Isn't marriage weird? We go through life and end up crossing paths with someone and ask, "Will you be my friend for the rest of our lives?" That's a pretty big question to answer but doesn't seem so hard in the beginning. Let's fast forward a few years, especially around the 7-8 year mark, and you both might be looking at each other going, "WHAT was I thinking!?"
Relationships are complicated and messy but, the good news is, they are also super flexible and forgiving. By that I simply mean that things we may have declared as "deal breakers" before walking down the aisle aren't as cut and dry when you add years of shared life experiences to the mix, along with significant life decisions, memories, family / social bonds and possibly children. Not so easy anymore to quickly say, "I'm done."
I'm sharing all of this to help normalize what you may be experiencing in your own marriage right now. Maybe you feel betrayed, hurt, alone or frustrated and trying so hard to figure out what step to take next... should you stay or should you go? This level of decision making can be downright crazy making and consuming. In fact, I can feel the stress and tension rising up in me simply writing about it!
When people are faced with this kind of heavy decision making, it can feel hopeless because you keep looking at the same person, the same information, feeling the same feelings and left to believe there is no chance for anything different. Our views, thoughts, and even emotions, can begin to feel rigid. One of my goals in working with couples is to help them regain some flexibility in the relationship dynamic. Working together, partners can begin seeing aspects of their spouse that they haven't seen or felt in years... maybe ever. Tension can begin to soften and people can start to feel hopeful.
Even if you've been in marriage counseling before, I encourage you to try again. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an evidence-supported approach to marriage counseling that offers much more than dry, stale "solutions" to old "problems." As a male client just stated this week about previous counseling attempts, "We're not looking for advice on how to argue better." EFT helps couples get to a place where they can see and hear each other... and find connection and partnership again (or possibly for the first time).
Counseling doesn't have to take years, really. The time spent in counseling is not only an investment into the health of your marriage, but likely will end up being a fraction of the amount of time you have spent feeling hurt, alone or angry. Call me anytime with questions or to schedule your first appointment.
Have a wonderful Friday!
Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Knoxville, TN 37931
When you and your partner aren't getting along it's easy to feel like they don't give a flip about what's happening between the two of you in that moment. In the heat of a discussion your partner might glaze over and tune out, they might go into another room or they may even leave the house and go for a drive. So, what the heck? Do they just not care?
One thing to remember in those moments is that something IS happening for your partner during that time. It can be natural for you to end up feeling like you are in the relationship alone, that nothing can be worked out and that, if your partner really cared, they would stay there with you and hash things out. Well... not so fast!
What often happens for partners who shut down is that they simply become overwhelmed. If your husband or wife is the "shut down" type, you might think they are made of ice or that you've married a robot. The reality is, their wheels are turning and things are happening inside that make them feel so uncomfortable they have to try and move away from that discomfort.
These emotional moments can be especially overwhelming for partners who like to "fix." If they see you hurting and they have no idea what to do, or they feel like they're trying to help and nothing seems to be working, then they might assume it would be best if they leave (emotionally / physically) until the dust settles to not "make things worse." Unfortunately, in their attempt to not make things worse, they often leave their partner feeling alone, unloved and unimportant.
In these difficult moments of your relationship, try to remember that there is something happening in your partner and they are not made of stone or ice (even though it can easily feel that way). Your partner likely doesn't have a clue how to put words to what they are experiencing, or would even recognize it as overwhelm, but there is something happening. For the partners wanting to remove themselves anytime things feel heated, try to remember that not everything needs to be "fixed" and sometimes just being present means more than any attempt at a solution. Don't worry about being perfect... just be present!
If you and your partner could use some help navigating these situations, I'd be happy to help. We've all (well, the majority of couples have) been there! The patterns of relationship don't have to leave us feeling confused or alone, but can help us gain understanding and find meaningful connection with each other. No blame or shame necessary, just a little dedicated time and the willingness to learn.
Have a great week!
I am a quote junkie and this one stood out to me today... how true this is! As I read this earlier I thought, "I wonder how many people are standing at the edge of something amazing but keep looking back with feelings of fear, guilt or shame." If that sounds like you, trust me, you are certainly not alone. I have done this myself. We all have chapters of our lives that we find ourselves re-reading at times. Chapters that leave us feeling we are not capable of change or show us all the reasons moving forward will be scary, etc.
I want to remind you today that you have the freedom and option of turning the page! What is re-reading the same material over and over doing for you? Is it to learn from the experience and gain wisdom? Ummmm... I'm guessing probably not. We usually only need to reflect short-term on an experience to gather the information necessary to help us in the future. More than that and we are doing something else... punishing ourselves, justifying our fears, keeping ourselves stuck, blaming others... things that aren't helpful to us and definitely not allowing us to move forward.
Give yourself permission to turn the page!
I'm excited to have launched a beautiful and updated site this past week. I hope you are enjoying it, too! On the downside, I'm still trying to figure out how to transfer all of my archived blog posts from my previous site. I have a lot of good information over the years I hate to not be able to share! :)
Until I can figure this out, please visit my previous blog HERE for articles and information about counseling and supervision.
I appreciate your patience and hope to get this figured out! I will also be working on new content as early as next week and look forward to having that up soon for you as well, so please keep checking back!
If you are interested to learn more about counseling or ready to schedule an appointment, feel welcome to contact me. I'm happy to answer any questions or to let you know of upcoming appointment times I have available.
Enjoy your weekend!
Licensed Professional Counselor
9219 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37931
I am also a contributing mental health writer at