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Often couples wait until their relationship is in trouble before trying marriage counseling. Some spend years of being unhappy before considering it an option. But do you really want to wait until you are ready to throw in the towel on your spouse and your marriage?
I’m a big proponent of therapy as a viable option for anyone who may need a little bit of extra help or new tools to manage the struggles of day to day life with. This is exactly why my husband and I decided to do some counseling/coaching sessions together last month. Our marriage isn’t struggling, but we did want some insight into how to make our marriage work better and communicate with each other more effectively.
This wasn’t the first time that me and my husband attended counseling together. Although we were married in a church in a religious ceremony, I did not want premarital counseling from a pastor because they do not have the training and experience of a licensed therapist or clinical social worker. So we went to a licensed therapist both before and several months after we were married.
Here are five of the benefits that me and my husband have seen from marriage counseling:
An Impartial Sounding Board
Especially after you are married, it can be hard to feel comfortable sharing with friends or family the intimate details of what is going on in your marriage. And most of the time, you shouldn’t be sharing them, due to potential for broken trust with your spouse or side taking on the part of those you share with. A therapist is someone you can share your concerns with the knowledge that what you say never leaves the room. Since they are an individual that is an impartial observer you can count on them to offer insight and advice that is free of any emotional involvement with the situation.
A Different Perspective
Do you feel stuck, or like you and your significant other are butting heads about a certain issue constantly? Counseling offers an opportunity for an outsider’s perspective on what you are dealing with from someone that has has been trained in effective techniques and worked with a number of couples on similar issues. My husband and I have had many light bulb moments in therapy by simply being challenged to look at things another way or having the other’s feelings explained in a way you can understand.
Good marriage counseling is not simply a therapist talking at you or you talking at the therapist. The therapist also serves as a facilitator for encouraging conversation about the concerns between you and your husband. Also, having a counselor observe how you communicate with each other can help them determine how you can communicate in a more effective manner both in and out of therapy and give you suggestions to get you to a place where that is happening.
Provides Applicable Exercises
We have done straight talk marriage counseling before, which consisted of discussion and reflection on topics that concerned us at the time. But this time I decided we should do some coaching that would help us dig deeper into topics which we perhaps hadn’t considered and help us understand each other better.
In January we took the PAIR test with a pair of counselors that are a married couple. The PAIR test is a personality inventory that measures the dynamics between two people and is mostly used with engaged and married couples. It is less of a compatibility test and more of an insight into how you relate to each other and how your personality’s effect your behavior. Beyond discussing the results of the test, we were also given “homework” assignments which helped us define some goals for the future of our marriage. I feel like this helped us dive deeper into what was actually the cause of some of the disconnect we had been experiencing.
Gives You Tools to Use in Real Life
We came away from our recent marriage counseling understanding each other’s personalities better and how they affect how we interact with each other. Our counselors gave us suggestions to use going forward to help us communicate more effectively with each other and support each other in the way each of us needs. In the month since our sessions I feel like we have been more patient with each other because of that new found understanding. We are also working on implementing some of the ideas that they had to balance the difference in our social interaction needs and ways we desire to be supported.
Have you ever tried marriage counseling?