Is It Time To Seek Relationship Therapy? What To Do In A Relationship When You’re Not Happy
By: Marie Miguel
Updated August 27, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Traci Ball, LLC
Don't you wish romantic relationships came with a user guide? As much as we wish they would, intimate relationships don't come with a manual that teaches you how to behave in relationships or how to communicate with your spouse.
Much like other important adult milestones, entering a committed relationship can often leave you feeling confused and unsure of what to do next. Many people erroneously believe that relationships should always be fun and exciting and have never considered asking themselves what to do in a relationship when they're not happy.
When we enter into intimate relationships, many of us tend to overlook the inevitable reality that one day, there will be a disagreement or argument with our spouse. This simple fact of human nature makes the question of what to do in a relationship when you're not happy completely unavoidable.
Smart individuals and couples who are serious about keeping (or saving) their relationships understand that periodic dissatisfaction is just another natural part of a healthy relationship. They plan by preparing steps to take when their relationship hits an inevitable fork in the road.
In this article, we answer the question of what to do in a relationship when you're not happy. The answers are essential when helping today's couples develop better coping skills and strategies.
Stay True to Yourself
The most important thing that you can do for yourself, your partner, and the future of your relationship is to be honest about what you're feeling. It's normal to be dissatisfied with our partners, our circumstances, and even at times ourselves. The key to getting past these inevitable life challenges is practicing honesty when issues come up.
Being honest with yourself about your current state of internal affairs gives you a much clearer perspective on what's going on with you as an individual. Having a clear perspective of what's happening around you is the first step on the road to resolution. You can see the bigger picture of how your actions have been affecting your relationship. When you're honest with yourself, you can step back and examine what is bothering you and trust yourself to answer honestly.
Staying true to yourself gives you the mental clarity and freedom to remain honest with your partner when the conversations or the dreaded talk about the relationship takes place. Being honest is not the same thing as being rude.
Being honest is not a license to say whatever you think and feel regarding your partner. Always use discretion and speak with your partner with the utmost respect. Be clear about what's going on with your current mindset. If you're confused, convey that to your partner. Then, give yourself the time and space to sort out your confusion. Do the same for your partner.
Be Honest With Your Partner
After you've developed inner mental clarity by being honest with yourself about your desires, goals, expectations, and concerns, the next step is to share that honesty with your partner. This is the step where many couples get it wrong. They think it may be better to spare their partner's feelings and keep the real issues to themselves. This is incorrect. To solve the problem, you must clearly "see" the problem.
Remember, it's not what you say, but how you say it. As long as you're honest about what you're feeling and are considerate of the delivery, you can freely express your emotions to your partner.
This is where real sharing comes in. If you feel afraid to express yourself or share with your partner in this way, this is likely a sign of another underlying issue. Other things that can hamper honesty are trust issues developed as a result of childhood abuse and neglect. The same is true for those issues experienced in a previous adult relationship.
You may also find yourself feeling fearful at this time. This is also a normal reaction. If you find yourself being fearful of sharing your honest thoughts and feelings with your partner, this is a sign that you don't trust your partner, or you don't trust yourself.
Couples who have developed mutual respect in their relationships will be open to hearing what each other has to say. If this isn't the case in your relationship with your partner, this is another factor to consider. Whatever the case happens to be, you should be realizing by now that your initial relationship concerns just got a little bit deeper.
Discuss (Real) Options for Resolving Your Relationship Issues
Now that you've been honest with yourself and realize that your issues may run a lot deeper than you initially thought, the next step is to figure out how you're going to resolve these newly discovered obstacles. Based on your thoughts about the situation at hand and conversations with your partner, you should have an idea in your mind of how you want to proceed.
Begin by asking yourself and your partner if the original goals that you had when establishing the relationship are still the same. For example, have your views changed on dating, family, marriage, and children since you started the relationship? This is a natural part of the process of human growth and development. It's okay if things have changed since your relationship started, that's called life.
There are a few options for proceeding at this point. Keep in mind that doing nothing is also a choice. The first option is to do just that - nothing. Let the progression of the relationship continue naturally, even though your mind and body are screaming for resolution.
The next option is to seek individual counseling or therapy to learn new ways of thinking, communicating, and coping based on the experiences that you've had in this relationship and the positive and negative experiences that have shaped you into the person that you are today.
The last option is to pursue couples counseling or therapy together and commit to resolving the underlying issues of your intimate relationship. This is another important point that couples in crisis often miss. Marriage counseling, couples therapy, and individual counseling are not the final answer.
These services are in place to help you gain clarity on your situation and to provide you with coping skills to help you keep your life from going completely off the rails. To improve yourself, your relationship, or your circumstances, you must be committed to doing the work. When it comes to doing the work in marriage and relationship counseling, this means sticking it out with your partner through thick and thin.
Talk To a Relationship Therapist
A relationship therapist can answer many pressing questions like what to do when you're bored or what to do in a relationship when schedules change resulting in less quality time to spend together. Relationship therapists help couples and partners establish clear goals for the relationship and to facilitate healthier communication styles in both partners.
Learn new coping and communication skills that help improve the quality of communication in your relationship. Many times, the biggest challenge is understanding that both partners need to be heard. We all bring different communication styles to our relationships that are largely based on how we were taught to communicate as children. Couples who don't have the same communication styles may have a hard time hearing each other, which complicates the relationship.
A relationship therapist or counselor acts as a neutral third-party to help you and your partner hear what the other is saying. Both partners have an equal opportunity to express their concerns and address issues that they feel have been harming the relationship.
Confidential therapy sessions allow both you and your partner to ask the hard questions that you want to know the answers to.
Next Steps & Moving Forward
Now that you have a better idea of what to do in a relationship when you're not happy, you should feel more confident when deciding to take the next steps in your intimate relationships. You've objectively considered all the facts and have honestly addressed the pertinent issues with your partner. What are the next steps?
If you're ready to enlist the services of a licensed counselor or therapist, congratulations! The relationship counselors at BetterHelp.com are available online to help you overcome your relationship challenges and improve the quality of your life. Contact a BetterHelp.com counselor to get started with relationship coaching or affordable marriage counseling online today.