I get a lot of questions about how couples should deal with relationship problems and whether or not it’s worth to go through counselling.
The truth is that the success of relationship counselling depends on a number of factors. In order for counselling to be effective, the couple should be willing to engage in the whole process. The first steps in this process is to accept that previous methods of communication between each other needs improvement and to be willing to ‘pause’ the verbal attack and defend cycle of communication – a verbal cease fire. Unfortunately there is no quick solutions, counselling can be a slow process, to allow past hurts to be healed, rebuild commitment and to regain trust.
The duration also depends on the gravity of your problems as a couple. It is common for marital problems to be going on for years before couples decide to seek the help of a therapist. If negative issues are caught early and ongoing hurt can be prevented from building up, there’s a greater chance your relationship can be saved.
But whether you and your partner are experiencing a major conflict or dealing with trivial matters on a daily basis, know that the quality of your relationship can benefit a lot from counselling.
How can marriage counselling help couples?
Here are some of the ways marriage counselling can help your relationship.
- Have a neutral territory to address difficult issues
Nothing good ever comes out of the “I’m right and you’re wrong” argument. Couples sometimes find it hard to discuss their problems among themselves for fear of being misunderstood and eventually starting a conflict.
Marriage counselling provides couples with a safe, non-judgmental environment where they can express themselves and address problems in their relationship. Therapists work with both parties—they don’t take sides. Talking to a third party will help you make clearer decisions without the emotional trauma that often comes with unhealthy confrontations.
- Couples can express themselves freely
It’s hard to process feelings and emotions if you keep them bottled up inside. My experience with several couples I’ve worked with is that they typically give generic statements to avoid opening any built-up emotions. Marriage counselling gives each party the chance to talk about their own emotions uninhibited, where the therapist encourages each partner to identify their feelings flow and help make sense of them. A therapist gives equal time and attention to both parties.
Once all hidden emotions are out in the open, this can help your partner feel more empathy towards you and have a better understanding of what you’re going through.
- Learn new ways to resolve conflict
Marital problems are caused by different circumstances. It could be that couples are no longer communicating effectively or they lack empathy towards each other. Whatever the reason, a therapist can provide new tools to help you recognise and resolve conflicts better.
Counselling will help you identify toxic patterns in your relationship that you can learn to identify to give way for positive changes. You will learn new ways to have conversations around difficult matters that will not escalating into any regrettable fights. You will learn new skills that will enable you to approach problems as a team and not individually.
- Rebuild trust
When there is betrayal involved, often couples completely lose their ability to trust each other. When trust is devalued, often even lost, this affects the quality of their interactions. Trust takes years to build and seconds to destroy. A therapist works through this carefully, taking tiny, slow steps, which eventually leads to regaining trust and intimacy back into the relationship.
The start of the counselling process can be daunting at first. But you will find that the benefits of therapy are rewarding. Just agreeing to see a therapist is in itself an important step towards creating a stronger relationship. You will realise that simply being willing to work together, to go through even the most difficult stages of therapy, to be honest with each other, and to understand each other’s emotions can solve even your most ingrained problems as a couple.