Marriage Counseling Tips That Can Improve Your Relationship
Abundant research shows that marriage counseling is often highly effective in helping couples navigate challenges and form closer relationships. Most couples seek marriage counseling to resolve specific issues that threaten the marriage— but many choose to attend therapy together for the continuing growth and improvement of the marriage beyond conflict.
Marriages of all kinds have unique challenges, and people go to couples counseling or therapy for a wide range of reasons. For example, some couples may attend marriage counseling to develop better conflict resolution skills and communication or improve intimacy. Some want to attend couples therapy to support their partner with individual challenges. Others simply want to put the "spark" back in the relationship and cultivate greater excitement if it's waned over the years.
Regardless of the reasons, if you and your partner have decided to seek support, there are a few helpful tips for approaching marriage counseling to improve your relationship and your experience in therapy.
For some, being open and honest about what they'd like to improve in their marriage is challenging. This may be because they want to spare each other's feelings or they feel uncomfortable with confrontation. This is natural, but honesty between all parties is vital for successful marriage counseling. Without honesty, identifying and addressing issues, finding solutions, and cultivating a stronger bond between you will be much more challenging. By being open and honest in therapy, you and your partner can pave a smoother path for change by learning more about each other's needs and preferences.
Listen Actively And Communicate Effectively
While communicating candidly and honestly is the strongest foundation for success in therapy, it's also important to communicate in a clear way that shows you're engaged and listening. The willingness to discuss each other's experiences with empathy and deep listening not only helps you commit as a couple but it allows your therapist to help in a deep and productive way.
Try To Disagree Healthily
The ability to disagree with anyone in a fair, nonjudgmental way that encourages discourse is a valuable skill, especially in a relationship. Every relationship has disagreements, and there may even be times when you don't know if they can be resolved. Establish a willingness to disagree with one another in therapy in a healthy way from the start. Your therapist will play a significant part in helping you do this effectively during sessions and teaching you how to disagree healthily in everyday life outside of your marriage, as well.
Be Willing To Change
Change can be intimidating, and the fear of the unknown is a significant deterrent to becoming comfortable with change. On top of those barriers, some have difficulty changing their behavior or personality because they perceive it as an affront to their self-esteem. If you've identified areas of your behavior during therapy that need improvement to move the relationship forward, it's essential to be willing to change those behaviors for the sake of your marriage. Not only does an unwillingness to change hinder the effectiveness of marriage counseling, but it may also drive a wedge and create resentment between you and your partner.
Commit To The Process
When you and your spouse decide to seek help from a relationship counselor, you're essentially committing to a journey of discovery and improvement. Cultivating a strong, healthy marriage often takes work. If you're not willing to do your part, including attending each session and engaging actively in the process, it may hinder your success and discourage your partner from engaging as well.
Some couples want to commit to the process but have difficulty doing so because of scheduling and reachability issues. In cases where it's challenging to coordinate schedules and commutes to an office, couples find online marriage counseling an excellent solution for staying engaged and committed to therapy.
Spend Time Focusing On Each Other
Although it's critical to the success of many relationships, carving out time to spend together isn't always at the top of the priority list for some couples. When our schedules are already crowded with mandatory engagements, reserving time to focus on our partner may be difficult. However, doing activities together and going on regular dates can go a long way toward maintaining a bond. Many couples use therapy as an opportunity to focus on each other as well as having regular dinner dates or engaging in shared activities they enjoy.
Just like everyone else, your partner experiences difficulties and has things in their life that are important to them. They may have times when they feel alone or unable to resolve their struggles effectively. Being an integral part of your partner's support system will contribute not only to their well-being but the well-being of your marriage as well. Regardless of the challenges, it's essential to help them through it. Show your partner that you believe in them and will be by their side no matter what.
Part of being supportive includes positivity. When you praise your partner for their good qualities and communicate with them about the things you love most about them, it demonstrates to them that you're a supportive spouse. No matter how large or small, try to recognize your partner's contributions and express gratitude for them.
Sometimes it pays to be spontaneous and do thoughtful, unexpected things for each other. Showing your partner that you care with random acts of kindness will help bring you closer together and encourage bonding throughout the time you've designated to work on your marriage and beyond. You can bring them coffee at work, make dinner after a hectic day, or make reservations at their favorite restaurant. Gifts are always nice, too. Your gestures don't have to be expensive or grandiose—the point is to show your affection and gratitude that they're your partner.
Keep An Open Mind
Often, the journey of self-discovery in therapy requires an open mind and a willingness to think about things in a different light than you may have ordinarily before. There may be numerous ways you can approach strengthening your marriage, and it's important to consider all angles for success. Exploring the ways you and your partner can become closer can be a challenge, but it can also be insightful and fulfilling if you remain open to the process.
