Like any relationship, marriage is hard. It’s a unique commitment that requires plenty of love, dedication, empathy, happiness—and above all, teamwork—to successfully thrive. So, if you or your partner (or both) are feeling stuck, angry, afraid, or downright frustrated with the marriage, how do you know if marriage counseling can help?
Below we’ve listed four key ways marriage counseling may be able to help couples strengthen their connections together and begin repairing the issues that continue to weigh on the relationship.
Sometimes a shift in perspective can make a significant difference in helping couples recenter themselves and finally begin to heal. Often couples find themselves deeply entrenched in their own corners of the story, pointing the finger and waiting for the other person to change so the relationship can finally fix itself. Rarely is that a healthy tactic, nor does it usually work.
Instead, marriage counseling can help couples open their minds and help each other understand the core issues that regularly contribute to the strains on the relationship. Communicating with one another from a more grounded and empathetic position can give both parties room to re-calibrate and understand how their own behavior may negatively affect their partner—and what they can do to help fix it.
Not knowing how to talk or respond to your partner can contribute to so many issues and obstacles within a relationship. Rather than continue ridiculing or blaming the other for their actions or behavior, however, marriage counseling can help couples avoid the specific patterns and/or triggers that traditionally lead to conflict and replace them with healthier, more productive patterns of communication instead.
With the help of an intermediary source (the counselor) to provide insight and feedback in a safe, judgment-free space, couples can continue learning about one another and work on solving communications issues together as a couple rather than try to figure them out on their own.
In therapy, it’s completely normal to focus on the negative areas in one’s relationship and work toward removing those obstacles to improve it. Naturally, it just makes sense. However, just as it’s important to work on improving the negativities, it’s also an equally good idea for couples to focus on the things that actively bring them joy and happiness as a couple.
Choosing positivity helps remind couples of the strengths that brought them together and made them fall in love in the first place. When a couple makes the effort to regularly praise one another and focus on the things that have brought them closer together in the past, it can actually help shift the narrative of the relationship and bring the couple closer together as they continue to work on repairing the marriage.
Being emotionally available and communicative is a key component of any successful marriage. If one or both spouses has trouble communicating his/her needs, or grows distant during conflict, it can be extremely difficult to make the emotional connections needed to begin taking healthy steps forward together.
Therapists can help those individuals open themselves up and be vulnerable with their emotions, with the intention to bridge any gaps that might cause disconnections in the relationship—even if it means pushing that person outside his or her comfort zone. At the end of the day, a marriage is built on trust, so a marriage counselor’s goal is to deepen the emotional connections between spouses as much as possible for that trust to grow and flourish.
Marriage counseling isn’t a perfect fit for every relationship, especially if abuse is a part of it. If you are currently in (or feel you might be in) an abusive relationship of any kind, removing yourself from the abuse is the absolute priority—not the marriage. A licensed counselor can help support you and connect you with the appropriate community resources.
Pathways Counseling Services, a Scottsdale Arizona-based counseling practice, is dedicated to helping couples of all backgrounds and situations work through their issues and start living a happier, healthier life together. If you and/or your spouse are relatively local to the Scottsdale area and are interested in a marriage counseling session, we’re here to talk. Give us a call at (480) 235-1682 or schedule an appointment here and we’ll be in touch.