Romantic relationships offer people the opportunity to share a huge portion of their life with someone they really care about. Having the right skills and knowledge to make a fitting choice in a partner is difficult and it should be more than an emotional decision. A majority of people often live with their significant other, have children with them, and financially assist each other as well. A lot is shared within the context of a romantic relationship. However, with all the time shared together, some couples can attest to a feeling that things aren’t quite right within their dynamic. I have also discovered that when couples are dating, they are not skilled at vetting the right partner.

Partnerships aren’t infallible. At the end of the day, we have to remember that multiple people are involved, each entitled to their own emotions. Having differing opinions or views isn’t necessarily the issue per se. It is what makes us who we are. However, when those differences impact the needs and wants of the relationship negatively, we begin to see another story play out. A significant amount of couples struggle with common themes of not being able to compromise and work with one another to find a resolution to the conflict. They are also not fully clear and aware of how their own early life experiences have programmed a blueprint inside of them that gets acted out in their relationship and communication regardless of how much they may be attracted to one another! This is one means by which couples may seek marriage counseling

Your early life experiences play for sure a significant role in who you are attracted to, who you choose to marry, and how you communicate and connect with others. It does not matter how much you love your partner, you will step on each other’s toes, and have collisions in your relationships or marriage unless you become clear about what is causing all that you experience.

First, both individuals involved in the relationship must be open and receptive to healing their relationship. Counseling puts the events of our relationship in context, giving us insight into the perspective of our partner. It can be hard for two people to stop pointing the finger as to who to blame. In the heat of the moment, individuals may express hateful, spiteful words towards one another. Often, any and all interactions within the relationship become less and less. Or, most dialogues exchanged result in a sort of battle royal. The goal of mending those wounds can drift farther and farther away as more unhealthy communication is thrown onto the fire. Some people avoid expressing their hurt while some express their pain by inflicting it on others. Couples’ counseling makes couples aware of how their words and actions truly impact their partner. 

All hope is not lost especially when each person really wants the quality of the relationship to improve. Many people who may be new to marriage counseling express many uncertainties and apprehensions about going. They may wonder to themselves, “How can some stranger fix my marriage when I’ve been in it for years?” People must understand that no external person can fix their relationship. A marriage counselor helps partners to take personal responsibility for the current state of their relationship and their part in it. It’s essentially up to couples to fix their relationship by learning healthy methods of responding to conflict and also preventing it. Thus, it’s incredibly important that couples choose their guidance wisely. To do this, you’ll want to know a few things about finding the right couples therapist.

Candidates for Couples Counseling

If you and your partner are unsure as to whether or not marriage counseling is needed, then the following indicators should help in your assessment. 

  • If you notice there are less intimacy and romance within your relationship, then this can indicate deeper issues within the connection. Unresolved issues usually result in a tense atmosphere. 
  • A lack of empathy and understanding usually makes people misunderstand things or judge prematurely. Counselors walk us through a problem, allowing us to refer to our own reasoning when finding resolve. It is in this controlled environment where each person gains a deeper understanding of their partner. 
  • Counseling can give us clarity over a very complicated situation. Perhaps you or your partner don’t know how to be fully transparent when it comes to sharing your views or thoughts. The counselor acts as a mediator for both people to have a respectful, progressive dialogue. Couples experiencing power struggles are great candidates for counseling. One person may feel as though they are doing more than the other. Thus, roles within the relationship must be discussed so that everyone is on the same page. 
  • Those dealing with infidelity may also find help in counseling as trust is something needing to be rebuilt and transparency must be established. 
  • If you or your partner deal with substance abuse, then you’ll want to ensure that neither of you is enabling those habits. As much as you may love your partner, counseling helps us to learn how to appropriately resolve these matters. 
  • Financial issues are a common dilemma many people face. However, it can interfere greatly when it comes to relationships. A lack of money could translate into individuals feeling inadequate, stressed, anxious, and overall exhausted.
  • Also, if you notice that over the last few months or years, you are growing apart emotionally and keep avoiding each other but neither of you knows how to admit it or discuss this issue. Get help immediately, before it’s too late.

