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Often, couples enter counseling when marriages are on the brink and it becomes clear that one or both partners need individual counseling before the couples work can be successful.
This last case is an obvious example where individual therapy would be essential at the start.
As a clinical psychologist and certified addictions counselor, I see husbands, wives, and partners in individual or couples therapy on a daily basis grappling with the decision to leave or divorce their spouse or partner.
Therapists have long referred to the three “A’s” of divorce as legitimate reasons to consider ending a relationship when the behavior of one’s partner is clearly destructive, abusive, or there is no reason to believe it will improve.
She was able to work on what led her to stray from her husband and to articulate the ways in which she felt she was not getting her needs met at home and in their relationship, and they were able to make changes in order to save their marriage.
Another case of forgiving a violation of the three “A’s” involved a couple in which the man was physically abusive.
Psychologists have suggested that the top three reasons for divorce are abuse, addiction, and affairs.
Researchers have long reported that financial problems are the top area of conflict for most couples, and that communication is the second most-cited reason for marital discord.
When a husband, wife, or partner adequately addresses his or her drug and alcohol issues or other addictive issues, such as shopping addiction, gambling, or love or sex addiction, a couple can recover from the hurt, shame, and consequences of the addictive behaviors.
These are not decisions that should be made in a vacuum—or alone.
As the social creatures and pack animals that we are, we have evolved over time to need and rely on social supports to better understand ourselves and the situations in which we find ourselves.
Seeking help and support is a necessary, if not sufficient, first step in making the right decision for ourselves when coping with addiction, affairs, or abuse. While keeping safety in mind first and foremost, any one instance of the three “A’s” may be something that couples can bounce back from if they receive enough help and support.
One person with whom I worked found that she began to have feelings for a man she met online who was living in another state.
While these are considered abusive behaviors in most states and punishable by law, the couple was able to learn about the definition of abuse—physical, sexual, and emotional—and the man fully engaged in individual and group counseling.