As a counselor, I often work with married couples who are facing serious rough patches in their relationship. While I am so grateful to help these people work through their issues and grow closer together, the more I couples I see, the more I'm reminded of how there's a major misconception surrounding marriage counseling, which couples need it, and when a couple should go.
Below I've included a few tips on how happy couples can avoid hardships by seeing a marriage counselor BEFORE issues arise--rather than after--to build a stronger and healthier marriage that will last a lifetime.
Most people think marriage counseling is only for couples who are encountering a significant obstacle in their relationship. While this is understandable, it's shortsighted and only paints half the picture of its usefulness. While marriage counseling is certainly helpful during these rough periods, it's also unfortunate to see couples wait so late and let issues fester before they even begin to seek help.
The truth is, marriage counseling is a highly effective tool couples can leverage when things are still “good”. By working on the relationship and deepening their connections early, they are more likely to avoid and withstand conflict that may come later down the road.
Think of marriage counseling like preventative maintenance. With any significant investment in our lives (such as a home or a car for example), we put in the time and effort to preserve the health and value of those investments as long as we possibly can. If we don't, we're setting ourselves up for a costly and heartbreaking failure.
Applying this notion to marriage counseling, this kind of preventative maintenance can help couples learn critical details about each other and catch small issues quickly before they grow into much larger issues that could take a major toll on the relationship.
Here are just a few ways seeing a marriage counselor early can help avoid obstacles down the road:
Couples will understand each other better
Going to marriage counseling early allows couples to gain a deeper understanding about each other's expectations, emotional needs, and personal histories. The more a couple is able to learn about each other in the early stages of the relationship or marriage, the more they can empathize and be the best marriage partners they can be over the long term.
Strengthen communication skills, especially in difficult and/or emotional times
Learning how to communicate in a healthy and respectful way is an essential ingredient to any relationship. However, when things get heated and our emotions take over, it’s easy for those healthy communication skills to go right out the window.
Going to marriage counseling before any difficulties arise can dramatically help with this issue. Seeing a counselor will help teach couples how to navigate difficult conversations or events when they come up and help resolve conflicts on their own without losing their cool.
Be open, honest, and resilient
Getting early help from a marriage counselor can also teach couples how to be more open with their feelings and share more with each other. Research has widely shown that openness and honesty within a relationship leads to much higher rates of satisfaction and longer relationships overall.
When someone can be open and transparent with their partner, it builds trust. Couples who trust each other have an easier time handling relationship obstacles and enduring change than couples who are not open with one another.
Keep the passion alive
When individuals are firmly committed to strengthening their marriage (even when things are better than ever), that sends a clear and highly encouraging message to either partner that their spouse is 100% dedicated, in love, and here to stay. When passionate couples like these hit a roadblock down the road, they are much better equipped to handle and resolve those obstacles themselves, and more likely to reconnect with an even deeper level of commitment to one another.
Pathways Counseling Services has been helping Scottsdale, AZ area couples of all backgrounds gain the essential tools and communication skills needed to help them grow closer in their relationships. If you and your spouse would like to schedule a marriage counseling session with one of Pathways Counseling Services’ counselors, pleaseschedule an appointment here or call (480) 235-1682 and we'll be in touch.