What Happens in Marriage Counseling?
Let’s face it: Marriage counseling can have a bad reputation. But if that’s just reputation, then, truly, what happens in marriage counseling?
First, why does marriage counseling have a bad reputation?
Some people think marriage counseling doesn’t work or that it leads to divorce. That’s often because couples wait too long to get the help they need to strengthen their relationship. Studies show that couples seek help about seven years after relationship struggles arise.
And why wait so long? Well, many people incorrectly assume marriage counseling is only for individuals who suffer from mental health problems or as a last resort before considering divorcing. By the time they start marriage counseling, it may indeed be too late.
Another reason marriage counseling has a bad reputation is because many counselors who say they do marriage counseling actually have no training in this professional specialty. This is precisely why vetting your marriage counselor before you invest your time and your money should be a top priority. Now that we unpacked why marriage counseling can have a bad reputation in our society, let’s jump into what happens in marriage counseling!
What happens in marriage counseling?
Studies also show that couples counseling can save—and even strengthen—your marriage.
In marriage counseling, you and your partner:
- Learn communication skills present in successful relationships
- Realize which problems can be solved and which problems need management
- Manage and resolve the conflicts that can be solved
- More smoothly merge families and/or co-parent
- Stay connected during a transition or major life change
- Learn the value of apologies and repair
And what about specialized marriage counselors? How do they do their job? Well-trained marriage counselors have a plan for change because they have deep, specialized understanding of relationships.
Effective marriage counselors:
- Have a plan for change
- Define the goals for the process so you know what you are working on
- Provide a safe space for the two of you have difficult conversations without repeating the patterns that don’t work
- Guide you towards solutions and teamwork
- re a trained to stop conversations that are not productive or constructive
- Help you and your partner become better partners and a better listeners
- Help you fight fair
- Teach the elements of good repair after a fight
- Help you become accountable for your own behaviors
Effective marriage counselors usually don’t:
- Allow you to just vent about the latest fight
- Fail to provide structure for the difficult conversations
- Take sides
- Allow one person to dominate the conversation
Going to see a well trained marriage counselor is not always easy. It requires that you do some soul searching about how you contribute to the problems in your marriage. Some people view talking to a counselor as a sign of weakness, failure or mental health problems. However, you wouldn’t think of hiring a car mechanic or a plumber as sign of weakness. Going to couples counseling isn’t an admission of defeat, it just means that you want to have a better relationship.
Now that you know what good marriage counselors do and don’t do, find an effective and well-trained expert that can help you navigate the ups and downs of your relationship. You and your partner can stay on track!