Use Couples Message Boards To Improve Your Marriage
Updated May 30, 2019
Disagreements, conflict, and dissatisfaction are all normal in long-term relationships. Most of the time, healthy couples can work through these issues and maintain a strong bond. Sometimes, however, you may find that you and your spouse need some help. Whether it's a disagreement that you can't seem to compromise on or a conflict that is getting in the way of enjoying time together, it will always be easier to resolve the issue sooner rather than later. That's where couples message boards can come in handy.
Message Boards For Marriage
Couples message boards are online forums where people can ask and answer common - and not so common - questions about the relationship. They aren't just about dilemmas, however. These forums provide an avenue for peer support, giving couples space to vent, share, celebrate, and discuss their relationship with others. No matter where your relationship is at, there's likely to be someone in the same boat. Even more helpfully, there are likely to be couples who have encountered similar difficulties in their relationship and overcome them.
Like any new tool for your relationship, couples message boards can take a little getting used to. Here you'll find a few suggestions for finding the right board and getting the most benefit from it.
Getting Help From Couples Message Boards
Couples message boards can function as an informal form of peer support. Peer support is a recognized, effective mental health intervention. While message boards aren't usually formal peer support groups with a facilitator, the general concept of receiving acceptance, help, and understanding from peers is the same. Getting effective help from couples message boards follows some of the same general guidelines as effective peer support in a formal group.
Find The Right Group
You'll want to start by finding a group that can give you effective support. Unlike formal peer support, you're not likely to be given a referral by a doctor. Instead, you'll be looking around on the internet. While this may be overwhelming, it should be fairly easy to tell if a message board will be helpful or not.
The key is making sure that you check out the message boards that you're going to be using before you jump into trusting what they say. Make sure you read through some of the posts and information and see if it sounds like it could help you. Look for others who had similar problems and posted about it and see the type of answers that they got. While you're browsing, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is this community accepting and supportive of people experiencing difficulties?
- When people follow the advice that's given, do they report results that you would like to see in your relationship?
- Does the culture of the message board support your goals for your relationship?
Effective peer support requires empathy, honesty, and compassion. If the answer to the above questions is "yes," you're likely to find positive support on this board. If the answer is no, move on. Don't be discouraged. The internet is a big place, and there's likely to be a place where your vision for your relationship is supported.
Once you've found the right message board, you're ready to move on to post your questions!
Write Your Post
Before you post, it can be helpful to decide on your privacy boundaries. Since you're posting about your relationship, you'll need to take your partner's wishes as well as your own into account. Decide together what kind of details you're comfortable sharing online. This is a personal boundary for each relationship - some couples are comfortable discussing their sex life online, while others will draw the line at general descriptions of their disagreements.
Once you've decided on your privacy boundaries, write out your question or concern in a way that respects these boundaries. It's helpful to be specific about the kind of help that you're looking for, but don't hold back from asking for fear of doing it "wrong." If you've found a supportive board, they'll help you work through your difficulty to figure out what you're looking for. You and your partner can write the message together, or one of you can write it, and the other can read it before it's posted. Then, post your message!
Use Your Feedback
The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that, for effective peer support, participants need to be "open-minded and willing to change." Active listening, a willingness to accept constructive criticism, and working to build relationships within the community is also important.
It's vital that you keep these things in mind as you monitor the feedback that you receive on your questions. You might not receive the answers that you want, and you may be surprised by some of what people share with you. Do your best to accept this without becoming defensive.
At first, you may not feel like you've gotten any good advice. However, even if something that's being suggested doesn't sound like a good idea, you can at least discuss it with your partner and maybe give it a try. You may be surprised at what works for you. You will almost certainly be surprised at how many people are willing and waiting to help you out.
Use Your Common Sense
Being open-minded doesn't mean, of course, that you must accept or use all of the advice that you are given. Sort through the stories and advice that you get for the pieces that seem to fit your values and goals the best. Once you get to know some of the other users on the board, you may get a sense of which people have the kind of relationships that you want to have. Take the advice from those people more seriously.
