider not only your financial situation and whether or not your health insurance will cover costs for services, but also be sure to get some idea of who you'll be working with.
Make sure you choose a professional who specializes in relationships or the specific issue that is going on in your marriage. Also, look for someone who approaches marriage and relationships in a way that resonates with you.
Be willing to interview or talk with the professional in advance and to research him or her online. Ask friends and family members if they have recommendations for a professional they may have been helped by in the past.
Even if your spouse refuses to join you in coaching or therapy sessions, this can still save your marriage. A professional can help you open up to new ways to view the challenges and can also teach you new strategies and skills.
Getting a second opinion and finding advice that is truly helpful can mean the difference between continued conflict or re-connection and love.
*If there is violence or abuse in your relationship, this is your wake up call to make some changes and soon. Get to a safe space if you are being emotionally, physically or sexually abused. Whether or not you stay married, please consider seeking help from a professional.
To find out more about Susie and Otto Collins' Relationship Breakthrough Coaching services, visit: http://www.passionateheart.com/coaching.htm