Also called “couples counseling,” marriage counseling works with couples to identify conflicts and seek amicable and effective responses and solutions to them for the objective of improving the quality of the relationship. An associated effect of marriage counseling is to strengthen and rebuild the relationship. If for some reason that is not possible in the case of irreconcilable differences, then avenues towards an amicable separation of the relationship may be the answer.
Typically, marriage counseling may be relatively short-term. Usually, it involves both partners working with the assistance and guidance of a trained psychologist. However, sometimes, it involves only one partner working with the psychologist. Circumstances in the troubled relationship and the cooperation of the partners in the counseling process determine how a treatment plan is created and carried out.
While the term “marriage counseling” suggests that the two partners be in an established married relationship, that is not the case for this kind of counseling. Sexual orientation and the legal or extra-legal status of the two partners do not affect the need for or involvement in “marriage counseling.” It is couples counseling regardless of the gender identities or marital circumstances of the two partners in a relationship.
Why start marriage counseling?
While the experience of various kinds of troubles or problems in the relationship is the first thing that usually comes to mind when one thinks of marriage counseling, nevertheless, some couples enter counseling for the purpose of developing and enriching their relationship. Regardless of the situation or circumstances, the final objective of marriage counseling is for the two partners to develop a better understanding of each other and of character and quality of their participation in the relationship. Marriage counseling is also relevant to couples planning to get married, to foresee and work out in advance relevant problems that might arise later on.
In regard to troubles or problems in the relationship, there are a variety of issues which can be the initiating subjects for marriage counseling:
- Problems in communicating
- Problems in sexual relations
- Problems associated with child rearing
- Problems that arise in blended families
- The effects of substance abuse on relationships
- Domestic abuse
- Problems with infidelity
- Problems with anger and its effects and results
What you can expect in and from marriage counseling
Counseling will usually involve the two partners meeting on a regular basis with the psychologist for the purpose of identifying problems, discovering motivations and the genesis of the problems, the expression of behavior relating to the problems, and the pursuit of approaches to the resolution of the problems. Associated with these major elements of the therapeutic situation, the psychologist will suggest various kinds of skills in response and behavior to apply by one or both participants in the relationship.
The marriage counseling process provides for various skills applicable in approaching and dealing with problems which arise between partners.
Marriage counseling typically brings couples or partners together for joint therapy sessions. Working with a therapist, you’ll learn skills to solidify your relationship, such as: techniques for open communications, problem-solving techniques, recognition of the sources of problems and “short-ciruiting” of negative behaviors and their exchange for more positive responses and behaviors, and how to discuss problems.
The process involves the analysis of the basic elements of the relationship to identify its strong points along with addressing how to encounter and deal with its weak points.
The marriage counseling process requires the supervision, mediation, and input of a trained psychologist marriage counselor. Counseling may take place for short periods of time or longer depending on the character of the problems and the character of the two partner-participants. In any case, marriage counseling is a positive approach to problems involved with partners in relationships, so it should be considered as a major alternative to separation or divorce.