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It’s no secret that successful marriages can be hard work, and it’s completely normal for couples to encounter rough water at times throughout the marriage. In fact, it’s completely inevitable. There will come a time when disagreements and differences cannot be resolved between a couple, so seeking outside counsel is important in saving the marriage. It takes extreme bravery to walk into a strangers office and divulge some of your deepest, darkest secrets, and the mere thought of doing so can make one weary. If you feel that marriage counseling is your last resort, here are some points to consider for both yourself and your partner to ensure that you’re both getting the most out of your time, effort and money!
1. Finding a Counselor
Finding the appropriate counselor is very important. It’s similar to finding the right doctor for a medical condition, so it’s important to find a specialist. Don’t be scared or embarrassed to ask around. Check out references and make sure to find someone with whom you feel like you can trust and will be able to completely open up to. Once you have narrowed it down to a few potential counselors, request a meeting to ensure that both you and your spouse will be compatible with them. Counseling works best when both individuals feel good about the choice they made when selecting a therapist. It’s important to keep looking for the right counselor and to make sure that you find a therapist that genuinely takes an interest in your relationship.
2. Acknowledge that a Problem Exists
It’s not uncommon for one or both individuals within a marriage to deny that there is something wrong. One of the most common mistakes that couples make when entering into marriage counseling is that they expect their spouse to change. Individuals who enter into counseling with this mentality of their spouse being in the wrong tend to collect evidence that shows the therapist that their spouse is in the wrong. Instead of being counterproductive, think about what you are willing to change. Make it a point to focus on yourself and try to visualize the changes you are willing to make.
3. Be Honest
It’s important for both spouses to put everything out on the table and to be honest during counseling. It is not beneficial to lie to a therapist as they have probably heard similar stories and they aren’t interested in your unwarranted attempts to “paint a pretty picture” of the marriage. Talking openly in regards to difficult and embarrassing subjects doesn’t come easily, but keep in mind that confidentiality agreements are in place preventing therapists from disclosing any information regarding you and the sessions.
4. Stick with It
Undeniably, marriage counseling will be difficult and some feelings will be hurt along the way, but it’s important to stick with it. It’s important to understand that change does not happen overnight, but rather takes time and effort from each spouse. Together with a counselor and with the efforts contributed by both husband and wife, significant changes can be made. If you give up on counseling after a few sessions, then you are sure to be disappointed.
It’s also imperative that you work collaboratively with your counselor by asking for feedback on how you’re progressing through the sessions. Be honest with him or her and know when to ask for more time if you need it. Don’t be frightened to let your counselor know if things are not working. You need to feel a sense of collaboration and teamwork with the counselor, because, after all, your marriage is at stake.
6. Consider Change and Compromise
A willingness to make necessary changes in how you each act with each other, especially as it pertains to your marriage, will take you far in the counseling process. By making compromises and admitting to wrongs, you’re announcing that “you’re worth it”. You’re proclaiming that your marriage is worth it, and you’re willing to meet your spouse half way. When you admit to your wrongs and make compromises, then a plan can be set in place to help the marriage.
What’s most important to remember is that working on your marriage is one of your greatest tasks in life and an incredible opportunity for growth for you both. You owe it to yourself and to each other that you get the absolute most you can from marriage counseling because so much time, money and energy is invested, so make it worth it. Regardless of whether marriage counseling is able to save the marriage you both can get some questions answered and be able to clear the air on some things.