Does Marriage Counseling Really Help?
Or, does marriage counseling really help? For sure, marriage counseling is trendy in today’s throwaway society.
Many couples show up for a couple of therapy sessions, listen selectively and decide it’s not working. Then, it’s off to divorce court to dissolve their disposable marriage.
Others might try out six marriage counselors in three years only to decide it’s better or easier to discard the relationship.
In some instances, counseling sticks-and-stays with the couple. They learn and practice communication skills and problem solving techniques. The therapist guides them through positive and negative impacts of ending the relationship.
Of course, the best, most positive outcome is for each spouse to work on their “stuff” and release pent-up negative energy. This type of couple re-visions their marriage with a “clean” slate.
But, does marriage counseling really help?
We do not advocate, neither do we eschew marriage counseling. We do assume the position that only you can save your marriage. This is the collective you meaning both partners. We will show you tools that you can use starting now. What we offer is similar to a 12-step group – it works if you work it, one day at a time.
Ultimately, you are at choice to be counseled or not to be!
In all fairness, an effective marriage counselor can foster a safe and neutral environment where both partners feel comfortable to discuss their issues.
However, you can do it yourself if only you know how!
Now, obviously we cannot know your specific marital challenges. We can assure you the be-all, end-all where marriage success or failure is concerned is communication.
Communicating Effectively with your Spouse
It is unfortunate that men and women simply do not know how to communicate effectively.
For example, two women get together and one of them says, “Let’s talk.” If men could listen in they would get very frustrated. You see, neither of the women have an idea where their dialogue is going or its purpose. Further, they do not care!
Women enjoy the exercise of expressing themselves. Men find their loosey-goosey lack of structure frustrating and confusing. Men prefer an agenda!
Tool #1 – The Couple’s Meeting
Could both of you agree to establish a little ritual where you sit at a table, facing each other and really listen? Call it a couple’s meeting or whatever. Either partner can call a meeting provided they furnish talking points that state 1) what you wish to discuss 2) what you hope to accomplish 3) your expectations.
Let’s also agree that absolutes are out. Beginning a conversation with “you always” or “you never” puts the other person in a defensive posture. Surely you’ve been there.
Better to say, “Honey, I’d like to talk to you about __________. Why don’t you tell me your thoughts and I’ll tell you how I felt. That way, we’ll know how to better handle __________ the next time.
Tool #2 – Active Listening
Active listening is one of the simplest tools that marriage counselors teach. You will be surprised at the depth it brings to your communication skills.
When your spouse is expressing himself, listen attentively. The partner who is expressing him/her self must focus on “I” not “you”.
For example, “I am feeling frustrated because…” “I am hurt because…” “I am angry because…”
Again, no absolutes allowed. The listener and the speaker should not say “you never” or “you always”.
After he/she is finished rephrase what you think he/she said and repeat it back to him/her.
It’s important not to include your point of view or defensive responses. Just repeat in your own words what your spouse said.
The final step is learning to validate and honor the other person’s feelings.
Tip: Try a mental role reversal and examine how you would feel in their shoes.
The validation step is the most difficult, but most rewarding.
Note: Active listening is intense. After about five minutes, the listener’s attention begins to wander. The speaker should strive to keep their venting at five minutes or less.
Does Marriage Counseling Really Help as a Last Resort?
Possibly. Maybe. We don’t know. Your level or readiness to be counseled has much to do with your level of success.
The majority of couples who seek marriage counseling have in essence reached the last house on the block before divorce court.
If you’ve got people depending on you, a couple of kids, the family dog, elderly parents and so forth, counseling as a last-ditch effort could work. If love is still alive between you, professional guidance could work.
Many people have been burned by conventional marriage counseling. Some couples have healed their marriage and built a stronger more passionate relationship. Do your marriage a huge a favor and examine all your options.
Thank you for visiting Help Me Save My Marriage at MarriageMaterial.Org.