What are the benefits of marriage counseling?
Many of us want to be reassured that what we are about to embark on will be worth it. You research and pull from various resources to find as much information to determine if something is going to give you the best outcome. Reviews are everywhere! You can’t tell me that you aren’t looking up reviews for that new place to eat or that thing you wish to buy. Why would it be any different for marriage counseling?
Unfortunately, many ethics codes for therapists do not allow them to solicit reviews. You may ask where they get them from then. Well, people still fortunately give reviews. However, those reviews don’t always give depth to the benefits or the drawbacks of therapy. So, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I want you to know why marriage counseling is important and beneficial.
7 Benefits of Marriage Counseling
- Marriage counseling increases communication between couples.
- Spouses learn new skills to resolve conflict.
- A husband and wife will enhance their understanding of one another.
- Affection and connection get rekindled.
- The couple increases self-awareness within the relationship.
- A correct understanding of respect and love is received.
- Prevention of long-lasting harm is avoided such as deep resentments and divorce.
Marriage Counseling Increases Communication Between Couples
Most of my clients who are married or in a relationship request help with communication when they first come to see me. The root of their problem usually is not communication, but learning how to communicate is pivotal to resolving their concerns. Many have stopped communicating in healthy ways because of whatever might be driving their conflict. When communication stops or becomes volatile, the trend flows in a negative direction. Getting out of that cycle is very difficult.
Attending marriage counseling has the potential to help. You will be calmer and more well-behaved in front of other people, so getting in a therapist’s office provides the structure that keeps communication calmer than at home. A marriage counselor is trained to see your cycles and systems and pinpoint the points of tension in them. They will help you see where each person is contributing to unhealthy communication and then work with you to build skills like active listening, taking healthy timeouts, and resolving conflict.
Going to marriage therapy provides a 3rd party perspective that is valuable. Counselors are not judgemental and understand better than most people the dynamics between you. They will be able to get you on track with communication quicker than doing it by yourself!
Spouses Learn New Skills to Resolve Conflict
Above we indicated that you would learn new skills in marriage counseling. There are a number of skills that a therapist can teach you that will help your relationship. As stated above, active listening, conflict resolution skills, and learning how to take timeouts in a healthy way are incredibly important to finding the safety you need to be able to communicate about hard things.
Other skills that you could learn are self-control, patience, validation, identifying emotions, stopping irrational thoughts and assumptions, self-focus and awareness, and more. Working with your marriage therapist to understand how you can become a better spouse through building these skills for yourself and in your relationship provides you with more hope for a healthy connection.
Learning new skills is difficult. It takes time, patience, consistency, and practice. Some clients think they can come into counseling and just all of a sudden be great due to just talking to their therapist. This is not the case. Some clients have come to therapy and had a session or two and were able to transform quickly, but most don’t. Marriage is not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be an experience that transforms you into a mature, loving, healthy, and whole person.
A Husband and Wife Will Enhance Their Understanding of One Another
Using the new skills you have built and learning to communicate well will absolutely enhance the potential to understand each other better. Many conflicts in marriage come from misunderstanding one another. I have resolved many issues by just helping a couple understand what the other person felt and meant. Unfortunately, this emboldens the couple to think they are good to go, but the question is if they have learned the skills to keep from misunderstanding each other in the future.
If they have not built the skills to focus on understanding each other through healthy communication methods, they will be back in the counseling office due to another fight. We don’t want that to happen. Marriage counselors work to help you understand how critical it is to know your spouse and take time to listen to them. By doing this and learning how to slow yourself down and put your thoughts and emotions away for a short period, you are better able to receive the correct knowledge to understand your spouse’s feelings, thoughts, and perspectives. This takes time.
Affection and Connection Get Rekindled
Couples who come to marriage counseling are usually struggling with affection and connection. Even married couples who don’t come to counseling are sometimes struggling in this way. Therapy helps a couple to start talking about things they may have not ever discussed or have not talked about in a long time. Just talking about things other than surface-level day-to-day stuff opens the door to the possibility of renewed affection and connection.