Above all, don't just go with the answers that you want to hear. After all, if you're asking other people for advice, it's because you haven't been able to solve the problem yourself. Be open to new perspectives and surprising pieces of advice. Be willing to try more than one potential solution. Agree with your spouse on what it will look for something to "work," and try things until you find that.
While it's possible to use a couples massage for a quick question, online forums will provide the most effective support for you as a couple if you become part of the community. Don't just ask and run - respond to the feedback that you receive, take part in friendly conversation, and report back with the results of the advice that you put into practice. In addition to finding help with your marriage, you may find some new online friends!
Helping Others On Couples Message Boards
Once you've gotten the help, you need, it's time to return the favor. After all, peer support is about giving and receiving.
It can be intimidating to give advice or answer questions. After all, people may not choose to follow your advice or may push back on your suggestions. But community participation can happen in lots of ways, and you should be able to find a way to give back that stay within your comfort level.
An easy way to begin to participate in a forum is to answer questions that people ask. They may be wanting to know if anyone else has experienced something that they're going through. Maybe they would like to know what other people would do in their shoes. Or, they may need practical information about locating resources for their relationship. If you have an answer to these, you can give it.
Giving advice can be harder than answering questions. It gets more difficult, the more serious the situation is. Think a little more carefully before you offer advice, but remember - if someone is asking for advice, that's what they have come here for. When you give advice, try to make it specific and actionable. That means suggesting something that the person asking for advice could do.
Don't feel like you need to have a perfect relationship before you can give advice. Maybe you and your partner have had fights or disagreements about other things that you've been able to resolve, and those things can make it easier for both of you to help others. Don't be afraid to jump in on other message board questions and help the people there to see what you know and how you can help.
If you aren't sure how to advise on a direct but gentle way, think of it as another way of answering the question, "what would you do?" Instead of deciding what the other person should do, and telling them, think of what you would do in their situation and offer that as a potential solution. Try to be realistic. What we think that we should do, and what we would do in any given situation are often different. Be empathetic in your advice. Remember that a peer support community is about acceptance and support.
Just Be There
If you don't want to answer questions and don't feel like you have the advice to give, you can still help out within the community. A big part of what makes peer support effectively is an emphasis on shared experience and acceptance. Sometimes, all that people need is someone to let them know that they understand, and empathize.
People sometimes share very difficult, personal, or even traumatic relationship stories in couples message boards. You can help these people simply by letting them know that they have been heard. Let them know that you're thinking of them and wishing them well. Cheer them on as they work towards their relationship goals. Sympathize with them when things aren't going well. A listening ear can be just as important as good advice.
Enjoy The Benefits
Working together as a couple is the best part of a message board. When you can openly discuss the problems that you're having, and get the help you're looking for from others who have actually been there, it can definitely be a benefit. After all, your therapist probably hasn't been there before, so finding out from someone who has might be an even better way for you to get a start on the problem before you start looking for other help. As some of the benefits of premarital counseling suggest, getting help for problems early may be the best way to solve them without intensive therapeutic intervention.
Do You Need More Help Than A Couples Message Board?
Sometimes, you may need more help than peer support can provide. There are some situations where a licensed professional is the best option. These situations include relationship complications caused by serious issues and times when you and your partner want more structured help.
It's important to remember the peer support like couples message boards isn't therapy. While advice and support from other couples can help you and your partner work through many common disagreements and conflicts, it's not a substitute for professional input. If the problems in your relationship are caused by substance abuse, mental illness, abuse, or other serious issues, it's important to get professional help. The licensed counselors and therapists at ReGain are always available. You can choose to pursue help here with or without your partner.
More Structure Needed
You don't need to have serious issues going on to benefit from professional help. If you and your partner aren't sure about how you're going to use some of the things that are suggested to you it's always a good idea to talk with a professional. They'll be able to help you better understand your options and look at what's going on in your relationship. All you need to do to find one is get online and check out ReGain. You'll find a range of therapists and psychiatrists that can help you and your partner to improve your relationship in no time.
ReGain is an online counseling service dedicated to helping couples make the most of their relationship. We can provide customized help for issues large and small. Get in touch to regain the enjoyment that you want in your romantic relationship.