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Overturning the Effects of Marital Overwhelm with Counseling

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Overturning the Effects of Marital Overwhelm with Counseling


Marriage is a wonderful life event, an awesome and fulfilling experience. It does not mean; however, it is free from pressures, worries, fears and challenges. In the chaos that is life, it can be stressful at times. Life with your spouse can be bogged down with conflicts, problems and trials, both in and beyond your control.

Whether the pressures are family, job or socially-related issues, they can be overwhelming enough to affect your physical and emotional health, as well as your relationships. Without healthy emotional nutrition, your marriage may experience a multitude of issues, specifically in areas that bring the most distress. Among the important areas of concern are finance, intimacy and family.

Unfortunately, many couples have no clue how to address the emotional crisis that is gradually causing the accumulation of frustration, hurt, and unrest in their marriage. A marriage in a state of emotional overwhelm is characterized by the difficulty to face stressful situations, traumatic life experiences, and most especially, relationship issues. Although triggers are mostly negative, it is not unusual for positive life events to cause couples or a spouse to be emotionally overwhelmed.


Potential Causes of Marital Overwhelm

Some marriages can experience a state of emotional overwhelm at some point in time. This happens when challenges occur in multiple and rapid succession. If a couple or a spouse has inadequate stress management skill or low level of support, it is not surprising for them to be overwhelmed by emotions.

The causes of emotional overwhelm in marriage vary. It can also manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the couple’s resilience, current issues, and the ability to work through life events. Although any single issue may cause an overload of emotions, the condition is usually precipitated by multiple stressors and conflicting emotions happening all at the same time. Common causes may include


  • Relationship problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Death in the family
  • Life transitions, such as relocation or birth of a new baby
  • Domestic abuse
  • Career demands
  • Overload of household works
  • Poor sleep and diet


A spouse who is experiencing emotional overwhelm may exhibit significant behavioral changes as an indication of emotional flooding. It is a sign that the brain is wrapped up in intense emotions, then it becomes difficult for the person to organize thoughts or respond to life situations with common sense, clarity and decisiveness. 


A Marriage Overwhelmed by Challenges

Apart from the physical manifestations, such as irritability, extreme sadness, bursts of anger, and anxiety symptoms, there are noticeable signs that emotions are getting intense in a marriage.


  • Significant change in mood – Stress in marriage can affect adrenaline and cortisol, repressing the hormones needed to get an individual in the mood. The burnt-out feeling causing you to be too exhausted to be in the mood to be affable to anybody, much less with your significant other.


  • Venting the steam on each other – When marital troubles become overwhelming, couples take the stress out on each other as an outlet to express their negative feelings. The overly stressed spouse tends to pick fights and be overly critical over petty matters.


  • A decline in communication – The ability to practice positive communication weakens when feeling chronically stressed or overwhelmed. Stress impairs cognition, judgment and listening skills, promoting negative thinking in a relationship. The absence of expressions and gestures of love may leave couples disconnected and out of sync with each other.


  • Withdrawal by one of the partners – A partner may show signs of depression as an indication that feelings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness and helplessness permeate in the relationship. A spouse who is emotionally unavailable and has no sympathetic attention to his or her partner may have lost enthusiasm and optimism about the relationship.


  • Feeling of anxiety – To be emotionally overwhelmed in marriage can result in your becoming excessively worried, short-tempered, edgy, and irritable. You can see the telltale signs of doom in your marriage yet all you do is argue with your spouse. Anxiety does not only place a strain on your health and relationship, but it can also consume your spouse as he or she feels that your relationship is cracking under the pressure.


  • Loss of satisfaction in almost anything – An unfortunate side effect of being emotionally overwhelmed is the lack or loss of satisfaction in seemingly good things life offers – including your marriage. The feeling compels you to fixate and project, which in effect, can cause you to unconsciously sabotage your own marriage with criticisms and hurtful remarks. The loss of satisfaction means losing one of the key components to a successful married life.


  • Engagement in other activities outside the marriage – A partner investing more attention and energy in other interests that do involve the other partner may lead to the latter feeling neglected and betrayed. This includes becoming emotionally and intimately involved with another person.


Overwhelm can happen to you or your spouse, or to your marriage. When it does, you may find it almost impossible to differentiate thoughts or beliefs from reality. It may be difficult to act rationally and function while under the stress of emotional overwhelm. This state causes it to be very challenging to meet your own personal needs, not to mention your spouse and children’s needs.

When experiencing the symptoms, it may be difficult to verbalize the exact origins of feeling overwhelm because it is often a complicated result of multiple stressful events and emotions. This can sometimes breed misunderstanding and may lead the other spouse to think of it as just an overreaction. With this line of thinking, the support of one person whom you expect to be there during this time is not available. It may be beneficial to seek marriage/couples counseling to sort through the difficult emotions, especially those that negatively affect your relationship.


Transforming Overwhelm into Harmony and Safety

It is possible for even good marriages to sometimes experience an emotional crisis. After all, there is the family, finances, career, and other factors all competing for attention. The strain of emotional overwhelm may weigh down your marriage. The stress and conflict cause by the most common issues that distress a marriage can hinder your effort to make your home a place of peace and harmony. Instead, the cycle of scorn, criticism, anger, and other negative feelings is turning your domicile into a battlefield of confusing thoughts that exacerbate your emotional crisis.

Do not ignore the signs and allow overwhelm to take over your relationship. Even when swamped with stressors, you still have the power to turn your marriage and home into a sanctuary where harmony and safety dwell. You can fight back! When one or both of you is struggling with emotional overwhelm, do not be afraid to enlist the help of a professional. With counseling, it is possible to rebuild and reinforce your emotional connection sabotaged by your emotional crisis.

Take advantage of the help offered by an experienced counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC. Resolving marital issues and unsettling emotional conditions such as overwhelm are one of the 9 good reasons to seek counseling now. In the hands of the right fit therapist independently contracted with CCS, your marriage can bounce back on track to happier times. Call now to schedule your first session!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC
Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bowmore NC, Autryville NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Pineview NC, Rex NC, Lemon Springs NC, Johnsonville NC, Eastover NC, Stedman NC and Wade, NC
Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

Counseling Information

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Fayetteville, NC