Couples learn quickly before, during and after the wedding ceremony that marriage isn’t as easy as they thought. It requires hard work and commitment. After the blissful honeymoon-period, couples often realize that they are not as compatible as they previously thought. Or they encounter problems which they never thought would be an issue. Or the couple is unable to nurture their relationship due to things such as jobs and children consuming all their time. These difficulties are certainly not unusual and seeking the advice of a marriage counselor may go a long way towards strengthening and even saving the marital relationship.
How can marriage counseling help couples?
Marriage counseling is important for addressing marital concerns because it allows couples to take some time out of their busy lives and come together to really focus on themselves. The counselor acts as a sort of mediator between the spouses and facilitates healthy and effective communication. It is particularly helpful where couples are set on improving their relationships but are not sure how to go about doing so. The counselor can help to analyze the behavioral patterns of the spouses and identify those which lead to conflict. Once such patterns have been identified, the couple can, with the help of the counselor, work on modifying them.
Effective communication is one of the most important aspects of any marriage, however it is not uncommon for couples to reach an impasse and lose their ability to share their feelings and needs with one another. Counseling can give the couple tools to start improving their communication, for example by eliminating bad habits such as constantly interrupting the other partner or speaking too much and not giving the other partner a chance to respond. In addition, where the couple has been reluctant or too busy to face the underlying issues that are causing problems in their marriage, counseling can serve as a platform where these issues can finally be confronted.
Another important way marriage counseling can be helpful in strengthening the relationship is to help create a more realistic picture of who each partner really is rather than who the other partner wants him or her to be. This can go a long way in settling misunderstandings and avoiding miscommunications. It is certainly a lot easier to find common ground if the spouses are aware of and respect each other’s desires and motivations.
Marriage counseling also offers couples a way to stay accountable to each other. Learning new tools will only help if these tools are put into practice and take the place of previous, unhealthy habits. Counselors will often assign homework to the couple in an effort to create patterns that stand the test of time.
When is marriage counseling effective?
Like any other type of counseling, spouses must be willing to undergo marriage counseling. Ideally they must have decided for themselves that, instead of throwing in the towel, they wish to work on the marriage and address the problems that have arisen. Furthermore spouses must have realistic expectations with regard to the counseling process. A marriage cannot be saved overnight and it will take a couple of sessions to really get into the couple’s dynamics and initiate the process of change.