A husband and wife married for more than 20 years ago arranges for couples therapy marriage counseling. They believe the counseling may be their last chance at saving the relationship. All other efforts to date have failed. The question is this: will couples counseling work?
Helping save marriages is one of the things counselors at Relationships & More do every day. The Westchester, New York practice offers both online and in-person counseling. Their counselors say that what they offer is more relationship therapy than anything else. Successful therapy requires that couples do their part.
Here are five things necessary to make couples counseling work:
1. An Open Mind
The whole point of marriage counseling rooted in relationship therapy principles is uncovering the root causes of dysfunction so they can be addressed. Couples have to come into it with an open mind. Otherwise, dysfunction cannot be explored.
Couples going into counseling without an open mind tend to believe they already know what is causing their problems. Ironically, they tend to blame each other for the dysfunction. On the other hand, open-minded couples are willing to look for dysfunction wherever it can be found. They are willing to admit their individual roles in causing it.
2. A Willingness to Speak Openly
Because couples counseling is largely a talking therapy, it’s imperative that both parties be willing to speak openly. Both husband and wife need to be able to freely express what they are thinking and feeling. Likewise, both need to grant the other the freedom to speak openly. In the end, communication is always the key to successfully addressing marriage problems. If couples are not willing to speak openly, their ability to communicate is severely hampered.
3. A Willingness to Accept Responsibility
The early stages of couples counseling can easily descend into a blame game scenario. The husband blames the wife for all their troubles and vice-versa. This is no way to solve relationship problems. On the other hand, couples willing to accept responsibility for the state of their relationship are more likely to find ways to fix what is broken.
In a couple’s scenario, each party must be willing to accept responsibility. Both husband and wife must be willing to take ownership of their respective contributions to their broken relationship. Both must take responsibility for the behaviors they exhibit moving forward. Continuing to shirk that responsibility only dooms the marriage to failure.
4. A Willingness to Learn
Relationship therapy is a collaborative effort between couples and their counselor. A big part of that collaboration is learning. Counselors take the time to learn what is going on with their clients. Meanwhile, couples learn why they behave the way they do and how those behaviors affect their relationship.
It has been said that knowledge is power. That being the case, learning creates the power to overcome marriage problems. The more knowledge a couple has about their relationship, the more effective they will be at finding workable solutions.
5. An Ability to Identify Common Ground
Finally, successful couples counseling often rides on the ability to find common ground. When couples can find that common ground, they have something positive on which to build. Each success in the building process leads to another, and so on. Conversely, a couple stuck in the belief that there is no common ground doesn’t have a starting point for fixing their relationship. They are ideal candidates for throwing up their arms and giving in.
Couples counseling doesn’t succeed by osmosis or magic. It requires a collaborative effort in which counselors and couples all contribute their part.