Seeking help from a marriage counselor is not unlike seeking help from a mechanic. It makes little sense to take your car into the shop a month after it started making a horrific noise. By that time, too much damage may have been done and your engine may be beyond repair.
By the same token, the effectiveness of marriage counseling is directly related not only to the willingness and motivation of both parties to put in the effort, but also to the timing.
The Wrong Time to Consider Marriage Counseling
While couples counseling can offer helpful tools to couples at any stage, there are sometimes it will be less effective than others.
For instance, the time to consider marriage counseling is not when one (or both) people have already thrown in the towel. If you’ve decided to get a divorce already and are just “going through the motions” of coming to counseling, it will stand little hope of helping. Basically, when one or both partners have already decided to end the marriage, they may use counseling as a “safe space” to drop the news on their spouse.
Another time when marriage counseling is most likely not going to be helpful is when one partner is having a romantic affair and doesn’t want to stop. Don’t get me wrong, marriages can be saved after an affair. But that’s the point. The person who had the affair needs to end it and be ready to re-commit to their marriage.
Lastly, marriage counseling isn’t advised when one partner has a pattern of serious physical abuse. When abuse has been ongoing or been really serious, individual therapy should be the first route.
When Marriage Counseling Helps The Most
Couples counseling works the best when both individuals truly want the relationship to work. In fact, both parties should be willing to invest time and energy. When both spouses are invested, marriage counseling can be the catalyst for real and lasting change.
It is also important that couples choose a therapist who’s a good fit. Both spouses must feel comfortable with the therapist for any progress to be made. One partner might do the research by looking online or talking to friends about who they may have used. However, I recommend consulting with your spouse before making a final decision.
How Does Marriage Counseling Help
Your therapist will work with you to develop specific goals for your work together. However, some of the common ways marriage counseling may be able to help include:
- Counselors help couples identify toxic behavioral patterns
- You learn new tools to use in your relationship
- Each partner can gain new insights about themselves and the relationship.
- Tools help couples resolve conflicts with grace
- Learn how to avoid escalation and arguments
- Partners can begin to build trust and improve communication.
Tips for Beginning Marriage Therapy
If you and your spouse decide to try marriage counseling, you will want to get the most out of your time (and monetary) investment. Here are some tips:
- Take it seriously. Be committed to attending every session and completing any homework during the week.
- Be open. If you’ve chosen the right therapist, you should feel free and safe to discuss your true feelings and needs. Don’t hold back. Therapy will be most helpful if each partner is able to be vulnerable.
- Avoid the blame game. Each person must take responsibility for their part. Marriage is a two way street and you’ll get the farthest by assuming you are in this together.
- Be realistic about how long it will take before real change begins. While you can begin using tools immediately, healing won’t happen overnight.
Marriage Counseling in Cincinnati, OH
If you and your partner are experiencing marital problems, don’t wait to get help. The sooner you do, the more likely your issues can be resolved. A skilled therapist can help you navigate the issues you and your spouse are dealing with. Contact me today to learn more about how marriage counseling can help build your relationship before it’s too late.
Other Mental Health Services
While I love helping clients create healthy, lasting relationships, I also provide a variety of other mental health services. In my Cincinnati, OH counseling office, I offer a variety of mental health services. I help clients learn to manage the symptoms of anxiety and I also provide treatment for depression. I also provide counseling for college students and love helping people discover what their career path may be. If you or someone you know is looking for support in any of these areas, contact me today.