There are many reasons couples consider getting couples counseling. It’s not just for couples whose relationship is on the rocks. It’s also useful for building trust, helping with low self esteem, developing stronger family systems, helping with stress management, addressing conmmunication and conflict and helping couples navigate chronic illness.
If you and your partner are thinking about getting couples counseling for any of these reasons then, you’re in the right place.
You may feel scared that your relationship will fall apart because you’ve tried everything and you’re not sure if counseling or marriage therapy will make any difference.
I understand how you feel
I understand; I’ve been married for eight years. Marriage is fragile. It’s something we have to take care of like a little plant. Too often, we take it for granted assuming that we’ll always feel that top-of-the-world feeling. But like a plant, when a relationship is neglected and isn’t nurtured, it will begin to wilt and eventually die.
The good thing is there are things we can do to breathe new life into relationships. Many of us go to premarital counseling to get help before the marriage starts, but getting help and support during our marriage is just as important.
In this article, I’ll share the benefits of finding someone who specialises in couples therapy sessions and knows the importance of providing marriage counseling, helping couples reconnect and improving relationship satisfaction.
Let’s dive in!
1. Improve communication / Learn communication techniques
Counselors or psychologists are licensed professionals who are trained to listen deeply and find meaning in the words you say and the words you don’t say. As they listen to you as a couple, they will share communication techniques you can use to learn how to talk and listen to your significant other.
Sometimes, we fail to truly hear what our partner is saying to us. And sometimes it’s hard for them to understand us because of the way we communicate with them.
Counseling sessions can give us the tools to learn how to be good listeners and communicators.
2. Stop feeling like roommates
Sometimes marriages can start to feel really routine. They become about paying the bills, doing the chores, taking care of the kids and keeping the house going.
This part of life can be very stressful and if this is all the relationship is about, before you know it, there will be no intimacy and the relationship will be nothing more than two people living in the same place.
Sometimes, just the conversation about what’s happening will be enough for you and your significant other to snap out of it and realise that this isn’t the life you signed up for. Other times, it will take a big wake-up call to jolt the relationship back to life.
The biggest message I hope you take away from this point is that you don’t have to continue feeling the way you feel right now. If you’d like to change this feeling in your relationship, then you can! Knowing this brings hope, and hope is the biggest currency in your relationship.
Hope will help you push through the hard days knowing there’s sunshine on the other side.
3. Bring back the romance
If you can push through the feeling of seeing your spouse as just a roommate, there’s the possibility that the romance can return to the relationship and you can see a boost in your sex life.
Successful relationships address challenges and avoid sweeping them under the rug.
The reality is, sometime during your relationship you may have asked yourself, “How was I ever attracted to this person?”
This confusion can make you wonder how you’ll ever get back to having a romantic relationship.
But often sex and intimacy are not always linked to physical attraction as much as they’re linked to emotional connection.
Things like couples retreats and regular date nights can bring new life to your relationship, along with counseling and sex therapy, which can give you a new perspective and bring back the desire to spark some of the romance that used to exist.
4. See world from another person’s point of view
If you’ve come to the point where you feel like your partner is no longer your lover but just a roommate or a friend, then arguments probably look different. Instead of feeling like you’re on the same side, then you’ll probably feel like you need to defend yourself and your position in each and every argument.
You’ll feel like you’re the one who needs to be right and having this attitude will keep you from ever wanting to see your partner’s point of view.
Couples counseling will give you the permission to stop defending your turf and see the situation from your husband or wife’s point of view. This is one of the many benefits of counseling.
5. Get on the same page
Team work makes the dream work
When my husband and I first got married, we used to say “Same Team” and high five each other. Little did we know that we were going to need to do that and stay on the same team.
When you’ve gotten into the practice of defending yourself and your perspective all the time, it’s hard to see that the person on the other side is really on your team. If you find a counselor who mediates — whether in online therapy or in person — they will help you get on the same page again.
6. Gain a neutral third party
I want you to imagine a friend coming to you with the same problems you’re facing in your relationship. Do you think you’d be able to give them better advice than you’re giving yourself? I’d suggest that you would.
The reason you’d be able to give advice is because you’re not emotionally invested in the problem. One of the benefits of counseling is gaining a neutral person who doesn’t have any skin in the game.
7. Add a coach to your (marriage) team
Have you ever thought about counseling sessions like coaching sessions and the therapist like a good sports or executive coach? Sometimes, we need a good coach to help us navigate challenges in life.
