Marriage counseling is a type of psychotherapy. The goal is to help couples identify and resolve conflicts to improve the relationship. The goal is to attempt to rebuild or strengthen the marriage. If things cannot be resolved, it is okay and accepted for the couple to divorce.1
Typically, it is a short-term solution to fix issues in a relationship. Sometimes, one of the spouses will work with the therapist alone as well as participate in marriage counseling.
Even though people tend to confuse marriage counseling and couples therapy, they are very different processes. Marriage counseling helps couples deal with the difficulties of marriage. The goal of everyone involved is to help the relationship get back on track. It also helps couples improve in communication, mend trust, reignite passion, and build processes to manage problems when they arise.2
Couples therapy, on the other hand, focuses on trying to find the root of a couple’s problem. The goal is to figure out why things are happening. The goal of therapy is to discover why a couple is having a specific kind of problem, so they can then take the initiative to work on it.2
The first session normally involves paperwork and allowing the therapist to get to know you as a couple and as individuals. Normally, the therapist will ask about your goals and why you are seeking counseling. The sessions can also vary. Sometimes, there can be couples, individual, and family therapy sessions. The timeline of the number of sessions varies by each couple.
Normally, sessions will vary between 75 to 90 minutes if the couple is going weekly. The reason it is longer than an individual session is that two people are communicating, not just one. The extra time is necessary to achieve the progress desired
One of the most popular types is emotionally focused therapy. This therapy is where the couple focuses on one another’s emotions and building up their awareness, compassion, and acceptance. The goal is to create a stronger bond.3
Another type is imago relationship therapy, which focuses on the connection between experiences from one’s childhood and how it impacts their relationships as an adult. The Gottman Method is another popular form of counseling that focuses on data analysis and specific strategies.4
Finally, there is cognitive behavioral therapy, a very popular form of therapy that focuses on how thoughts impact behaviors. CBT therapists believe that a person’s thoughts can control their feelings, and those feelings will control their actions.4
There are several reasons for a couple to seek out marriage counseling. Here are just a few.
Addiction is a family problem. Substance use disorder not only impacts the person struggling but also everyone around them. A couple should seek marriage counseling if one or both partners are struggling with substance abuse. Individual therapy would be useful as well.
Sadly, many couples come to a point where divorce seems inevitable. Trying marriage counseling before making this tough choice would be a wise decision. It is best to not go into counseling with the thought to keep the marriage together at all costs, which can make some couples feel uncomfortable. However, therapy will teach you several strategies before deciding to continue with the marriage.
As life happens, it can be very easy for a couple to grow apart from one another due to a difference in dreams or vision. Marriage counseling can help a couple learn how to communicate with one another their desires, feelings, and needs. The therapist can also teach them bonding strategies to help them grow closer together once again.
Intimacy issues are one reason why a couple should seek marriage counseling. When intimacy is lacking, a couple can drift apart easily. Working through these issues with a marriage counselor can help a couple navigate these issues.
Although there are many benefits to marriage counseling, there are some unsuitable reasons for attending this therapy. Going to counseling for these reasons can lead to more trauma and pain inside of the relationship.
Nobody deserves to feel like they are broken. When someone goes into counseling to try to fix our spouse, it can end up driving a wedge further into the relationship. In addition, this aspect could be a sign of codependency. Counseling isn’t about fixing each other, but rather working collaboratively on your relationship.
According to Aaron Horn, around 75% of couples that go through counseling believe they benefitted from it.5 Normally, couples who take it seriously can find not only short-term success but even better long-term results. There are several benefits to seeking out the proper kind of marriage counseling for the right reasons.
Conflict resolution is one of the most difficult aspects of any relationship. It is not something that comes naturally, and it takes a lot of work. Counseling helps couples develop techniques and gives them a space to practice them, so they can resolve conflicts as they come up.
Many times, someone might feel like their spouse is not listening or their feelings are not being recognized. Counseling is a great time to share your emotions and thoughts with a mediator present. The therapist can then help you as a couple learns how to listen to one another without trying to fix one another.
As with any kind of counseling, people tend to have lots of questions. Many times, people have a stigma around counseling, which can make it difficult to attend. Hopefully, some of these answers help alleviate any discomfort you might have.
One of the best reasons to go into marriage counseling is to have an amicable divorce. Therefore, it can be very beneficial to a couple that is separated, especially if children are involved. Marriage counseling allows for the couple to choose to divorce or continue with their marriage, so it can also be for couples that have divorced.
Marriage counseling is an extremely beneficial tool when a couple is willing to put in the time and effort. It is not a quick fix that will resolve all your marriage problems, but it will provide you with the tools you need to improve communication, build trust, and address problems. Talk to your spouse about it and start looking for someone you both can trust.