Marriage Counseling and Couple’s Therapy

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Couple on a Bench

The same way we all have different fingerprints, backgrounds and impressions of the world, we all have different ways of communicating at times. Our differences often attract us to one another and can lead to exciting new experiences that may even change our opinions and beliefs.

However, these differences can also lead to disagreements or discord, even within the most secure relationships.

Difficulty reaching an understanding or resolution of a couple’s relationship issues can be the relationship equivalent of getting a car stuck in a ditch. Instead of moving forward, the wheels spin, sometimes digging the car in deeper. In the relationship, the ditch may be a conversation or argument consisting of the same words and phrases that keep repeating.

To continue the metaphor, the car may need the assistance of a tow truck to get out of the ditch. Like the car and the tow truck, the couple may benefit from the guidance of an experienced marriage counselor who can help the couple connect and collaborate to work through their problems, ideally leading to a happier, healthier and more stable existence.

How Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Movies and television shows often depict an exaggerated version of marriage counseling, which can lead to misconceptions or even a reluctance or refusal for some to consider couple’s therapy. This is unfortunate because the goal of couple’s therapy is to create a safe place where both partners can openly discuss issues in the relationship.

Couple’s therapy prevents the couple from reverting to previous patterns that exacerbated problems. The therapist directs a shift in communication that allows listening and understanding to replace the earlier patterns that hindered progress.

Hands not Touching

What Happens in Couple’s Therapy?

Couple’s therapy will begin with you and your partner meeting with the therapist as a couple. As the name suggests, most of your sessions will be together as a couple unless the therapist requests individual sessions to explore your history or your partner’s in greater detail as an individual.

The first session consists of discussing problems in the relationship and examining the possible causes. Once the issues are identified, you can begin to work together to improve communication and understanding.

The more honest you both are in this process, the more likely it is that therapy will lead to a more fulfilling relationship.

A relationship is a journey, and a couple’s therapist can be a valuable resource assisting with navigation, especially when the terrain proves difficult or when you and your partner can’t seem to agree on which direction is best.

During the next sessions together, your therapist will likely encourage the two of you to set goals. This may sound scary, particularly if you fear your partner’s goals do not align with yours. However, even with different perspectives, you can still work together to find the best path forward.

Fears and Feelings

Some people mistakenly assume that marriage counseling is a small step away from divorce, but that is not the case at all. In fact, by helping you both learn to communicate more effectively and work through issues, couple’s therapy may provide you with the necessary tools to repair rifts in the relationship.

Your couple’s therapist is objective. He or she will not tell you what to do or try to make decisions for either of you. Your therapist is a helpful guide, not a backseat driver.

If your partner is reluctant to enter couple’s therapy, he or she may fear being blamed or criticized. Communicate that this is not the intention and do not make the therapy sound like a last resort or a threat.

Let your partner know that the purpose of marriage counseling is to figure out the source of the discord, so it can hopefully be overcome.

 

Communication Barriers

Communication seems like a simple, natural and easy exchange of information and understanding. After all, if we are all speaking the same language, why does it seem like things still get lost in translation?

Some threats to open communication are behaviors that we may not be aware of on our own. Some of these behaviors only emerge in times of stress while others may be a routine that we frequently fall into without realizing it.

Couple Fighting

Repeated disagreements can cause us to get defensive. Suddenly, everything feels like an attack, which may prevent a partner from feeling able to communicate.

Another response that can be detrimental to communication is when a partner shuts down and refuses to continue discussing an issue.

Along with defensiveness and refusal to communicate, bitterness, unresolved anger and resentment can all halt communication and threaten your compatibility.

Eliminating the Distance

Sooner or later, all relationships experience some form of conflict among partners. This is unavoidable. Each partner is an individual with a perspective as unique as a fingerprint. You won’t see eye to eye on every issue. This becomes a problem when the conflict begins to overshadow or define the relationship.

If laughter has left the relationship only to be replaced by an argument that you both keep repeating or if life events have created stress that is negatively impacting your relationship, you and your partner might need help eliminating the distance that has grown between you. An experienced and empathetic marriage counselor can help you navigate that distance.

You may be wondering what happens with most couples who receive marriage counseling. Over 98 percent of families and couples surveyed by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists indicated high levels of satisfaction following family or couple’s therapy, and 93 percent said the therapy provided them with effective tools for dealing with issues. Respondents to the survey also said that therapy helped them improve their health and wellness at home and in the workplace.

You may also be wondering about a potential timeline for marriage counseling. Every couple is different, and the length of time it takes to work through problems also varies.

The outcome of marriage couple’s therapy may be that you move forward as a couple, but it could also lead to you both deciding that separation is best. No matter which outcome awaits, your therapist will be there to help you through it and promote a positive journey forward.

The more you trust your therapist, the easier it is for him or her to help. Naturally, you and your partner may have difficulty being open and honest in the beginning but try your best. The sooner you work through the issues, the sooner you can leave them in the past.

Holding hands

Couple’s therapy is a powerful relationship tool. Many couples report that they noticed positive changes within the first few sessions. Some of the changes reported were that couples felt better equipped to resolve past incidents, identify conflicts and recognize anger and how to work through it. Instead of falling into old patterns, many couples were able to build a closer collaboration.

If you feel that you and your partner may have taken a wrong turn in your relationship, consider couple’s therapy. If you would like more information, consider contacting one of our experienced therapists at [http://jacksonvillecenterforcounseling.com/]