Anyone who has ever been in psychotherapy to get help for a personal issue knows how vulnerable it can make you feel. Therapy sessions are often emotional as past pain or trauma is revealed as part of the therapeutic process. The therapist gently guides their client through the counseling journey that eventually leads to insights that can be examined as potential causal factors of the presenting issues. Therapy can be as raw as it is powerful—an important tool accessed in the quest to improve one’s life.
Understanding what therapy entails may inhibit some from utilizing this help for marriage problems. One or both of the partners may be intimidated at the thought of exposing their deepest emotions, resentments, and fears to a perfect stranger. They may think that the therapist will pick sides, making judgments that label one as the “problem” spouse. For these reasons, many couples might not access marriage counseling…until they are fully embroiled in a marital crisis.
Marriage counseling is an excellent source of support and guidance for a couple that has seemingly lost their common goals, their joy in each other, their desire for each other, or their emotional connection. The earlier that a couple enters into marriage counseling the better the outcome; wait too late and one partner may have already made the decision to leave the marriage, making counseling an exercise in futility. Early intervention is key, to get ahead of the curve and proactively integrate the very effective tools offered by the therapist into daily marital life.
In marriage counseling, it isn’t the husband and wife who are in counseling, it is the relationship. By segregating the relationship into its own entity therapy becomes about identifying problems about the relationship and then finding ways to solve the relationship’s problems. A skilled therapist knows how to approach the couple from this point of view, immediately putting the couple that might have been prepared for battle, at ease. By eliminating the defensive posturing and turning the couple’s attention toward productive actions that will improve the problem areas in the relationship, the groundwork is then laid for a team effort.
In the early stage of therapy, the couple will be asked to identify what each of them feels is a problem in the marriage. The will describe stress points and areas of conflict, and the resultant feelings of resentment, frustration, disappointment. The therapist will help give them tools to more effectively communicate their emotions. For example, instead of lashing out with “You always [whatever the perceived slight is],” it is less confrontational to phrase your complaint as “It makes me feel belittled when you say [whatever critical comment].” This slight shift in verbiage creates a less combative tone and elicits a more compassionate response.
Carolyn Cole, MA, LMFT, LCPC – 312-809-7017 firstname.lastname@example.org
When I work with a couple, the relationship is the client. I collaborate with you to clarify your goals and break down barriers that prevent you from having the relationship you want. Think of today as the first day of the rest of your relationship–I look forward to getting started with you!
Couples counseling can offer many benefits to a motivated couple who truly wants to make improvements in some aspect, or aspects, of the marriage. Below is a list of 4 key benefits of marriage counseling:
- Restores the common mission of marriage. Daily life can be so all consuming, with parenting responsibilities, demanding work schedules, and day-to-day stressors sapping the life out the relationship that was once centered on their love for each other. It is easy to lose sight of the common mission of one’s marriage with the pandemonium of life distracting the spouses from each other. Marriage counseling can help the couple identify ways to allow more time for each other through new time management strategies and a renewed commitment to meeting the needs of each other as a couple.
- To help the couple navigate through a difficult time. Nothing can stress a marriage like devastating life events, such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, major financial problems, a serious illness in the family, or a family member with a substance use disorder. An objective therapist can help the couple sort out specific emotions and concerns, such as the fears they are experiencing, the context of the marital conflicts, and the anxiety they may be feeling while dealing with the issue. Once defined, the therapist can give the couple specific guidance for resolving the problem, including referrals to professionals related to the issue at hand, which will help take stress off the marriage and restore a sense of control.
- Resolve conflict. No one remains the same person they were on their wedding day. Time tends to shape people over the years, which can sometimes lead to the sense one is living with a stranger. Conflicts arise when people begin to drift apart through newfound hobbies and interests, or changes in core beliefs like religious or political views. But at the core, these are still the same two people who found something so amazing in each other they chose to marry. Marriage counseling can help restore the essence of that initial attraction by showing the couple ways to cultivate new respect for this new version of their partner. The therapist will help the couple gain key insights and tools that will ultimately lead to conflict resolution.
- Restore intimacy. One of the most common casualties of marital strife is the loss of physical and emotional intimacy. There are many different factors that can lead to lack of desire or emotional absence, so the therapist will guide the couple in revealing the underlying issues that have led to lost intimacy. In many cases, at the bottom of decreased physical intimacy is resentment: one spouse feels the other isn’t pulling their weight around the house, or toward a spouse who has acquired a drinking problem, or toward a spouse who seems uninterested in the other’s life. Infidelity may have been the core issue, or boredom with the routine of marriage—all of this will be explored to pave the way for helpful techniques that restore intimacy in the marriage.
PeoplePsych Provides Judgment-Free Couples Counseling
Whether your marriage is in distress due to lack of intimacy, increased acrimony, poor communication or whatever reason, the therapists at Chicago-based PeoplePsych will help you take the important steps to restore your marriage relationship. Our therapists don’t believe in being the judge or arbitrator of your marital dynamic. At PeoplePsych we see marriage counseling from the perspective of the relationship as the client, with no taking sides or judging one spouse or the other. For more information about how we can effectively help improve your marital relationship, please contact PeoplePsych today at (312) 448-7218.