What marriage counseling is not:
Marriage counseling is not a “cure-all” for every problem in a marriage. It cannot satisfy the needs of an individual spouse, it can only help you to better meet your own needs and to understand their impact on the overall dynamics of the marital relationship. It will not make you or someone else happy! There are no simple answers that will solve all problems immediately. Your counselor will work with you to identify solution strategies that are unique to your situation, but there may be many small steps required before you begin seeing progress.
It does seem like things are hopeless if they have been married 15 years or more and still dont know how to communicate, so why bother? The truth is people do learn how to communicate given enough time and motivation. Often, one or both partners have forgotten how to effectively communicate due to years of frustration and anger. Marriage counseling can help identify the issues that are causing the communication breakdown and provide the tools needed to effectively address these problems.
Marriage counseling cannot force someone to change who they are or make them do anything they dont want to do. It is a voluntary process that requires both spouses to be willing participants in order for it to be successful. If only one partner is interested in making changes, then the counseling is likely to be ineffective.
It is also not a substitute for individual therapy or psychiatric care. If there are serious mental health issues that need to be addressed, then marriage counseling should not be used as an alternative. Couples counseling does not take the place of individual therapy or treatment for mental health concerns.
What marriage counseling can do: Marriage counseling will help you to better understand your spouse’s needs, thoughts, and feelings which could ultimately improve communication within the marital relationship. Some of the areas that are often addressed in marriage counseling include communication skills, intimacy issues, emotional support, financial support, childcare challenges, sexual difficulties and infidelity.
Before You Try Marriage Counseling
Individuals considering couples therapy should first make certain they are ready to actively participate in solving their problems. Ask yourself if you are willing to change some behaviors which may have been contributing to the problem(s). Are both partners willing to work on their marriage through counseling to make it stronger?
Marriage Counseling Starts with You!
If you are considering marriage counseling, the first step is to communicate your concerns to your spouse. If they are not interested in improving your relationship or making changes that will help, then getting married counseling is probably not going to be helpful. There must be mutual willingness and motivation for both partners if this process is going to work.
The next step would be to contact a counselor for an initial consultation appointment. At this point you should feel comfortable enough with the therapist’s approach and style of dealing with marital issues so that you can determine if you want them as your personal counselor. Make sure this person has training and experience relevant to the problems you are having in your marriage.
You should also ask about the counselor’s fees, how many sessions you will need, what they hope to accomplish by working with you and how often you can expect to meet with them. You may be asked questions about your marital history, the nature of your problems and if there are any potential risk factors for treatment (e.g., addiction). Once these issues have been addressed you can determine if this is someone who has the qualifications you are looking for in a therapist.
Be Proactive! Talk to Your Spouse!
Once both partners agree that counseling would be beneficial then it is time to seek out a licensed professional who specializes in marriage therapy or relationship counseling. The next step would be to talk to your spouse about making this appointment – don’t just surprise them with the news.
You should both discuss what changes are needed within the marriage, why you think counseling would be beneficial for these reasons, and voice any concerns you have about the potential experience. You may also want to talk to your insurance company to ask if they cover family or couples therapy sessions which could save you money in the long run.
How Does Marriage Counseling Work?
After choosing a therapist who meets both of your needs, an initial interview/consultation appointment is scheduled with each partner individually so that the counselor can get an idea of your issues and concerns. This individual session usually lasts between 30-90 minutes depending on how many problems exist in the relationship.
This is also the time when you will be asked about your history, family of origin issues, how you interact with each other and why these problems exist in your marital relationship. It may feel like this appointment is very thorough (and it probably is) but it helps the counselor learn more about you so that they can prescribe appropriate treatment plans.
When both spouses agree to get marriage counseling, they are usually looking for help resolving their problems or identifying ways to make positive changes within the marital relationship. The goal would be to build mutual respect, trust and an appreciation for the positive qualities that were found in each partner when they first fell in love – not just focusing on all of their shortcomings! Couples therapy often explores in-depth the following areas:
One of the most common areas that couples seek help with is communication. This includes how you listen to each other, express your thoughts and feelings, as well as conflict resolution. Counselors work with couples to improve their ability to effectively communicate with one another by using different techniques like active listening, expressing empathy and reducing defensiveness.
Couples counseling can also help improve your ability to solve problems together. This includes identifying potential solutions, assessing the risks/benefits associated with each option and making a decision that you can both live with. Most disagreements within a marriage are due to differing opinions on how best to solve a problem so learning how to negotiate on different topics is paramount.
Many couples struggle with intimacy in some form or another, whether it is physical or emotional. Counseling can help improve the way that you show affection towards your spouse by being more attentive to their needs and how they feel about themselves. It also includes helping each partner manage feelings of insecurity so they don’t raise the stakes during conflicts with one another.
Help for Specific Problems
If there are specific difficulties within your marriage such as infidelity, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction or financial problems then you should discuss these issues directly with your counselor (and perhaps the spouse) to see what advice they offer for working through this problem. Your therapist can also prescribe homework exercises for you to practice between sessions so you can see noticeable improvement right away.
Couples counseling is potentially successful for any couple willing to put the effort into resolving their marital problems, but it isn’t effective if one spouse simply refuses to attend the sessions. This defeats the entire purpose of why they were seeking help in the first place and your marriage counselor will likely tell you that they cannot help you solve these issues single-handedly. If one or both of you are not ready to make positive changes within your relationship then this type of therapy probably won’t be effective because you are not willingly participating.
