Couples Therapy: Getting the Most Out of It

Couples undergo rough patches time and time again. And sometimes, it would be helpful for couples to go into Utah marriage therapy. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a bit of outside help to keep the marriage and the family in one piece and even stronger throughout the years.

This is not to say that going into couples counseling is a foolproof solution that will ensure that you keep the marriage intact. There are times when the damage may be too much for counseling to help salvage the marriage. One or both spouses may have gone “over the edge” and have already emotionally given up on the relationship. Sometimes the attitudes brought into the counseling room prevent the couple from getting the most out of the sessions.

If you are thinking of getting into marriage counseling in Utah, come prepared to get the most out of your therapy time, not just to get your money’s worth but to ensure that you and your spouse enjoy the full benefits of the counseling. It can be quite a challenge and you will have to be ready to work at the therapy sessions. Here are some of the things that can help you take the most advantage out of marriage counseling:

  1. Accept that there is a problem that needs to be resolved. There is the temptation to go into denial. It is easier to ignore a problem and not act on it. In a marriage, sometimes only one partner thinks that there is a problem while the other is contented with the status quo. It takes work but if one partner thinks there is a problem, chances are, there is a problem. Getting into couples therapy with the realization that you are there because a problem needs to be solved will actually speed things up since you can go straight into identifying the problem and discussing solutions and tools you can use to deal with it.
  2. Come prepared. Before the sessions, it would be best if you and your spouse discuss the problem areas you want to focus on. Identify your objectives and make a list of possible questions and thoughts you can discuss during the session.  Some areas to discuss include: what you expect to get out of the sessions, what kind of marriage you want to have, what are your expectations of your partner and yourself, what are the things that bother you about the relationship. Be ready to ask (and be asked) tough questions as you try to discover the root causes of the problems you and your spouse face.
  3. Be honest. Therapy is not about “putting your best face forward”. It is about being candid about your feelings, your behaviors and your opinions. Your therapist (no matter how good he or she is) cannot help you when you are not fully honest. Of course, it can be difficult to talk plainly about something that may be hurtful or embarrassing to you, but remember, your therapist is bound by rules of confidentiality and cannot repeat whatever is discussed in the sessions.
  4. Be fully engaged. You are there to listen and talk. Be involved in the sessions and don’t allow your mind to wander off. Share your thoughts and ask your questions.
  5. Don’t make it about the here and now. You may be inclined to talk about your fight the morning of the therapy session or to what’s on your mind just now. Focus on the root causes of the problem, on the context of what causes these fights and arguments.
  6. Think win-win. Therapy is not about pointing out that the other party is wrong. It is about working together to strengthen your relationship as a couple. There will even be a time when you have to admit that you are part of the problem and be ready to change. As you and your partner figure out ways for you to both “win” by having a stronger relationship, you are able to resolve issues faster and easier.
  7. Be ready to change yourself. Remember, marriage is a partnership – what you do and are will have an impact on your spouse and vice versa. This means that the cracks in your union are not just the fault of the other partner. Be ready to make changes in yourself, rather than expect your partner to do the changing. You may need to change how you respond to the issue and how you relate to your spouse. Be ready to become a better partner for your spouse; in such a way, you can have a positive (and greater) impact on your relationship. This is saying to your partner that the marriage is worth making adjustments for.
  8. Follow it up. Sometimes the Provo marriage counselor will give you “assignments” or suggest action points you can try. This may have to do with your behavior, with your lifestyle and who you want to be. To do this more effectively, you should pay attention to what is said in the sessions and reflect on these in between sessions. Try out the new ideas being discussed during the sessions and see how well they apply to your situation and be ready to discuss the results in the next session.
  9. Be regular. For couples counseling to be effective, you need to work at it over a consistent period of time. It’s not an on again, off again affair. Regular sessions will help you and your spouse track progress and identify how certain changes in your behavior have affected the relationship.
  10. Be patient. Therapy is not some magic wand you wave over your marriage and think that it will be okay. As you are on a journey towards discovering yourself and your partner and towards learning new behaviors and mindsets, you and your spouse may make mistakes. You may also need time to adjust. Be patient with yourself and your spouse.

Marriage therapy is very helpful in resolving conflicts in a marriage. But it also needs a lot of work from your end. The marriage therapist is there to guide you through the road towards a healthy relationship, but you and your spouse will be the ones doing the discovering (and the changing).

If you are in the Provo, Utah area, you can consider getting help from Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan has had extensive experience in helping couples. He holds a Ph.D and a license to practice marriage and family therapy in Utah. He is committed to helping couples work their way through the muddle of conflicts and into a stronger and more fulfilling relationships.


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