The cliche vision of lounging on a leather sofa and spilling all of your problems to a stranger is how most couples envision the thought of marriage counseling. One of the biggest misconceptions about this form of relationship self-care is that the marriage will be perfect after one session. Like any relationship, a marriage especially takes work. If you are willing to put forward the effort, you shall reap the rewards.
Be Aware of How You Communicate
As recorded by The Huffington Post (link), communication is a huge factor in determining the success of a relationship. There are generally two distinct problems when it comes to communication – lack thereof or to defer. By not talking about feelings or issues, no matter how small they might seem at the time, this is a sure way to hinder the marriage. When you are pushing these problems aside, you will find that they have a way of coming back to haunt you in the future.
Make sure that you are keeping an open mind when you do jump into a heavy conversation. A big mistake is to approach the situation with any preconceived notion. Your partner will be able to sense this, and it could even lead to further arguments. Choosing a time when it is most convenient (physically and emotionally) for both of you to talk will set you up for success. Often, in marriage counseling, this is an easy way to schedule time for couples to sit down and talk. Having the counselor present adds the sense of accountability.
Secrets are another red flag in a marriage. If you find that you are keeping secrets from your partner to eliminate the risk of upsetting them, something must change. It is through the act of being an open book where you will experience that great sense of bonding with your significant other.
Work Towards the Same Goals
During marriage counseling, it is important to realize that the reason you and your partner are there should be the same one – To improve the marriage. When you are working through your problems, it might be easy to play the blame game or to point fingers. Once you get out of this mentality and realize that you both want the same things out of the counseling session, you will probably notice better results.
According to Connections Counseling (who offers marriage counseling in Salt Lake City), the happiness does not only come from reaching goals but from working towards them together. Remember that you are two individuals, and both of you must come to the same conclusion in order to reach happiness. Set specific goals, ones that are detailed and meant to challenge you. If the bar is set too low, you will be creating a false sense of success.
By all means, when you do reach a goal, don’t be afraid to celebrate it! One thing that tends to happen in a marriage is life getting in the way of romance. Take back control and take your significant other out on the town in celebration of completing your goals. This is a simple gesture, but one that will solidify your importance in one another’s lives. You can rest easy knowing that because there are two of you working towards the same things, that there is double the power behind each action.
Switch Up the Perspective
Marriage counselor, Sherry Amatenstein, advises that couples must control their impulses (source). When faced with a troubling issue, it can be easy to get carried away with the “what ifs.” For example, if you suspect that your partner is cheating without any viable evidence, do not let this take over your actions. Couples who treat one another as if they’ve done something wrong without sitting down and having a conversation first are the ones most likely to crumble.
The trust should always be there. It is the basis of any healthy, strong relationship. Of course, there will be some bumps along the way, but it is important to learn how to get back into that trusting place. Instead of assuming how your significant other feels, make it a point to always inquire. This could prove to be surprising because you will be able to see things from the other side, unbiased.
Let your partner speak, and be a good listener. This may sound simple, but it is effective. Taking a step back and allowing the other person to communicate freely is going to ease a lot of the tension that might exist, especially in a therapy setting. Before you can work towards a solution, it is important to see the whole picture.
Remember, if you and your spouse feel that marriage counseling is the best option for your current situation, do not be ashamed. Hundreds of thousands of couples seek counseling all over the globe. There is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself for the sake of a greater marriage.