Asking couples what they like most about marriage counseling – don’t just surprise them with the news. You should discuss what changes are needed within the relationship so it can become a reality. For example, you could say “I really think we should continue marriage counseling because I feel like it’s going well and our counselor has helped us a lot.” By having them prepare ahead of time that this is a scheduled appointment then they will likely be more open to talking about these issues with you.
This type of therapy may not be effective for couples looking for help with less serious relationship problems such as dealing with annoyances from the past or coping with daily stressors. Your marriage counselor may suggest attending individual therapy first if your marital problems stem from childhood experiences, unresolved feelings about family members or mental health issues because he/she does not have the required training in private practice to treat these types of concerns. It is also not effective if you are attending therapy primarily to save your marriage rather than help yourselves as individuals.
“We are getting closer” “It’s tough right now, but I know it will get better.” “I love you very much and I want us to be happy again.” She/he needs to say something that shows they are committed to making the relationship work.
This type of therapy does not actually ‘repair’ a broken marriage where there is no longer any commitment between both partners. It could be argued that by participating in counseling then you can prevent this from happening in the future because you have learned how to identify the problem areas within your relationship and take steps towards resolving them before they become more serious and intractable (which can happen if left to fester for years).
If you are not ready to make any changes to your marriage then it is best that you do not attend marriage counseling. Counseling is only effective when both partners are willing to participate in the process, especially during group sessions where each spouse must be open and honest about their feelings with one another. If you know that there are issues within your relationship that need addressing but you refuse to work through them then this type of therapy will not resolve anything because it requires teamwork between both participants.
Some couples feel satisfied if their therapist gives them advice on how they should handle their problems at home instead of letting them figure it out themselves. This defeats the entire purpose behind attending therapy – if they simply wanted someone to tell them what to do then they would have consulted with friends or family members for similar advice. A marriage counselor should never take the place of a friend or family member and should only be used as a resource to help you work through your marital problems.
If you’re looking into marriage counseling, it’s likely because you or your spouse is feeling unhappy in the relationship. If this is the case, then it’s important that you are both ready and willing to make changes because counseling will not fix things on its own – it takes effort from both parties involved. Marriage counseling can be effective if both partners are willing to put in the hard work required to make positive changes within the relationship, but it is not an instant solution and there is no guarantee that everything will be perfect by the end of your appointments.
He/She should not push their personal beliefs about other issues onto you as a couple – especially if they are not related to your marital problems. For example, it would be out-of-line for them to make judgements about how you discipline your children or manage your money because those are issues best left up to you and no one else. You should also ask them what types of clients they typically see and how soon he/she is willing to schedule future appointments with you if the first few sessions go well.
When attending marriage counseling , always remember that this is an opportunity for both spouses to express their feelings towards one another without fear of judgement or condemnation. Ideally, your therapist should provide a safe and non-judgemental space for both of you to share your thoughts and feelings openly so that you can start to identify the areas within your marriage that need improvement. He/She should also be someone who is impartial and will not take sides during any heated arguments.
Marriage counseling is a type of therapy that helps couples resolve their differences and improve their relationship. It is not recommended if you are only seeking help for individual issues such as depression or anxiety, as those will likely still persist even after marital counseling has ended.
It’s important to keep in mind that marriage counseling is not a quick fix – it takes time and effort from both partners to see results. If you’re only going because you feel obligated to or because your spouse wants to go, then it’s likely that you will not get the most out of the experience. Both partners need to be open and willing to work together in order for counseling to be successful.
Your therapist should not be pushy or aggressive, and he/she should never force their personal beliefs onto you as a couple. You should also ask them about their experience with marriage counseling and how many couples they have successfully helped in the past. If you feel like your therapist is not a good fit for you then do not be afraid to speak up and find someone else who can provide the support you need.
Remember that marriage counseling is a collaborative effort between both spouses, so if one partner is not interested or unwilling to participate, then the therapy is likely to fail. If this is the case, then it may be time to reconsider your relationship and decide if it’s worth trying to save.
It’s important to remember that marriage counseling is not a quick fix and it takes time, effort from both partners, and lots of hard work. If you’re only going because you feel obligated or because your spouse wants to go then it’s likely the sessions will not be effective or helpful for either party. You should also look into finding someone who has experience in dealing with your specific type of relationship because every situation is different.
The goal of marriage counseling is to help couples resolve their differences and come up with methods to improve their relationship over time. It is not recommended if you are seeking help solely for individual issues such as depression or anxiety – those problems will still exist even after the couples counseling has completed.
Marriage counselors should never push their personal beliefs on you and should be impartial in your sessions. You should also find out their experience with couples counseling and how many successful cases they have helped in the past. If you feel like your counselor is not a good fit for you, then speak up and find someone else who can help support you in this endeavor.
Marriage counseling is only effective when both spouses are open to change and willing to work together. If one partner is not interested or unwilling to participate, then it will likely fail to accomplish anything helpful for either person involved. Remember that marriage counseling takes time, effort from both partners, lots of hard work, commitment, and patience – if you want success then make sure both of these things are present during all aspects of treatment.