- Is your marriage/relationship more often negative than positive?
- Do you feel indifferent towards your spouse/significant other, or sense that s/he feels indifferent to you?
- Are you looking for something different from your relationship but can’t even define what?
- Do you find yourself dreading being with your spouse/significant other on a regular basis?
- Has your spouse/significant other cheated on you?
- Do you frequently wonder whether your marriage/relationship is going to make it?
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, a “yes” answer to any of these questions is a good indication that it might be time to seek the help of a couples counselor. Marital therapy can do a lot for a couple, whether the relationship is really on the brink or is just has a few rough spots that need smoothing out. The intervention of a trained and objective professional can make a big difference.
Your couples counselor can help you get down to the root of what the problem in your relationship really is. Often a couple will come into the therapy room with complaints about issues that are really don’t get at the heart of the trouble – like how to squeeze the toothpaste, or what one person or the other said last night. In truth the issue likely runs much deeper, and a marriage therapist can help discover what that is.
Another important way the relationship counselor can help is to teach a couple to communicate about a problem more effectively. Frequently when there are important values at stake people can get very emotional. When couples come to counseling and there is already a lot of anger, hurt, and resentment, it is hard for them to speak productively, i.e., without hurling insults and accusations. A competent couples therapist will see to it that a conversation can happen in which the couple can move beyond this level and actually get to discuss and resolve the issues at hand.
Finally, a marriage counselor can offer guidance on how to go forward in the relationship. While it is not the counselor’s place to suggest to a couple that they should or should not break up, the counselor can propose ideas of what kind of things would help a couple make that decision for themselves, and what kind of behaviors might make the result they decide on more or less likely.
Of course, couple counseling is an intense process that cannot be boiled down to a few bulletpoints; nonetheless, this brief outline will hopefully help you think more clearly about whether it’s time for you to seek relationship counseling and what you might get out of it.
If you are thinking about couples counseling or marital therapy, please contact me to find out how I can help you.