Couples who take the time to nurture their relationship often reap the rewards for their work in the form of more satisfaction, stronger bonds, and a tighter family unit. A solid marriage is often the foundation for a healthier, more balanced state of mind outside the relationship as well.
There are many options for couples to obtain marital support and counseling. Group settings are popular with some, and there are plenty of online forums to communicate with a relationship specialist in the company of other couples experiencing marital issues or simply looking to strengthen their relationship. There are also in-person groups often available within most communities through different channels.
Some couples feel uncomfortable discussing the personal details of their marriage in a group setting, instead opting for conventional private marriage counseling. A quick Google search may yield therapists in your area specializing in relationships and marriage.
With its rise in popularity, many couples find that talking to a marriage counselor online is the most convenient, reachable, and affordable option. Platforms like ReGain pair couples with counselors with experience that fits their unique needs to reach their unique goals. Online therapy with ReGain allows couples to attend appointments when it's convenient from the comfort and privacy of home. You can speak to your counselor via online chat, video chat, text, and phone. Online therapy is also often more affordable than conventional therapy without insurance, and a growing body of research indicates that it's just as effective.
If you're ready to strengthen your marriage, develop better communication and conflict resolution skills, and cultivate better mental health for you both, a ReGain counselor can help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
How Do I Succeed In Marriage Counseling?
To succeed in couples therapy or marriage counseling, you and your partner must be invested in the process. You must be committed to putting effort into counseling. This will mean a variety of things. First, it means putting effort into showing up. Then, it means being vulnerable enough to open up to a therapist or counselor, both individually and as a couple. You and your spouse will have to talk to one another and might have to have some hard conversations in counseling, depending on what you're there for.
You must be honest. If something is on your mind that relates to your partnership and it weighs on you, you need to talk about it. It will hold you back both in therapy and in the success of your relationship if you don't talk about what's going on internally.
For example, if you have a fear of being "needy" and it makes you afraid to talk about your needs in counseling, that something to move toward. We all have needs, and there's nothing to be ashamed of in getting ready for couples therapy. A marriage counselor or marriage therapist is there to be an objective third-party that helps you and your partner navigate things productively and work through any issues you might have. Counseling is an excellent place to get some marriage advice and to talk about things that you've been nervous to verbalize. It is a safe space where you are there to strengthen the bond you have with your partner and work through anything you have going on that affects your relationship.
What Is The Success Rate Of Couples Counseling?
Research shows that over 90% of couples who received couples therapy are happy with the care that they got. EFT or emotionally focused therapy, a common modality used in couples counseling, boasts a 70-75% success rate. 90% of those surveyed said that it helped at least to some extent, whereas the aforementioned 70-75% considered their relationship to be in recovery after therapy. You can get couples counseling in person or online through a therapy web site. Whether you see someone face to face or remotely depends on a number of factors, including your preferences and requirements.
To find more information about online therapy at ReGain, check the FAQ section of our website or go to the start page.
What To Say In Couples Counseling?
Again, it's vital to be honest in couples counseling or couples therapy. Most couples see couples therapists or marriage therapists with some sort of idea as to what they want to talk about in therapy. It could be that you want to see a couples therapist to work through a disagreement that you have on a regular basis, especially one that feels like a dealbreaker, parenting issues, concerns related to trust or cheating, intimacy issues, or something else.
In some cases, you might go to a counseling session after a particular issue arises. When this happens, it can provide you with a lot of insight. For example, if it's valentine's day and your spouse forgets or acts like they don't care and hurts your feelings, you can take the initiative to talk about it. You can say, "when this happened on valentine's day, I felt like I wasn't receiving love." There are times when your partner may hurt you without realizing it, either due to personal differences or just missing something. Personal differences don't mean that you can't work things through. It just means that you could benefit from learning about how each other clicks.
It's important not to be heavily critical of your spouse. When you don't understand something, work to gain perspective on it. Of course, you always get to decide what your deal breakers are and what your boundaries are. However, with more trivial things, it's often a matter of needing communication or development in understanding one another.
What Can I Get Out Of Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling should give you and your partner skills and tools that you can use throughout the course of your marriage moving forward. You're not going to be in couples therapy forever. It's typically rather short term. What marriage counseling or couples therapy is meant to do is to give you sustainable methods and modalities to use yourself outside of therapy. Of course, you can always go back to therapy to learn more. Sometimes, individuals or couples go to counseling, stop going to counseling, and then come back. The ball is in your court in marriage counseling.
You can talk about any issues you and your partner are going through and anything that affects your relationship either as a couple or on an individual level. If you would like to talk about your sex life specifically, you might consider going to a sex therapist with your partner. The type of therapy you decide on will depend heavily on you and your partner, as will what you get out of the experience.
