Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Marriages are not always easy to maintain, and like all other relationships, they need to be managed with devotion and care for them to flourish and bloom. Spouses are like cars; they require regular repairs and timely maintenance. If ignored for a long while, matters can get bigger, requiring more effort to be fixed. Some issues are well handled through a discussion, but there are times when the situation aggravates further, and the small talks drag into big fights. In such situations, a middle party needs to intervene with a guiding hand. It could come in the form of assistance from experts who could help you salvage your dying relationship and revive it with their invaluable advice that springs out of years of experience.
To say that couples therapy can be effective at resolving such long-standing issues will not be unfair. Individuals tend to have many doubts regarding marital therapy or marriage counseling. Many even hesitate to ask details about such therapies, assuming that others would discover the imperfection of their relationship, thinking it open for the intervention from any and every front to reach a compromise. However, this major misunderstanding stops married couples from attending counseling sessions that are, in reality, a source of strengthening the marital bond. A few common concerns are discussed in detail below to clear your suspicions and help you make a wise decision regarding your relationship.
What happens in marriage counseling sessions and couple therapy?
1. Background Check
Couples therapy usually focuses on some standard interview questions regarding the relationship's history and exploration of each partner's family background, cultural background, and personal values. The therapist might use the initial sessions to question specific problems like sexual involvement, jealousy, resentments, and daily addictions. The couple's therapist then supports the two in recognizing the issue that will be the focus of treatment, setting up treatment goals, and plan a structure to initiate the course of treatment. The main aim of the counselor is to pinpoint the weaknesses and give room to the partners to ponder over their mistakes and give a chance to improve the relationship on its own, rather than treating each partner separately.
During the phase of treatment initially, the therapist will assist the couple in gaining an insight into the dynamics of their relationship and overcome the complications. He also helps both partners to understand each of their faulty roles, which are the cause of the mess they are in, such as any attachment issues in their relationships. As a result, each individual understands the changes they need to identify for tackling the obstacles surrounding their relationship. These change-oriented and solution-based interventions prove to be very beneficial in most cases in the early stages of malfunction.
3. Fixing Communication
Although gaining inner perception in a relationship is crucial, another beneficial aspect of counseling involves changing the manner of conduct and the ways one should adopt while interacting with their partner. This can include reducing the frequency of certain behaviors, such as extreme impulsiveness or inattentiveness, as they are indicative of ADHD tendencies prevalent in adults. Counselors often assign homework to couples. They ask each of them to practice the etiquette they have learned to show their efforts towards rendering a better tomorrow.
4. What to expect from marriage counseling therapies?
Marriage counseling can resolve a current problem, prevent worsening of problems, or serve as a routine check-up for a happy couple undergoing a period of transition or increased anxiety. Typical areas of concern addressed in couples therapy include difficulties arising due to job, attachment issues, money, lack of intimacy, infidelity, parenting, in-laws, unhealthiness, infertility, substance use, emotional distance, drinking, gambling, and frequent conflict. The relationship therapist acts as a bridge between the couple to help them understand the underlying confusions and problems that the couples take no notice of and disregard otherwise.
At the end of the whole procedure, couples usually have insight into their relational patterns very carefully. They often experience an increase in emotional expression and development of essential communicational skills, which are necessary to solve most of the minor and major problems with their partners peacefully.
5. Who should opt for a couple therapy?
Couples therapy is advisable for any relationship, whether partners are straight, mixed-race, gay, or married, engaged, dating or separated, old or young. For instance, a soon marrying couple can analyze that they are prepared to get married and are suitable for one another to spend their entire lives with each other happily. In such circumstances, it is sensible to go through a counseling session to be able to take an appropriate step. Or let's look at another couple that is together for 25 years, but is lacking a sense of excitement in their daily routine. They might discover relationship counseling as an effective way for them to reclaim romance and solidarity in their relationship.
6. What do they do in couples therapy?
Doubts about couples therapy and its purpose prevent most couples from seeking assistance early on, although they are well aware of the need. A few misconceptions are that couples therapy is only meant for seriously aggravated relationships or for couples with different personality disorders, e.g., being avoidant of one’s emotions.
Others consider it as a tool to resolve issues like infidelity or addiction. Some even believe that going through these therapies can bring a change in their partner as they desire because they view their partners as 'the problem.'
These misconceptions block out the benefits of couples therapy in treating an extensive range of relationship issues. They are not aware of how effective relational therapy can be at boosting overall relationship satisfaction that affects each individual's mental health.
7. Do marriage counselors take sides?
Outstanding marriage counselors never take sides, no matter who is on the wrong end, but inclusively try their best to point the mistakes in general. They never criticize anyone's partner but focus on the roots of marriage struggles rather than agreement or settlement.
8. How long should you go through marriage counseling?
Relationship counseling sessions usually last about 50-60 minutes. This procedure requires commitment for roughly two months, depending on the stage your relationship is standing and how quickly you're able to cross the hurdles during the procedure. You'll require to meet the marriage counselor weekly with devotion to reach your goal efficiently.
9. Do relationship counselors ever suggest divorce?
Often in an individual's mindset, there is doubt that referring to a marriage counselor can be disastrous. According to subjective belief, humans are and should be capable enough to make their own decisions regarding their personal lives. Even in more apparent circumstances, the counselor would never straightforwardly suggest a divorce, as they are familiar with the emotionally taxing effects of a divorce.
10. When is the right time to go for a couples therapy?
Here comes the most critical question, "When is the right time to undergo couples therapy?" You can figure it out yourself by pondering upon your relationship a little. As mentioned in the beginning, that relationships are like a vehicle. The way your car needs regular service and maintenance, so is the case with your relational affairs. You have to be vigilant when resentments arise and when anger management becomes necessary, as that's the indication that you are required to seek help.
Seeking assistance early on saves you from undergoing a lot of heartaches and emotional trauma. Unfortunately, many couples delay seeking help with a hope that matters would settle down on their own but instead aggravate with the passing time hanging by a thread. Long-standing problems will then be much more challenging, requiring more significant time, effort, and commitment from both partners. And in some cases, even treatment, such as ADHD medication. So, if you can relate to what's discussed here, maybe it’s high time you book your couples therapy too!