If your marriage isn’t as amazing as you believe it could be, I can help you and your spouse identify areas of improvement and ways to restore and enhance your connection with your spouse.
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What Issues Are Most Commonly Dealt With in Marriage Counseling?
There are three areas that can drive relationship problems in a marriage. First, and most obvious, are dynamics between a couple that are going wrong.
A few common issues dealt with in marriage counseling are:
The second category is when the individual problems or weaknesses of one (or both) create tension or trouble, like anxiety, mismanaged anger, substance abuse, low self esteem or depression.
The last category of marital stress is caused by forces external to the relationship itself. Examples are pressures from raising a difficult child, medical/health issues, grief from the loss of someone close, or loss of a job. Families of origin, or “in-laws” can add significant pressure to the couple’s relationship.
Just one of these areas having impact on a marriage is enough to get started in counseling.
Should You Get Marriage Counseling When Things Are Going Well?
The short answer is a resounding yes!
Couples make the decision to marry with hope that theirs will be a remarkable, fruitful, even amazing relationship. They want to experience increasing joy, connection, delight in each other as years move ahead. Some couples have very strong elements in their relationship, like commitment, shared values, a willingness to work hard, but increasing joy and delight often feels elusive and perhaps fades out. The very fruit they hoped for seems out of reach.
This couple is a great candidate for marital counseling. The work of counseling can validate and build on the strengths already present, and uncover the dynamics (like conflict resolution) that hinder the celebration and delight and deeper understanding they long for.
How Should You Choose a Marriage Counselor?
The best referral for a counselor comes from someone you already trust, like a pastor or a good friend or family member. When that source is not available, you can develop a list of your own needs and preferences for a good fit between you and a counselor.
Some fairly obvious parts of a list are right price, convenient location and availability. More important are the counselor’s level of experience with your set of issues, the maturity they bring, and the spiritual values and guiding principles that guide the counselor.
Your list can guide you in your very first interaction with the counselor. The phone call can yield a lot of clarity, especially if you are assertive with your questions. It may feel invasive to ask personal questions of the counselor, but you are entrusting him with your very precious relationship. Ask away!
And if the fit seems right but the price is too high, it’s appropriate to ask early on regarding any option to receive a lowered price.
Is Marriage Counseling Really Worth It?
Like so many things in life, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out!
How determined and persistent you are will define the quality of outcome in your marriage. The old joke applies: “How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one, but the bulb has to really want to change!”
Often couples contact me in a crisis, which is very painful and scary. But the potential to secure and grow a better relationship is great. Being stuck in a pain-filled, “not working” pattern can create motivation to consider new ways of caring for each other. A skilled counselor can help accomplish that change.
Do Both People Have to Attend Marriage Counseling?
Sometimes marital counseling can even begin with just one spouse. The spouse that begins first can often lay the groundwork for the other spouse to join in.
It’s not unusual that one member of a couple is more invested and hopeful in the counseling process than the other.
However, both spouses will need to engage and be part of marital counseling to get the best outcomes. Since it takes two to create a problem, it takes two to solve it, even when one spouse appears more at fault. Each partner will change and grow in the course of marital counseling.