For many today, navigating the relational landscape of a marriage can be slightly taxing or confusing.
This is not to say that marriage is not a good thing. This is just saying that any good thing requires a degree of work and effort in order to blossom. Relationships and marriage are no different in this respect.
Why Marriage Counseling?
Sometimes, a couple might feel that a little mediation could help them come to grips with whatever they are facing relationally.
It is at such times that people seek professional marriage counseling. If you have decided to enter or take up marriage or couples counseling or therapy, you’re probably already on this road. Make no mistake, this is a good thing!
Guaranteeing Success and Effectiveness
There is no question about Marriage Counseling being an effective tool in working through your relational challenges within a marriage. That being said, the support and mediation provided by your respective counselor or therapist will be limited to fifty-minute or 90 minute slots one or more times a week.
The rest of the time, you’re on your own and it is on you to take what you gain through counseling and extend it to your day to day existence.
5 Things You Must Do
This is not simply paying your therapist fee and sitting through a session. This means that you actively make the personal internal decision to make both your therapy and your process a priority.
Commitment means being regular. It means making the space for therapy, it means not having your partner drag you out for sessions but to be proactive about it yourself.
Further, commitment also means—as we mentioned before—taking the skills, techniques and information you gain in session and applying them to your everyday life. Last but not least, commitment means not bailing on your process when it gets tough. Being committed will help you maintain consistency and get more out of your counseling.
Open Head Open Heart
The next thing you need to do is remain open during your therapy or counseling sessions. Understand that your counselor or therapist is a neutral entity. They have no agenda, nor are they in cahoots with your partner!
Approach your sessions and whatever comes up within, with an open mind and an open heart. Try not to be defensive or closed off as this will only make the work you are doing harder. Keeping an open mind and heart allow for more positive internal changes to be incited within you and your relationship.
Accept Your Blind Spots
Blind spots are tough to work with, regardless of if it is in couples counseling or individual therapy.
The reason for this is that the aspects of ourselves we are blind to can often be things we do not want to connect with. This is because among other things, connecting with them is emotionally taxing or exhausting.
The thing about connecting with and accepting your blind spots when highlighted or pointed out is that it allows us the space to work with the problem in question. You cannot proceed to fix what you do not accept exists to begin with! Be gracious when called out as this will take your process a long way!
Keep at It
Remember that positive change and relational improvement are not things that are linear. Sometimes you take four steps forwards only to take two steps backwards. This does not mean that your counseling, process or self work is ineffective or inadequate.
It simply means that you’re going to have to be patient, stay committed and push forward. Knowing positive change takes time and keeping at it will over a period produce the results you’re looking for. If you give up, it’s back to square one!
Remember, it always takes two to tango. Though dysfunction perceived in your relationship might feel like it’s more about the others and less about you, this is not how things really work. It always helps to take full ownership of your part as well as agency in all matters pertaining to the relationship.
Taking ownership for your stuff allows you to better process your part and personal contribution to the dysfunction. If you and your partner can work on the collective while continuing to hold personal responsibility and work on your own stuff, it will serve to enhance the positive effects of the counseling you receive!
There are numerous other things that can help facilitate your process and make that counseling work. These include but are not restricted to how you communicate, the time you spend processing and how well you take criticism.
Those of you who were on the fence about marriage counseling and couples therapy but now feel it might be a good idea have some options.
If you’re looking for a qualified and professional therapist in Palo Alto who specializes in relationship and couple counseling also offering therapy for anxiety and depression among other emotional distresses, you’re in luck! Check out how we can help or feel free to reach out to us for support or information!