Marriage counseling, also known as couples therapy, is a type of therapy that helps couples, married or unmarried, work out their conflicts and improve their relationship. These counseling sessions allow for better communication and a way to talk through problems in a controlled setting. Marriage counseling is often provided by a licensed therapist or psychologist, who works as a mediator between both partners, to help them strengthen their bond and gain a better understanding of each other and the problems they may be facing. Some couples may seek marriage counseling in times of crisis, while others may consult with a therapist for guidance with daily marital issues.
There are several reasons why couples may seek help from a professionally trained marriage counselor. Some couples may come to a marriage counselor to better understand each other and strengthen their relationship. Other couples who are considering marriage, may come to a marriage counselor for pre-marriage counseling to get a better idea of their compatibility before marriage. Many couples seek marriage counseling to improve a relationship that is troubled by a number of specific issues, such as poor communication, sexual difficulties, drug and alcohol abuse, or excessive anger. In addition, marriage counseling can help couples deal with troubled relationships that may include difficult issues such as:
- Financial problems
Marriage counseling can also be beneficial in helping couples deal with day to day issues like communication, negative feelings, child rearing, blended families or cultural differences. While marriage counseling may also be helpful in resolving issues that lead to domestic abuse, counseling itself is not adequate in cases that escalate or may escalate to violence, in which case contacting the police or seeking a crisis shelter is recommended.
In a joint therapy session with a marriage counselor, the couple will learn skills that can help them strengthen their relationship, such as how to communicate more openly, how to solve problems together, and how to discuss differences in a rational and productive manner. The therapist will help the couple analyze the positive and negative factors that may be the sources of satisfaction and conflict in the relationship. While marriage counseling often involves joint therapy attended by both partners, in some cases an individual may also work with the therapist alone to discuss and focus on individual behaviors.
It is important for couples to choose a counselor together and commit to working on their relationship. Some couples may see an improvement in their relationship after just a few sessions, and others may take several months to sort out emotions and see any progress. Through dedication, honesty and compromise, many couples benefit tremendously from marriage counseling.