Marriage Counseling: Knowing When to Go

They say that a relationship is like a plant – you need to nurture it in order for it to grow stronger and form deeper roots. However, there may be times when storms come. During these instances, the damage done may need the intervention of a third party to help restore the health of the relationship. That is the reason why it is beneficial for couples to go for marriage counseling at certain times during their marriage. Your marriage is important enough to take some time to fix any areas that might be broken.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

The danger in waiting to go for marriage counseling occurs when things have gone too far. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Go for help as soon as there are signs of problems.

There are instances when couples just drift apart. They become too busy with the everyday things, raising children or earning a living. Then, they suddenly realize that they are not partners and lovers anymore but simply two people living under the same roof. This should be a wake up call.

In addition, when problems come to a marriage (as they invariably do) and remain unresolved, people sometimes decide to stay married, even when they are unhappy about the situation. Over time, problems, conflicts and personality clashes will result in hardened feelings and unkind actions within the relationship. Negative feelings, words, and behaviors will take their toll on the marriage. The longer you wait to get to a marriage therapist, the more damage your marriage may sustain and the more work must be done to repair these damages.

Going to a Marriage Counselor is not giving up

One thing that often stops people from going to see a marriage counselor is that they feel it is a sure sign that their marriage is in trouble and headed towards divorce. On the contrary, the willingness to go through couples counseling sessions often demonstrates the desire of both parties to find healing and restoration. You don’t go to the doctor only in instances where you are already sick. Sometimes you go for regular check-ups, so you can stay healthy. The same goes for marriage counseling.

A licensed and experienced therapist will help a lot in mapping out the path towards a stronger marriage, something that two people who are emotionally involved may be unable to do by themselves. Strong emotions may be involved, making it impossible for you to sit down and talk about your issues.

So when is a good time to go for counseling? Here are some instances or signs that you may need to attend counseling sessions:

–          You and your partner are about to get married. Counseling is not just for married people! Pre-marital counseling will help engaged couples to learn skills that will help them deal with the challenges of “being one”. Engaged couples sometimes enter into marriage with stars in their eyes, only to realize that their expectations and reality are two different things! Pre-marital counseling is the venue by which these expectations, priorities and opinions are discussed so that the couple comes into a mutual agreement about matters such as how they will handle money, where they will live, how they will “fight” and disagree, how to raise children and so on.

–          You and your partner have conflicts that you can’t seem to resolve. Disagreements with money, how to deal with in-laws, disciplining children are some more common conflicts in a marriage. You may have tried and failed to deal with these conflicts on your own. The way we each deal with these areas is based on our own patterns, fears and personalities and each of us has a little bit different viewpoint.

–          You and your partner are undergoing too much stress. A partner’s infidelity, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or changes in one’s life may shake the foundations of a marriage. You may need to undergo counseling to help process feelings that result from these stressors and outline a plan to deal with these feelings constructively.

–          When one partner is unhappy about the marriage. Even when the other spouse does not feel likewise or doesn’t have a clue, when one partner expresses dissatisfaction about the relationship, it is not just a problem of the one person but of the relationship itself. Couples counseling can help sort out the issues that triggered this dissatisfaction and how each person contributes to it.

–          When couples don’t know how to “fight”. Let’s face it, conflicts will come in a relationship. However, some couples still have not learned how to communicate their way through the conflict. One may get aggressive while the other will choose to withdraw from the fray. One may start flinging out hurtful words that do more damage to the relationship. Still others may just turn a blind eye to a conflict and hope that it goes away. Couples can learn valuable communication and problem-solving techniques to effectively resolve an issue in counseling.

–          When the couple can’t connect emotionally or sexually. Does it feel as if the passion is gone? Or that a partner is not able to share your joys and grief and is somehow disconnected? Again, with counseling, the issues that lie behind these feelings can be brought to light and resolved.

–          You want to learn new relationship skills. This includes learning how to resolve conflict, communicating, setting goals and making evaluations.

Finding a marriage therapist

When you know it’s time to see a marriage therapist, the next step is to consider the therapist you’ll be going to. Do some preliminary research. A great therapist will have experience (especially in the areas you are concerned with). Try to find one that makes you feel comfortable, especially as you’ll be sharing very personal and intimate details about yourself and your relationship.

When you are looking for a marriage therapist in Provo, Utah, you can visit Triston Morgan. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist with years of experience in counseling, particularly with teens and those struggling with substance abuse. He is licensed to practice in the state of Utah. Triston Morgan holds a Master’s Degree and PhD in marriage and family counseling from Loma Linda University and Brigham Young University, respectively.

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