Marriage counseling is a service for couples who wish to reconnect during difficult times, who have made the decision to remain together or to work on communication-building techniques. Marriage counseling, for all intents and purposes, is a product that a couple must buy together. A couple should consider several facts about marriage counseling prior to embarking on the counseling process.
The Role of the Counselor
Counselors are sometimes thought of as experts, tie breakers and even judges by clients; in reality, a counselor is an objective guide trained to help couples solve their issues. By observing partners' interaction with each other, a marriage counselor provides a neutral view of the relationship and may be able to pinpoint problem behaviors in the marriage while providing the partners with tools to change those behaviors.
Willingness to Change
For marriage counseling to be effective, both partners must be willing to accept each others' faults and make changes in their behaviors. Because both you and your spouse contribute to every aspect of your relationship, you both bear responsibility for the current state of the relationship. If your spouse is unwilling to attend or participate in marriage counseling, it may be worth meeting with a counselor on your own. Although this can be difficult, the counselor can assist you in identifying your roles and responsibilities in your marriage.
Just as everyone has different personalities, counselors have different styles of counseling. There are dozens of schools of thought in the counseling profession, and most counselors adhere to an amalgam of styles. Because each counselor is different, you might not connect with one counselor as well as you might with another. It is also possible that you may connect more with your counselor than your spouse does, or vice versa. The counseling process usually starts off with one to two sessions to determine if you and your counselor are a good match for each other prior to continuing with more in-depth sessions.
Rome was not built in a day, nor was your relationship. One to two counseling sessions will not bring to light the source of your concerns. Counseling requires a time commitment from both you and your spouse, and in some instances may require both couple and individual counseling sessions.
Although some couples may consider attending the counseling sessions the most important task at hand, the majority of the work on your relationship will happen in between counseling sessions. Your counselor will provide you with tools, instructions and readings - homework - that will help you and your spouse communicate with each other in between sessions. Remember, you will see your counselor for only a few hours per month, whereas you will spend days and weeks at home with your spouse.