There are many reasons people seek marriage counseling, usually it is that the problems have gotten so uncomfortable in their current situation that they just want the problems to stop. Sometimes they come to therapy to pacify the other partner, or as a last step before throwing in the towel and ending the marriage because things have gotten to be so difficult.
Really people are asking, “Can we make this marriage work?” Or “Is our marriage over?” There are some who are seeking couples counseling because because their marriage is mostly good, but want some small improvements, although this is less common. All are good reasons for seeking help.
Some people think that marriage counseling will be more of the same, with a therapist in the room telling them who is right and who is wrong, or worse yet; who is the winner and who is the loser. They might worry that all of the arguing and nagging that got them there in the first place will go on in front of the marriage counselor. On the contrary, marriage counseling works well because it is exactly the opposite.
As couples move through the steps of the counseling process which involves talking, listening and uncovering communication patterns, this eventually reveals the underlying emotions. These underlying emotions have been covered up by the defensiveness of hurt feelings, disconnection, loneliness, frustration, hurt, misunderstanding and being unheard and ignored. And just generally feeling unimportant and not cared for by the other.
Marital therapy gives couples the opportunity to hear their loved one in a brand new way. Once a person feels less defensive because they are being heard, they can then open themselves up to identify and understand their own contributions to the problems in the marriage. They discover things about themselves, and their partner that they never knew previously.
Once couples start really hearing each other in session, then they can start applying this to their everyday lives. The couple starts noticing how things feel when they open up to each other and can start to ask for love and support more directly. The result is often deep connection and romance.
Each marriage and relationship is different. Their is no one right way to do things, the key is to be able to negotiate it with your partner. A marriage counselor cannot tell you what is right or wrong for you. Only you and your partner can create it in the way that makes you feel close. Life can get rocky, emotional and turbulent, research indicates that people that are married and in long term relationships are healthier both physically and emotionally. Marriage counseling is well worth the feelings of connection and romance that can come back.
You might just learn something about yourself and your loved one in the process.