What Should I Expect From My First Marriage Counseling Session?
Your first marriage counseling session will generally consist of your therapist or counselor asking you a series of questions. You will tell your new counselor or therapist about who you are and why you're there. Likely, during the first session, things won't get too heavy. You will just provide an overview of your relationship, what brings you to therapy, and perhaps some of your goals for therapy or counseling. You'll reevaluate goals throughout the counseling process to make sure you're getting the most out of the experience. If you and your parter just recently got married, yoy can ask a marriage counselor on what to expect for newlyweds.
To find more information about what you can get from a specific mental health provider, it's best to ask them. Some marriage therapists specialize in particular therapy modalities that they use to work with couples. Additionally, every therapist will have a different demeanor and personality, which can make a difference.
Does Counseling Really Help Marriages?
Many couples find marriage counseling effective and beneficial. Statistics indicate that just over 97% of couples who seek marriage counseling got the assistance they were looking for. Counselors and therapists who work with couples are well-versed in relationships sex marriage family and other issues. When looking for a marriage therapist, Take note of if there is anything specific that would make you feel comfortable in therapy.
For example, if you're religious, it might make you feel comfortable to have a therapist who aligns with your beliefs. You might also look for someone who utilizes a specific therapeutic modality. In some cases, individual counseling might be a better fit for your needs.
For example, if you find yourself struggling with symptoms of anxiety depression, or eating disorders and want counseling one-on-one to focus on concerns related to the condition, you may look for someone who works with individuals rather than couples. Eating disorders can be tricky to spot; if you find yourself preoccupied with health fitness or weight loss to the point that it's detrimental to your wellbeing, it's important to seek help from a licensed provider. The same is true for if you notice symptoms of another mental health condition in yourself, or if you are struggling in general and have a hard time coping with it on your own.
People don't just go to counseling for relationship problems or mental health conditions. You can also go to therapy to address stress, work, school, familial issues, identity, or anything else. Counseling is your safe space to talk about whatever's on your mind. In some cases, people might go to both marriage counseling and individual therapy. You can also decide to attend group therapy or a support group.
When Should You Consider Couples Counseling?
If your DIY marriage counseling isn't enough and you want to save your marriage or current relationship, couple's counseling is a great way to go. However, wanting to save your marriage isn't the only reason that you might go to couples counseling. People go to couples counseling or therapy for a wide range of reasons. Here are some scenarios in which you may consider couples counseling:
- Frequent arguments
- Communication issues
- Trust problems
- Trouble understanding each other
- Wanting to support your spouse with a personal matter (or vice versa)
- Family planning
- Preparing for marriage
- Wondering how to put the spark back into your relationship or wanting to save your marriage
Ultimately, there are infinite reasons you might go to counseling, and there's no wrong reason to go to couples counseling. Whether you have a happy marriage or one that's on the rocks, there are ways to benefit from the therapeutic process. You might go to couples counseling to learn about conflict resolution skills, communication, or to improve your relationship overall. With social distancing due to the coronavirus, a lot of people are deciding to go to couples therapy or marriage therapy remotely. You can go through an online therapy service or work with a provider in your local area who offers remote sessions if you're interested in remote therapy.
What Is The Difference Between Marriage Counseling And Couples Therapy?
There are multiple kinds of couples therapy, and marriage counseling or marriage therapy is one of them. The term couples therapy could encompass a number of things. For example, An unmarried couple might seek couples counseling in the form of premarital counseling, or a married couple may seek couples counseling together. When people refer to marriage therapy or marriage therapists, they are typically referring to forms of therapy or marriage therapists that work with married couples.
However, a licensed marriage and family therapist can work with anyone, whether it's in individual counseling, couples therapy marriage counseling, or family therapy. It all depends on what their specialty is and what populations they work with as a unique provider. If the first marriage counselor or a couples therapist you see doesn't work for you, it is okay to switch. Sometimes, the first counselor or therapist you see, whether they're a marriage counselor or an individual counselor, won't be the right fit, and that's okay. Whether you work with someone in person or online, you can find a provider that makes a difference in your life. You deserve a happy marriage, and counseling can help.
What factors contribute to the effectiveness of couples therapy?
Through counseling, many couples go from traumatic to healthy and happy relationships. Many people consider couples therapy a last recourse, so how to get the most out of couples therapy? Couples must first be willing to work on themselves since couples therapy is about the relationship, not about you or your spouse.
Second, couples should show up with an open mind that all difficulties are manageable and that everything is worth a go because there are numerous solutions to all problems. Finally, couples must be willing to do their homework because life's challenges are designed to be overcome amid daily living, and both must learn how to communicate in real-time.
How do I know if my marriage counselor is good?
When should you stop marriage counseling?
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