Feel like your relationship could be better? Stuck in the same circle of problems that you can’t seem to get out of? Thought about marriage counseling but weary about the results? Find out why and how marriage counseling works and how it can help you and your relationship.
The reason marriage counseling is successful for most couples is it provides a neutral place to come and discuss problems, arguments and feelings away from the usual setting. By working with a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), you can work to get to the root of your problems, often by identifying patterns from your family that contribute to your way of thinking and then identifying alternatives that may be more functional to your relationship. LMFT’s are specifically trained in systems therapy to understand how a person’s upbringing and past relationship influences their current behavior. They are also experts at creating solutions that work for couples and families.
Now let’s look at how therapy actually works. It begins with briefly looking at your upbringing. For example, say that in your family your father had multiple affairs and then your parents divorced. Your image of marriage is that affairs provide a way out and that it is an option. You also feel as If you never received good modeling for what a functional relationship looks like. Now, as a result of your upbringing, in your own relationship, you feel worried and jealous of your wife, concerned she is going to cheat on you. No matter how often she reassures you she isn’t going to have an affair you still worry about it. Your jealousy is perceived as controlling to your wife and she eventually begins to pull away, which only makes you more anxious. How can you heal these feelings from your childhood and begin to behave in a way that contributes to your wife turning towards you? How does therapy help?
The solution; Recognizing where the feelings come from can provide powerful insight that can contribute to you controlling yourself and behaving differently. Discussing your upbringing and those feelings with your spouse can provide powerful insight to both of you as to why you behave the way you do. Then, by working together, you can help to establish a new pattern of behavior that will help to change your old feelings. New behaviors help to change feelings. A therapist can help to identify what behaviors specifically need to change and structure how you are going to change it.
A good couple’s therapist never sides with one of the clients. The “marriage or relationship” is seen as the client and the therapist works hard to be neutral and help structure decisions that are in the best interest of the relationship. Often couples cannot see their troubles objectively and sometimes it takes a little as 2 visits for a good therapist to get a couple in a new routine of behavior. Make sure that your couples therapist is structural and gives you insight during the session, provides you with an active plan and gives a homework assignment to help you progress as a couple outside of the sessions.
Marriage counseling has provided success for countless couples throughout history. It is not seen as a sign of weakness but rather a strength that we move forward with solving problems and getting fresh ideas rather than continuing to circle in doing what isn’t working. Smart couples ask for help and don’t repeat old patterns.
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