Why seek couple counseling?
Couple counseling can help couples in all types of intimate relationships heterosexual or homosexual, married or not. Some couples seek couple counseling to strengthen their bonds and gain a better understanding of each other after marriage. Couple counseling can also help couples who plan to get married. This pre-marriage counseling can help couples achieve a deeper understanding of each other and iron out differences before marriage.
Couple counseling helps couples learn and implement tools such as Negotiating, validating and listening skills. These skills are CRUCIAL to the success of any relationship.
You can use couple counseling to address many specific issues, including:
• Communication problems
• Sexual difficulties
• Conflicts about child rearing or blended families
• Substance abuse
• Financial problems
Couple counseling might also be helpful in cases of domestic abuse. If violence has escalated to the point that you’re afraid, however, counseling alone isn’t adequate. Contact the police or a local shelter or crisis center for emergency support.
What you can expect
Marriage counseling typically brings couples or partners together for joint therapy sessions. Working with a therapist, you’ll learn skills to solidify your relationship. These skills might include communicating openly, solving problems together and discussing differences rationally. You’ll analyze both the good and bad parts of your relationship as you pinpoint and better understand the sources of your conflicts.
Talking about your problems with a marriage counselor might not be easy. Sessions might pass in silence as you and your partner seethe over perceived wrongs or you might bring your fights with you, perhaps even yelling or arguing during sessions. Both are OK. Your therapist can act as mediator or referee and help you cope with the resulting emotions and turmoil.
If you or your partner is coping with mental illness, substance abuse or other issues, your therapist might work with other health care providers to provide a complete spectrum of treatment.
If your partner refuses to attend marriage counseling sessions, you can go by yourself. It’s more challenging to mend a relationship when only one partner is willing to go to therapy, but you can still benefit by learning more about your reactions and behavior in the relationship.
Marriage counseling is often short term. You might need only a few sessions to help you weather a crisis or you might need marriage counseling for several months, particularly if your relationship has greatly deteriorated. The specific treatment plan will depend on the situation. In some cases, marriage counseling helps couples discover that their differences truly are irreconcilable and that it’s best to end the relationship.
Making the decision to go to marriage counseling can be tough. If you have a troubled relationship, however, seeking help is more effective than ignoring your problems or hoping they get better on their own.