Seeking marriage counseling doesn’t mean you have given up. It means you care enough about your relationship to work at and get outside help when you appear to be at an impasse – that you don’t want matters to worsen and perhaps end in separation or divorce.
You wouldn’t consider it a failure to call a plumber to repair a leaky pipe after you have attempted to do it yourself. You would simply acknowledge that the leak is a more difficult problem, one that requires a professional. So the first thing to do when seeking a counselor is to decide not to view this as a mark of failure. You are salvaging and repairing your marriage.
Marriage counseling and counselors run the gamut from inexperience and no training to a great deal of experience and a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy – and yes, there is such a degree. So when seeking marriage counseling, be sure to ask your counselor for his or her credentials. Also, there are also various competing theories in the field of counseling. Find out what theory or method your counselor follows. If you’re familiar with the different theories, it helps to find a counselor who subscribes to the theory you feel is right for you.
What To Look For In A Counselor
When seeking marriage counseling, it’s important to understand that you need someone trained in dealing with couples. Many counselors were trained to provide therapy or counseling to an individual, not a couple or family group.
Types of Marriage Counseling
There are numerous types of counseling to choose from, and it’s important to have an understanding of what these involve. A few types of counseling methods are listed below. This list is by no means complete, but it will give you a general idea of what to expect.
This may seem obvious – you’re a couple, and you want counseling. However, at its most basic level couples counseling means the counselor will work with both of you at the same time. Some counselors will refuse to work with an individual unless the partner has agreed to join counseling at a later time.
The issues you have in your relationship may be more widespread than just you and your spouse. If you have children, they may need to be part of the counseling process. This is where family counseling comes in.
Imago therapy looks at the weaknesses of the members of a couple. It seeks to discover how one’s partner mirrors those weaknesses. This type of counseling focuses on meeting the needs of the individuals, not on a particular outcome for the relationship.
The Gottman method, developed by Doctor John Gottman in the 1980s, is a type of therapy that aims to increase openness, closeness, and respect between members of a couple.
Your First Counseling Appointment
Before you meet your counselor, you and your partner should prepare a list of questions. You may find that the counselor doesn’t handle issues like yours, or uses an approach you are not comfortable with. He or she may recommend someone more suited to you.
If you feel you and your partner can work with your new counselor, be sure you both understand that your counselor doesn’t work for you. Your counselor isn’t here to show that you are right and your partner is wrong. Instead, your counselor is here to see that individual needs and the needs of the relationship are met. Also, expect to feel hurt at times. Marriage counseling can bring up painful issues. Yet if you have approached a counselor and are prepared to follow through, you are on the path to repairing or strengthening your relationship.