The average length of first marriages in the US is 8 years while second marriages last on average 10 years. People get into relationships hoping that theirs is a love story that lasts for all time.
Sadly, that isn’t the reality we live in. For most couples, relationship counseling feels like an open admission that their union isn’t perfect.
It‘s often a difficult thing to face more so if you’ve never been to therapy before to understand how the entire process works. Every relationship has ebbs and flows. It takes work and commitment to make it last.
Part of the work involves letting a professional shine a light on areas that might need a bit more effort from both partners. Your relationship doesn’t have to be failing for you to see a couple-therapist.
It might be just what the doctor ordered to help you rekindle the fires of romance in your relationship and save it from becoming another statistic. In this article, we demystify the couples counseling process to help you see why you might need it.
What Is Couples Therapy
Couples therapy is a process where a licensed marriage and family therapist works with couples to help them gain insight into various aspects of their relationship.
These therapists typically have clinical experience to help couples resolve existing points of conflict in a healthy and productive way.
It equips them with the tools necessary to improve the quality of their relationship through a variety of therapeutic interventions. While no two therapists employ the same techniques, all of them generally have the following basic approach.
First, they’ll identify what the specific problem that needs to be addressed is. For instance, the source of conflict in the relationship could stem from internet addiction, sexual dysfunction, jealousy issues brought on by infidelity, etc.
The next step involves the active participation of the therapist in treating the relationship itself. It addresses the role of each participant in alleviating the pain-points of the relationship as a whole as opposed to treating each individual separately.
The therapist then adopts a solution-focused change-oriented series of interventions to improve the relationship. This often involves establishing a clear course of treatment with key deliverables.
Relationship Counseling: The Process
Couples therapy usually starts with some standard interview questions. These typically revolve around the history of the relationship, family background of each partner, values and perhaps their cultural background.
They’ll then help the couple pinpoint what the problem area in their relationship is.
This will form the focus of the treatment. They will then come up with a structure and goals for the treatment phase.
During the treatment phase, a therapist will shed light on some of the relational dynamics that reinforce the problem. They show each partner what role they play in perpetuating that dysfunction.
With that, the couple is then given tools to help them change certain aspects of their behavior and how they interact with each other. They are often assigned tasks to go home and put into practice.
They need to apply what they learn in therapy into their daily interactions. The aim of doing this is to replace old toxic habits with new healthy ones. More often than not, most couples leave therapy having gained the skills necessary to communicate effectively with each other and solve their problems in a more constructive manner.
When to Get Couples Counseling
Many couples often struggle with when to get marriage counseling. Those who aren’t married wonder if they should even go to couples counseling at all.
The truth of the matter is couples therapy is beneficial for any type of relationship regardless of the stage it’s at. Some of the scenarios that may warrant couples counseling include:
- Dealing with chronic health issues
- Death in the family
- New additions to the family unit
- Infidelity in the relationship
- Emotional distance
- Financial difficulties
- Substance abuse
- Coping when your spouse goes into rehab. (You’ll find tools to deal with this on this site).
- Frequent conflict
- Disapproving in-laws
- Gambling addiction issues
Couples counseling can help resolve a current relationship problem or an exacerbation of problems that have built up over time. For others, couples therapy can be like a health check-up every now and then particularly during transitional periods of the relationship.
How to Approach Couples Counseling
When going into the process it’s important to have an open mind. It all begins with you.
You need to take responsibility for your part of the problem if you want relationship counseling to work for you. Control your impulse to react negatively to what your partner says about you.
Listen and really hear what they are trying to communicate with regards to what’s making them unhappy. Resist the urge to yell at your partner or dismiss what they’re saying.
Let the therapist take charge of the whole process. Remember, they’re the experts and you need their help.
That’s why you’re there in the first place. Most of all remember what it is you’re fighting for.
The Bottom Line
When all is said and done, we are all human. We’re full of imperfection no matter how perfect we might think we are.
It’s normal to have conflict in your relationship. That doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.
It just means you need the proper tools to be able to resolve conflicts and any other pressures that your relationship might buckle under. Relationship counseling equips you with these tools for the growth and longevity of your relationship.
Are you finding it hard to keep up with your partner? Read our blog to discover 5 things that are secretly killing your sex drive.