Seeking help from a marriage counselor is not unlike seeking help from a mechanic. It makes little sense to take your car into the shop a month after it started making a horrific noise. By that time, too much damage may have been done and your engine may be beyond repair.
In much the same way, the effectiveness of couples counseling is directly related to timing. The time to consider marriage counseling is not when you feel you have had enough and cannot go on any longer. I am finding young couples are seeking out counseling earlier than ever. That gives me great hope for the future generations and I applaud their bravery.
Unfortunately, when one partner has already decided to end the relationship, they may use counseling as a “safe space” to drop the news.. This has happened in my office, and indeed I can help, however, there is a better time to seek counseling and find new ways to interact. The age old advice applies – the sooner the better.
When a couple waits too long, habits can become so deeply ingrained that growth even with counseling is very difficult. If a couple has been building up resentment toward one another for many years before seeking help, it will be a long journey of recovery. While counseling is a wonderful way to help couples reconnect and heal, it is not a miracle cure.
When and How Marriage Counseling Can Help
Therapy is obviously most effective if both individuals are committed and want the relationship to work. When both are willing to invest time and energy, therapy can be the catalyst for real and lasting change.
It is also important that couples choose a therapist who’s a good fit. Both spouses need to feel comfortable with the therapist.
So, how exactly can marriage counseling help? In a number of ways:
- Counselors help couples identify ineffective and negative behavioral patterns and give them tools to make adjustments.
- Each partner can gain new insights and perspective into the relationship.
- Tools help couples resolve conflicts with grace and respect so escalation can be avoided.
- Partners can begin to build trust and improve communication.
If you and your spouse decide to try marriage counseling, here are some tips for success:
- Take it seriously. Commit to the work and do it.
- Be open and discuss your true feelings and needs. Don’t hold back. In order for therapy to work, both people have to have the courage to be vulnerable.
- Avoid the blame game. Each person must take responsibility for their part.
- Be realistic about how long it will take before real change begins. While you can begin using tools immediately, healing won’t happen overnight.
If you and your partner are experiencing marital problems, don’t wait to get help. The sooner you do, the more likely your issues can be resolved. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today.