The very behavior that drives couples to marriage counseling, the very thing that hurts the most, is typically the very thing that provides the opportunity for growth, healing, and intimacy. Couples choose each other without realizing it, to be able to repeat and work through unresolved, past experiences. These repeated behaviors frequently turn into patterns that at times can make a healthy couple temporarily look very dysfunctional. When understood in couples therapy, these behaviors lead to new healing in the individuals and new levels of connection within the relationship. When couples are able to work through their conflicted issues, the resolution leads to new sources of energy, creativity and intimacy. Unfortunately these conflicts are often misunderstood, ending in divorce, and couples miss the opportunity for healing and growth, for which they chose each other in the first place.
The Goals of Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy
- To learn to understand what you as a couple are trying to do.
- To learn how to listen to yourself and your partner so you can grow in your relationship to become the couple you intended.
- Effective couples counseling is never a “one size fits all” approach of learning behaviors that are not internalized and not part of ones self and fall away as soon as therapy ends.
Initial Questions Couples Frequently Ask:
How do you work differently than other marriage counselors?
- The three of us will take several sessions to get on the same page as to what each of you is seeking in your relationship. If it is clear that you have a shared goal and that I can help you, I will help you come together in the way you are seeking by helping you understand and resolve what has been standing between you.
- Learning to imitate a marriage counselor’s words or skills without developing one’s inner sense of intrinsic skills does not promote permanent changes in the relationship.
- You will learn to talk to each other directly from the heart.
- Only by becoming more aware of yourself and your partner in the relationship do you open up the potential for long-term change and growth.
How do I know whether to see you alone or with my partner?
- The first task in any consultation, individual or conjoint, is to gain a clear, shared understanding of what you as an individual or couple want. If you or your partner are not sure, we may first need to sort that out. Once it is clear what you want together, I can help you by working together with you on your relationship.
Is it me? Her/Him? Or us?
- If you both feel you want the relationship, I would recommend that we sit down together and get a clear picture of what you are both seeking.
After trauma, betrayal, hurt, anger, mistrust, can we ever get back to where we were?
- You don’t want to simply get back to where you were. You know where that ends. You want to gain a deeper understanding of the pain underneath your relationship in the first place so that you can feel and grow together, and get to a place where you have never been before. If you both originally shared a vision of where you wanted to go together, you can still get there.
Frequent Misunderstandings of Couples About Relationships
- The severity of our fights means we have a bad marriage.
- Because we never fight, we have a good marriage.
- If we have a boring relationship, we need to try new things to spice up our relationship.
- Marriage therapy can help every relationship.
- If we are not getting help from marriage therapy, we are failing.