Maybe you need some extra perspective on how to have a good relationship. Maybe your parents weren’t together or you’re surrounded by lots of friends and family who are divorced. Perhaps you haven’t had any marriage role models.
If any of this rings true for you and you don’t have a lot of pictures of successful marriages around you, sometimes, it can be hard to build what you’ve never seen or experienced.
Coaching can help you get there.
Just like any type of coaching, the relationship is valuable whether it’s in person or across a computer. With online counseling, you should expect to be able to have phone sessions, video sessions and even the possibility for unlimited messaging with services like BetterHelp and ReGain.us and Faithful Counseling.
In person, you can expect to meet once a week or once every other week with exercises and guidance — either way the coaching relationship will be valuable.
8. Make the impossible seem possible
Does it ever feel like you’re in a deadlock and your situation will never change? I’ve felt this way before. Sometimes, it’s so hard to see that there’s another possibility on the other side. You just want to quit. You want to give up. You know that divorce or a breakup is just around the corner, and everything seems so impossible.
Maybe in a last-ditch effort, you or your partner suggest couples counseling, but you wonder if it could possibly work.
Having some sessions with a therapist can provide enough light – even if it’s just a tiny stream of light – to make the impossible seem possible again and improve your relationship. One of the best ways to do this is to have a plan.
9. Get a strategy to move forward
Counseling can give you the clarity to come up with a plan.
If you’ve never had counseling before, you’ll be surprised that counselors don’t give you all the answers. Often counsellors like to pull back and let their clients come up with their own solutions. The benefit of having a counselor is having a sounding board to reflect back your thinking to help you see a way forward.
10. Stop hating the other person
Just like love grows, disdain, dislike and hatred grow as well. And then, slowly you grow apart. When relationship issues are left unaddressed, they can snowball out of control.
Negative feelings feed negative feelings. If we don’t find a way to stop them, they can spiral out of control. Without an intentional action, your emotions can take on a life of their own.
Counseling offers the possibility to stop the crazy cycle of negative emotions.
11. Identify the deep issues in your relationship
We don’t often talk about it, but marriage can be dirty business – and not just in the dirty dancing kind of way.
Marriage, and relationships in general, are about getting deep down in the mud with people. They’re about seeing all of someone and loving them anyway.
Sometimes, what we see as the problem isn’t actually the problem, and a trained therapist can see that. They can tell when we’re dealing with the surface stuff and when we’re really having the courage to be vulnerable and go deep and let someone see all of our mess.
Couples counseling (and also individual counseling) can help us with this.
12. Marriage forces you to see yourself as you truly are
There’s no one in the world you’re more honest with than your spouse or your partner. They see the absolute best and worst of you and they reflect that behavior back to you. In this way, marriage is a mirror – it reflects back to you who you truly are, and one of the best lessons to learn in life is about yourself. Self-awareness is key.
13. Learn how to express yourself
Counseling can help you express your emotions and say how you’re feeling. Whether your relationship is argument-free or full of conflict, we can all improve in our ability to express ourselves. After developing a bit of self-awareness, having the ability to express it will be a huge growth step for you.
14. Rebuild legacy / family you didn’t experience
We can create a strong legacy for our children by creating strong family relationships and strong relationship with our partner. When we’re in the middle of marriage or relationship challenges, we think it’s all about ourselves, but marriage and family go hand in hand.
Our children are watching and learning. No matter what you experienced growing up, you can create a new legacy for your children. You can even engage a family therapist to help keep your family structure strong.
15. Create peace in your home and family
If there’s one thing that comes along with relationship problems, it’s arguments. Whether you have all out brawls or you give the silent treatment, arguing can create stress inside of you that creates anxiety and depression and plays with your mental health. Relationship counseling can give you the possibility for peace in your family.
Maybe a long time has gone by since you experienced peace. Peace feels like a cool night breeze on a Sunday afternoon. Peace is like sitting at the beach watching the waves go back and forth as they hit the sand. Peace is…..well, you get it.
Peace is not only good for your family, it’s also good for your well being and your brain health.
16. Hear that you’re not alone and that others are going through the same challenges as you
When you’re in the middle of a struggle, it can feel like you’re all alone and no one understands what you’re going through. Relationship counseling can you give you a bit of perspective to understand that many married couples struggle with some of the same things you’re struggling with. This can happen as your counselor shares their relationship struggles or references other couples (without identifying their names, of course).
Understanding that challenges and conflict are a part of life can help you develop understanding and move forward.
17. Help manage finances better
Money and marriage go together like beans and rice or macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly. As much as we watch movies about people falling in love love and getting married, there’s so much more to the marriage relationship than love.
