What Marriage Therapy Looks Like
A lot of people are afraid to admit that they need to go to couple’s counseling or marriage therapy. This is largely because they aren’t sure what to expect when they get there. Often they see it as a “cure” for fighting but it is quite a lot more than that. Here are some things you can expect when you undergo marriage therapy.
One of the biggest things your marriage therapist or couple’s counselor is going to have you and your partner work on is your communication. This doesn’t just mean learning how to talk in every day conversation. You will learn how to talk about things that make you uncomfortable things that you need (practically and emotionally) and even how to argue without doing damage to your relationship. You will most likely role-play through a few scenarios with your counselor to learn the difference between a productive and a non-productive conversation. This is probably going to make you feel uncomfortable so be prepared to feel out of your element sometimes.
One of the things you will work on in marriage therapy are your own, independent, issues as well as how to not put those on your partner. Many people practice “projection” and don’t even realize it. Your therapist will teach you how to both recognize when it is being done to you and when you are doing it to others. You will be asked to say some very honest and, often hard to say (and hear) things about your partner and their behaviors in certain situations. Just like with learning to communicate, learning how to stop judging each other is often uncomfortable.
In addition to the harder and more esoteric aspects of being a couple (communicating clearly, etc), a marriage counselor will help you learn to deal with every day and practical matters properly as a team. Learning how to make a budget that you can both live with, for example, is something that you will do in counseling. You might also learn how to better spend your free time as a couple (hint: doing things independently once in a while is healthy). The esoteric can only get you so far. Your counselor will help you learn to apply these things to the ever day aspects of your life as well.
A Quick Warning:
One of the things that often happen when you go through marriage therapy or couple’s counseling is that you decide that you want to help others the same way that you have been helped. This is natural and, if you’re serious, can be a fantastic career choice (or change) to make. Give yourself time to explore the idea thoroughly, including exploring a Christian graduate program (seminary based degrees are often helpful to counselors in this field as a lot of pre-marriage counseling is done to fulfill a church’s requirements). Do not, however, use your new training in place of continuing actual therapy!
There are a lot of reasons to get counseling or marriage therapy. For new couples hoping to get married this counseling can help you figure out how to healthfully handle issues that might come up in your marriage. For people who have been part of a couple or have been married for a while it can help you resolve the issues that already exist in your relationship and learn how to be better partners. Whatever your reasons are, know that taking steps to help yourselves be better partners for each other is always a good thing.
This is a guest post written by R. Wilcox