Every marriage has ups and downs. But even storybook marriages can be enhanced by marriage counseling exercises that help couples develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for each other. If you are married and want to renew the excitement you and your partner once felt for each other, a few marriage counseling sessions can give you a new perspective and revive your relationship. If you are contemplating marriage, counseling can help you and your partner maximize your potential as a couple.
Just as couples sometimes have difficulty communicating, the two sides of a brain have different communication styles. It's hard to tell someone else why you feel the way you do when you might not know why yourself. Creative exercises such as writing, drawing, music and development of metaphors can help you tap into the intuitive, creative side of your brain for greater self-understanding and feed this information to the analytical, logical side of your brain for evaluation. In counseling, couples can use these exercises to improve communication and increase understanding.
Physical intimacy in a relationship can bring greater closeness and satisfaction, or it can be a cause of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Marriage counselors often suggest homework to help couples overcome intimacy issues in the relationship, suggesting exercises in sensuality without physical intimacy. A counselor might recommend that couples spend time together touching - giving nonerotic massages, for instance - without physical intimacy. The counselor may recommend that the couple refrain from physical intimacy until the next counseling session. By giving each other sensual pleasure without the expectation of physical intimacy, partners are able to improve the quality of their time together and learn how to pleasure each other, ultimately resulting in more intimate interactions.
Individual attitudes about money and spending habits vary widely. When two people come together in a marital relationship, money can become a source of discord and dispute. On the surface, money is a means of providing for the economic needs of a couple or a family. Under the surface, however, money can be a symbol of security, love, prestige or other emotional factors. Marriage counselors may suggest activities that facilitate the exploration of individual thoughts and feelings about money, leading to greater understanding and a starting point for planning money matters together. The counselor might ask each partner to complete a questionnaire, which all three then discuss together.
Family of Origin
Marriage counselors often map each partner's family of origin, creating two family diagrams, called genograms. Through the development of genograms, couples can increase awareness of the similarities and differences of the families in which they grew up and how early experiences and inherited traits influence each partner's thoughts and actions in the marriage.
- American Psychological Association: Marital Education Programs Help Keep Couples Together
- SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program
- The Dana Foundation: Human Intuition: The Brain Behind the Scenes
- The Couple and Family Therapist's Notebook: Homework, Handouts and Activities for Use in Marital and Family Therapy; Katherine M. Hertlein and Dawn Viers
- Family Evaluation; Michael E. Kerr and Murray Bowen
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