Marriage counseling is a tool for strengthening and rebuilding a married couple’s relationship. It specifically works within the context of a marriage and, in addition to addressing specific issues, bolsters each partner’s skills in problem-solving and communication. Common issues that might prompt a couple to seek marriage counseling include substance use, anger issues, parenting styles, financial concerns, barriers to intimacy, communication issues and infidelity.
Keep in mind, though, that marriage counseling is not reserved only for those who are experiencing marital issues. Many married couples pursue counseling together in order to feel more connected, improve their emotional and physical intimacy and learn how to be a better partner to one another on a daily basis.
Do I need marriage counseling?
Marriage counseling benefits not only your relationship as a whole but you and your spouse individually. Even if you don’t think you need marriage counseling; maybe you rarely fight or already feel like you have strong communication skills, consider exploring what marriage counseling can offer you and your spouse.
Whether you want to solve specific issues or just tap more deeply into your relationship, here are some reasons to consider marriage counseling:
It can help you improve your communication
Communicating is tough. We don’t always say the right thing, and it is all too easy to say something we don’t mean in the heat of the moment. While fighting isn’t ideal, marriage counseling can help you learn to fight in a productive and healthy way. It gives each partner the opportunity to share where they see gaps in communication, promoting one another to truly listen to what the other is saying and implementing improvements.
Communication skills aren’t just verbal. Marriage counseling can help couples learn to express themselves physically and emotionally to bolster and strengthen their intimacy, and it can help work through any issues like criticism or feelings of resentment.
It can help you establish healthy boundaries
Boundaries are important in any marriage, and just because two partners love each other doesn’t mean that they can’t cross one another’s boundaries. Marriage counseling can help couples agree on expectations of one another and of the relationship, or if they cannot be agreed upon, then understanding why or learning how to compromise. This is important because, if partners have disparate expectations of how the other person and the relationship will serve them, it can lead to pushing boundaries or even resentment. One partner, for example, may come home every night and unload the stress of their day, whereas the second partner is uncomfortable with this because it creates an emotional burden for them. Marriage counseling can help clearly define these boundaries while helping to establish coping tools on individual and relationship levels.
It gives you a space to talk things out
Marriage counseling, and by extension, marriage counselors, are meant to serve as a safe and neutral space for you to work on your marriage. You and your partner will not be judged, and you are free to discuss anything you need concerning your marriage. You can address tough issues that you might otherwise feel uncomfortable discussing, like a recent lack of intimacy. Marriage counseling is also the place to get to the root cause of recurring issues in your marriage.
It can help you work through stressful or traumatic events together as a unit
Couples may seek marriage counseling not because there is a specific issue in their marriage but because they are working through difficult life challenges as a couple. Loss of employment, financial difficulties, chronic illness, death in the family and loss of a child are all extremely stressful and sometimes traumatic events that can impact a marriage.
Marriage counseling can also help work through stressful events that are related to the marriage, like infidelity, separation or a period of being long-distance.
It is important for couples to continue to tend to their marriage in the face of adversity.
It can help you grow as an individual
Marriage counseling is just as beneficial to each partner individually as it is to the marriage as a whole. It helps each person to gain confidence individually and improve facets of oneself in order to be a better partner. Marriage counseling gives each partner space to share their perspectives while learning skills and tools for communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, forgiveness, anger management, intimacy and mutual support. If a couple is concerned their relationship is codependent, marriage counseling can teach the couple how to thrive individually.
It can remind you of why you got married in the first place
Marriage counseling can help to highlight the positive aspects of your relationship, especially those you would like to see more of. Open and honest communication will help reveal the good as much as the not-so-good during marriage counseling. Throughout your exercises in marriage counseling, you will reaffirm your commitment to one another and make a sincere effort to strengthen your marriage.
Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP can offer marriage counseling through your employer’s employee assistance program. Reach out today at 800-543-5080 to learn more.