Being married is like running a small business together. There are many things we have to think about to keep the ship a float.
Differences in money styles, money mindsets and money habits can be some of the biggest relationship killers. According to famed financial planner Dave Ramsey, money is one of the common reasons for relationships to end, second only to infidelity.
Having a neutral third-party on hand to act as a coach and a sounding board can give you a chance to deal (hopefully peacefully) with this often contentious issue.
18. Help heal damage in relationships
Do you remember the saying in school that said, “You’re rubber and I’m glue, whatever you say to me, bounces off of me and sticks to you.”
Words stick and hurt, and our actions damage relationships. Sometimes, when it’s just you and your spouse, it’s hard to find the way to let the damage heal in relationships. Sometimes, it’s because we don’t have the tools to use the right words. Other times, it’s because we don’t know what to say.
Counseling can give us the space to allow healing to take place in our relationships.
19. Teach empathy
One way we can help heal damage in our relationships is to develop empathy – or the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. A counselor can act as a coach and give us the perspective to see things from our spouse or partner’s point of view. Going through this exercise can help us develop empathy.
20. Create space for forgiveness
Forgiveness is key in relationships, and it’s something we all struggle with. While I can’t guarantee that counseling will help you automatically forgive, it may create the space in your heart to forgive.
Do you remember earlier we talked about making the impossible seem possible? Well, this is what creating the space looks like. It’s about making the impossible of forgiving someone look like a possibility again.
21. Remember past and why you got together
It’s so easy to forget your “Why” in relationships. Counseling can help you remember why you got together in the first place.
During your session, your counselor may ask about how you met and what attracted you to your partner. As you revisit some of these memories, you’ll be reminded of how your relationship started and what kept you together before times became more challenging.
22. Re-kindle shared interests
What did you and your spouse enjoy doing before your current challenges started? There’s probably something you all enjoyed doing together but because of all the “stuff” that gets in the way of relationships, you sometimes may feel like you can’t stand the sight of your partner.
There is hope to re-kindle some of the things you used to enjoy and counseling can give you permission to find some of those things again.
23. Show you relationships are living things, fragile and must be cared for
Sometimes we take relationships – marriages and otherwise – for granted. We forget that they are fragile things that need to be cared for. In some ways, they’re like little plants that need to be watered, pruned, fertilized and cared for.
Meeting regularly with a counselor can give you perspective on this.
24. Reconnect spiritually
If your relationship was built on any level of spirituality, counseling can give you the chance to reconnect in this way.
I know for myself within my marriage, if my spouse and I aren’t connecting well, it’s even harder to suggest or even consider connecting spiritually — which is one of the starting points for our relationship.
As we talked about earlier, because counseling creating space for forgiveness and can make the impossible seem possible again, it also provides the option for you to reconnect spiritually as a couple.
25. Understand when it won’t work
It pains me to write this reason because I’m like the kids in The Parent Trap — I always want the relationship to work, but the reality is, some relationships shouldn’t work. Sometimes we hang on too long to toxic relationships. A professional therapist can help you understand when a relationship is no longer healthy and can give you the tools to move forward in a healthy way.
26. Do everything you can
One of my rules is to live life without regret.
If you invest in counseling, you will know that you’ve tried all of your option. You’re feel confident you’ve done everything possible to diagnose the problems and use the tools available to solve the problem.
27. Counseling is for relationships with no major problems too
One of the biggest surprise for people is that counseling can benefit couples who are struggling with issues as well as those who feel like their relationship is problem free.
One way to help couples feel comfortable with each other again is by utilising different types of therapy. Marriage and family therapists are skilled at observing the couple and adapting to the their needs.
Wondering what to expect with couples counseling?
If you’ve made it this far in the article, you may be wondering what you can expect in couples therapy or marriage counseling. If you’ve been to a individual therapy session or two, you’ll notice that the sessions are quite similar. The objectives of the sessions are to help the two of you in gaining insight into the relationship, learn confict management techniques, improve communication and increase relationships satisfaction.
How to choose a couples therapist
When choosing a counselor, you should pick someone who specializes in couples, aligns with your beliefs in some way, has conflict resolution techniques you agree with, uses a therapy technique that you identify with and appeals to both you and your spouse. Another important thing to consider is the cost of therapy. Sometimes, it will be covered by your insurance or healthcare plan and other times, therapists will offer a sliding scale to take into account the varying wage of individuals. If you’re interested in signing up for online couples therapy, you can learn more at ReGain.us.