What Is Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling is a form of therapy that aims to strengthen the relationship between spouses. In marriage counseling, the couple will meet with a therapist to discuss issues and pressure points in their marriage. The goal of marriage counseling is to address problems that are affecting the quality of their relationship.
In marriage counseling, a couple is able to learn many things. They gain insight on how to communicate with each other. The couple learns how to work together to solve problems, and be sensitive to each other’s needs. Marriage counseling can also be helpful with learning healthy, constructive arguing skills.
People in marriage counseling are expected to be open to different perspectives and ideas. They also will be expected to share about their own insight and feelings about difficult situations. This encourages growth that is geared toward promoting teamwork. It can also be helpful in addressing family issues.
Marriage counseling is a form of couples therapy. Sessions are typically performed by a mental health professional. Such mental health professionals include:
- Marriage and family therapists
- Licensed mental health counselors
- Licensed professional counselors
- Clinical social workers
- Pastoral counselors
Depending on the couple’s needs, sessions may be held weekly, biweekly or monthly. A therapist can be an asset to addressing issues in relationships. They provide a neutral ground for married couples to openly express their thoughts. They also help with processing concerns about the relationship without fear of judgement.
Therapy opens the lines of communication between husband and wife. This line of communication is often strained at the beginning of marriage counseling. The strain may be due to a number of issues, including:
- Fear of another heated argument
- Differing points of view
- Different communication styles
Many couples who decide to undergo counseling hope to rebuild their relationship. In many cases this goal can be achieved.
While marriage counseling can work, there are times when a partner may have already made up their minds. It is possible for a partner to start marriage counseling feeling that separation is the only solution. This type of mentality can make marriage counseling challenging at first.
In such cases, a therapist will aim to improve motivation to address the challenges in the relationship. This can be a complicated process especially when one partner is hopeful while the other is not.
Sometimes, such situations can be successful. They can allow the couple to establish communication and methods of rebuilding intimacy. It is possible to have successful marriage counseling even if one of the partners is checked out. For these partners, the decision to attend marriage counseling is enough to assume that there is still some hope in the relationship.
Unfortunately, not all marriage counseling sessions end in success. Sometimes, couples in marriage counseling are not able to work through their issues. It can also be possible for neither partner to be willing to resolve the issues in the relationship.
In such cases, the couple may have chosen to separate. For couples who have chosen to separate, the goal for marriage counseling is not to get back together. It is instead to make the separation as amicable as possible.
A goal in cases where the couple has chosen to separate is to preserve respect for one another. This helps the process of ending the marriage. Seeking or staying in marriage counseling after deciding to end the marriage is an integral part of the therapeutic process. Doing so is important, especially if there are kids involved.
Marriage counseling for separated couples can promote a cooperative working dynamic. This will be helpful for separation and divorce proceedings. It is also an important part of learning and modifying parenting skills.
Marriage counselors are trained to facilitate the discussion between couples in each session. When arguments start or get heated, the counselor will be able to de-escalate the space. They will also help with teaching grounding skills. Of course, the therapist will also provide insight on the argument.
A professional marriage counselor will remain a neutral party. The role of the marriage counselor is to provide insight on the dynamics of the relationship. Their goal is to not take sides or to tell the couple who is right or wrong. Their goal is to promote healthy communication styles. The role of the marriage counselor is to help the couple work together to find resolution.
Sessions typically take place once a week in the beginning. The therapy schedule is catered to each couple’s unique needs. If the couple is progressing, the therapist may recommend a lighter schedule.
A treatment plan for marriage counseling usually plans for a treatment period of three months. However, couples can opt to arrange for more sessions. They may stay in counseling until they feel that they have learned the skills needed to promote healthy relationship habits on their own.