Fundamental Traits to Look For When Seeking a Couples Therapist 

  • A marriage counselor should be unbiased in their views and advice. Everyone should feel that their voice is heard without fearing being labeled. 
  • Make sure that your therapist has the same stance on marriage as you and your significant other. You want to make sure that your goals align with their goals for the relationship. Different points of view can result in different advisory which can lead to a less desirable outcome. So, it’s always great to find a therapist that clearly specified their beliefs, goals, and plan of action. 
  • Your counselor should be easy to talk with. Have a counselor that allows you and your partner to do most of the talking. This kind of therapist will ask questions prompting you to reflect. And, they know when to interject with their best suggestions. 
  • The counselor should respect boundaries. So, if you feel uncomfortable discussing specific topics, it’s best to get a therapist that doesn’t constantly insist or impose anything on you. 
  • Find a marriage counselor that is highly experienced and does more than listen and validate. A quick search of ‘marriage counseling near me’ will likely render you hundreds of options. Meet with them in person and make sure you both agree that the therapist is the right fit for you both. Also, make sure you budget after you find a therapist that has the quality you are looking for. You want to make sure that money isn’t another stressor placed on the relationship. Instead, view any money you spend on marriage counseling as an investment in your relationship. If you want to use your own health insurance, be sure to call your insurance company and get names referred to you who is specialized in marriage therapy.
  • Therapists should have structured counseling sessions where each person is given a fair amount of time to speak. Also, time should be spent on reflective work, trust exercises, and any questions a couple may have throughout the session. 
  • An optimistic personality definitely helps. Yes, your counselor is tasked with being honest. However, it’s also important for them to encourage you and your marriage. Most marital problems that exist are solvable. A therapist shouldn’t try to convince you that you’re wasting your time with your partner or that you two just “aren’t compatible”. Human beings have the innate ability to adapt and evolve. Though, some things may need a little more time, nurturing, and maturing. 
  • They have a vast area of expertise. Not all counselors are suited for marriage counseling. You want to be sure that your counselor has experience working with couples as this is very different from one-on-one therapy. 
  • Your therapist explains their techniques and methodology in a comprehensive manner. Couples should make sure they are comfortable with their therapist’s approach and form of treatment. These techniques may include narrative therapy, the Gottman method, positive psychology, individual therapy, Imago relationship therapy, and emotionally focused couples therapy. Compassion must be demonstrated in each session. Judgmental counselors aren’t ones we feel comfortable letting into our intimate lives. 
  • The therapist must understand that they are simply observing the marriage from the outside and maintain their objectivity. Couples want to be able to confide in their therapist and be completely transparent. The therapist is aware of individual conditions, taking that into mind when providing feedback and methodology. The answers may seem simple when it comes to directing couples in resolving their marital problems. However, your therapist should be able to understand each person and the personal dilemmas that prohibit them from contributing more to the relationship.

Is Couples Therapy Effective?

This depends on your attitude and the quality of the therapist you find. Couples therapy is effective is when you meet regularly, weekly, and consistently, otherwise, it won’t work! After you’ve found a good therapist, make sure you meet weekly. There’s been quite the misconception that couples therapy is a “waste of time” or ineffective. This is actually untrue. The key to couples therapy is to take time to find the right therapist for you. Make sure he/she is highly experienced, ask them what percentage of the practice is with couples, and all the questions that are important to you. Make sure to pay attention to how comfortable you feel with them and in their environment. Marriage counseling is very effective when approached appropriately. This means that you and your partner should find the right couples therapist for you. Also, it’s vital for both parties to want to fix the relationship. Where there is a will, there’s a way.

Marriage counseling that happens to still result in divorce can likely be attributed to attending couples therapy at the last minute. In essence, marriage therapy shouldn’t be used as a lifeline or a last resort. You must attend marital therapy once you start having problems. Do not wait long.

The longer you wait the harder it will get to make good changes and grow closer to each other. There’s a higher probability of reconciliation when marriage counseling is used before any major blowouts or even as a preventative measure for blowouts early on in the relationship. When there’s so much pain exchanged and internalized, more work must be done to revive your partnership. 

Marriage counseling isn’t just for those experiencing an unhealthy relationship. Any couple can benefit from receiving the guidance of a couples therapist. Following these guidelines can help you and your partner to find the right therapist. These individuals are certified and can offer couples more insight into what their counterpart feels, thinks, and perceives. If you’re wanting to reconcile with your partner, avoid divorce, or improve the overall quality of your relationship, then finding the right couples therapist for you is just as important as doing the work.

Marriage is a unique relationship and unlike any other relationship. What is your story today? Are you tired of ongoing communication problems with your spouse and you don’t know how to make things better between you two? Every marriage and every relationship has room for improvement. I can help, but there are no quick fixes in relationships. This doesn’t have to be your story anymore. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, one of my strong expertise is in relationships and couples. I can help you find hope, healing, and restoration for your marriage, call me today!