Deciding to attend marriage counseling can be the first step towards improving, or in some cases, saving a romantic relationship.
Sometimes both parties are having trouble agreeing on whether or not counseling is needed, both are not willing to admit that it may be needed, or there is a great amount of mystery surrounding the subject of counseling. In most cases, the relationship will benefit from couples therapy even if only one partner is initially willing to go.
Do we need counseling?
Every marriage goes through ups and downs. The fact that you are willing to seek help when you have reached a point that you feel is beyond manageable within the relationship means you care about the marriage. Determining whether or not you need professional assistance is a great start.
Some signs you may benefit from couples therapy include frequent arguments or a lack of intimacy. Major life occurrences, a lack of sufficient communication, or deliberately keeping secrets from one another can also be signs that you should seek professional help. You should have guidance for getting reconnected and feeling happy again.
Should we both go to therapy?
Trouble in a marriage can stem from many different areas. When an individual experiences mental disorders, emotional struggles, or battles with some form of addiction, this can create additional strain on the relationship. When a relationship is filled with frequent fighting and a sense of disconnection, partners tend to start playing the blame game and pointing out factors in the other that are believed to be the source of the issues.
Unfortunately, this can create an unhealthy cycle that leads to further issues. A more positive approach is to switch from asking, “Who is to blame?” to asking, “What can I do to better this situation?” This shift is likely why you are here wondering if relationship counseling is right for you.
A marriage counselor can help not only the relationship as a whole but the individual and their personal challenges as well. Learning how an individual’s behavior can affect their own life, as well as the relationship, can be the first step toward working through difficult issues and saving the relationship.
For example, one of the individuals in the marriage may experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, or other mental disorders. Treating these conditions individually along with local couples therapy will also lead to a happier relationship. The reason being is this approach can help the other person gain a greater understanding of what the other family member is experiencing and how to best support them.
What is couples therapy?
“How does therapy work?” is a common question when you are first beginning to consider this pathway. When you are leaning toward taking the next step into therapy, it can be helpful to gain a better understanding of how it works and what to expect. Simply put, marriage counseling, also known as couples therapy, helps couples understand and resolve conflicts to improve their relationship.
A relationship counselor can help two partners gain insight into their relationship, rectify interpersonal conflict, and ultimately lead them down a pathway to restored happiness and peacefulness in the marriage. With today’s technologically advanced society, it should come as no surprise that an option for online counseling exists as well. The convenience of this option allows you to connect with a therapist through live chats and video sessions and has proven to be just as effective as the in-person version.
To prep for your first marriage counseling session, it is important to go in with the right approach. Be willing to listen to things that may be uncomfortable to hear. Be patient as each relationship is unique, and different situations can be resolved quicker than others. You can prepare by making notes in advance on what you want to discuss. Finally, it is also helpful to remember that you should apply what you are learning during your sessions into your daily lives as soon as possible for optimal results.
Should I still go if my partner is hesitant?
Although couples therapy is intended for both partners, there are still benefits to going alone if your partner is hesitant to join you. Attending privately in the first few sessions will allow you to open up, and divulge information freely without censoring yourself. This can actually be helpful to give the counselor a chance to pinpoint potential misunderstandings and misinterpretations that may occur between the partners.
Additionally, one partner willing to do some fine tuning can get the ball rolling in the direction of a happier marriage. Your therapist can assist you in learning better ways to communicate which can positively impact change in the relationship too. In an ideal scenario, when your partners sees you putting in the work to reflect on your own behaviors, they will notice a difference that may encourage them to give it a shot after all. However, if they still choose not to attend, and you end up going your separate ways, then you will at least have the peace of mind knowing you were willing to try everything.
Take the next step
If you are experiencing some of these issues in your marriage, know that you are not alone. If you are unsure of whether couples therapy or solo therapy is right for you, then contact Arkansas Relationship Counseling today for a free consultation.