MARRIAGE COUNSELING: FOR US ?
Why do people think twice about calling a marriage counselor when they don't hesitate to call other specialists for professional
services? Tax advisers, interior designers, home inspectors, doctors, dentists, all stand ready to provide advice and consultation
services when requested. There's no need for any admission of failure when you call a tax adviser; you just shop for the
best adviser for your issues. Just as there is no shame in calling a tax adviser, there should be no embarrassment about
calling a marriage counselor. In fact you should feel proud to call a therapist to provide professional services for your
most valued assets, your marriage and family. You can call for marriage counseling assistance as prevention, intervention
or crisis management.
We care for our cars by checking oil levels, inflating tires and scheduling tune-ups to keep the automobile running smoothly
and prevent future problems. Similarly, a marriage counselor can provide preventive maintenance services. Prenuptial counseling
is frequently discussed but seldom utilized as the couple's romantic bliss obscures all but the most serious impending problems.
Most couples don't even consider marriage counseling as the relationship begins to settle down into daily life issues and
as stresses and strains start to erode the "live happily ever after" myth. In this article I'm asking you to consider
a round of marriage counseling before typical marriage concerns (such as finances, parenting, division-of-labor, in-laws,
or sexual compatibility problems) take over. After an initial consultation, the couple and therapist step back for an informal
"evaluation" of the marital issues and begin a plan of sessions sometimes with "homework" to practice
new skills. Far from being just a clinical analysis of conflict management issues, the prevention plan will often focus on
new ways for the couple to have fun together such as date nights to preserve or improve love and intimacy.
When emerging problems harden into ongoing frustrations and then into conflicts, and when problems keep recurring without
resolution, the intervention of marriage counseling will often put the marriage back into balance. Some issues can be resolved
during the sessions, while the couple can learn to live with other problems. Marriage counseling services provide a retreat
from everyday stress and a place to focus on the marriage with an experienced adviser to mediate disputes and teach new skills.
While conflict resolution skills are important at this stage, the couple will also learn about the need to prioritize positive
interactions to build up a "love bank" to protect the marriage from the wounds of hurt and anger. Far from feeling
guilty that they "need" marriage counseling, husband and wife should be proud of their accomplishments in taking
steps to face the tough issues and improve the quality of their relationship and their lives.
Crisis intervention marriage counseling is needed when thoughts of escape from the marriage surface in the form of conflict
behaviors such as withdrawal and stonewalling, violent arguments, extramarital affairs, thoughts or talk about separation
and divorce. Such problems often follow a phase of "pretend everything is all right." Rather than deny or bury
the pain, marriage counseling will help the couple focus on resolving the problems and can often turn the crisis into an improved
marriage. Marriages can be saved even when extramarital affairs are discovered, although the process is slow and painful.
If your marriage is in crisis, don't wait! It can be too late.
What if your spouse won't participate in marriage counseling? Then you will need to take action yourself. Even when
both husband and wife agree to the marriage counseling, you can only change yourself, not your spouse. Marriage counselors
are also individual therapists and often tackle marriage problems with the willing spouse.
Even if your marriage is headed toward separation or divorce, most marriage counselors are also experienced in handling
these issues. Friendly support and advice can feel like life savers at this time of crisis. It can be a mistake for husband
or wife to try to hang on to the marriage because of fear of exiting into a lonely, loveless existence. Separation and divorce
can be a chance to build a new and improved life in the face of irreconcilable differences.
The answer to the title question may be "yes"; perhaps you should consider marriage counseling. It's a good
investment in your future!