Getting on a deeper level with others brings you closer. You understand and know them better. This type of knowing makes you feel safer and allows for more vulnerability. Marriage therapists help spouses work to understand and know each other on a deeper level. They also help the couple refocus on showing and acknowledging the love that the other person has for them. Sometimes we don’t see past the negative. Yet, a therapist has the ability to point out blind spots and truths that you can’t see about your husband or wife.
Couples also learn that positive actions breed positive actions. They see that when they show affection even when they don’t feel good, it has the potential to breed more affection. Sometimes we have to give in order to receive. Things may be a hot mess in our relationship, but when we do the small things that show love to our spouse, especially consistently, our spouse will feel more loved and be more likely to return the favor.
The Couple Increases Self-awareness Within the Relationship
Communication and sharing information naturally increase our knowledge of one another. When spouses come to marriage counseling they are encouraged to talk about things they would not typically discuss. Due to the mediation of the counselor and the boundaries of the counseling session, a couple usually feels more safe to open up. Thus, they share deeper thoughts and meaning than they normally would. Because of this dynamic, spouses explore more of their own beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and concerns with each other.
Through this process, they not only learn about their spouse but also discover more about their own personal struggles and strengths. Many couples that come into our office are unaware of themselves and find this process enlightening. Being in an emotionally safe environment that allows for the exploration of deeper meaning and concerns allows both partners to understand their relationship and their own motives and actions at a much deeper level than before.
A Correct Understanding of Respect and Love Is Received
Many couples come into counseling expressing a concern about their spouse not loving them or they have the feeling of “falling out of love” or they even express that they are not “in love” anymore. Many times, these understandings of the connection between a couple are not helpful. As the counseling process continues, your marriage counselor will help you understand what true love really is. They will also help you understand how these ideas of “in love” or “falling out of love” may be just assumptions that cause you to be negative about the relationship.
Knowing what love is and what it looks like is so important. Also, understanding what each other needs and how we receive and give love can be helpful too. Don’t believe the hype of being “in love.” Marriage is work and love is not just a feeling. It’s an action that you have to work at. Your therapist will help you define love and what you are feeling that makes you think you are falling out of love at this time. The idea is to explore and seek understanding so you can figure out how to heal the relationship and make it as healthy as possible.
Prevention of Long-Lasting Harm Is Avoided Such As Deep Resentments and Divorce
When you attend marriage counseling it can be preventative, especially if you come in sooner than later. We have seen too many couples come in when it is really late in the game. Coming to couples counseling at any point is good and will usually stop the negative progression right away. At the very least you can receive understanding as we stated above.
However, the earlier you come the more likely we can stop potential affairs, broken trust, and major disagreements from becoming hard-to-heal issues. The longer you wait to work on your marriage, the more potential for harm and the longer the process of healing and rebuilding trust might take.
Go to Premarital Counseling to get educated before marriage. Attend marriage conferences to help you stay focused on what is important in your relationship. Best of all would be marriage counseling to have a therapist really assess the health of your relationship and give you tips on how to make it healthy again or keep it healthy if you already are doing well.
If you and your spouse are exploring the possibility of attending marriage counseling, don’t listen to all the naysayers out there. Could couples counseling hurt the relationship? It’s a possibility depending on your therapist. So we do encourage you to find a new therapist and keep trying if the one you are seeing doesn’t fit. Research shows that finding the right fit in a therapist is pivotal to your outcome. The relationship between you and your counselor matters! However, as you can see, there are benefits to marriage counseling. These are not all of the benefits. We only listed a few. Whether you need to get clarity, build connections, or learn some skills, you can improve your relationship and make it healthier.
Now that you know the benefits of marriage counseling, if you decide to find your own couples therapist, be prepared by knowing what questions to ask them. I have written out some that will help you as you get started.