If your relationship with your spouse on the rocks and you’re considering therapy, you might be wondering if it will really help. That’s a fair question. Does marriage counseling work for everyone? Of course not, but it may help you, especially if you don’t wait too long.
Why does marriage counseling work for some couples, and not for others? One of the main reasons that some relationships don’t benefit from professional help is that the couple waited too long to seek help. If the problem in their relationship has gone on so long that one or both partners has totally given up and has their minds set on divorce, there’s a pretty good chance that no therapist will be able to help that relationship.
Another obstacle to counseling success is when one of the spouses has some sort of a drug or alcohol problem, and is unwilling to change. In fact, a general unwillingness to accept any responsibility for problems in the relationship will make it very difficult for a counselor to help. On the other hand, if both spouses are at least willing to try to save the marriage and mature enough to recognize that at least some of the blame might be their own, marriage counseling has a good chance of helping save the relationship.
So how does marriage counseling work anyway? Well, many times, couples are so involved in the problems in their marriage they can’t really see what’s causing them. Marriage conflicts can be very stressful and tend to cloud someone’s thinking. A “neutral observer” has the opportunity to see things without the confusion of the emotional turmoil that is so common in a troubled marriage.
One of the main areas a therapist can help a couple is in developing healthy and effective communication skills. It’s no secret that many problems in a relationship can be traced to communication issues. Teaching a couple to communicate effectively is one of the ways a marriage counselor can help.
Another way a good counselor can help a couple is by helping them improve their conflict resolution skills, which is just a fancy way of saying learning to get along, even when you disagree.When two people live together for any length of time, there’s bound to be some conflict. It is unrealistic to think that you can eliminate conflict from a relationship. A good marriage and family counselor will instead teach a couple healthy ways to resolve their conflicts without damaging their relationship.
These and other skills that are important to creating a healthy happy marriage are developed through practice. One of the benefits of getting help from a trained marriage counselor is that they have been taught techniques and skills designed to strengthen and repair relationships. A good therapist can identify specific steps you can take for your individual situation to improve the areas that are weak in your marriage and to further strengthen those that are already working.
But what if you’re afraid you’ve waited too long? Does marriage counseling work if only one spouse is truly committed to saving the marriage? That really depends on a lot of things. The good news is that many marriages and relationships have been saved through the dedicated efforts of one caring partner. Many times, when the uncooperative spouse sees the effort and change in the other partner, they come around to begin working alongside to restore the relationship.
So, bottom line, does marriage counseling work for everyone. Unfortunately, no. But if you’re willing to make the effort and to be honest with your counselor, your spouse and, most importantly, yourself; you have a good chance of turning things around in your marriage.
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