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Since almost 33 per cent of marriages in the UK end in divorce, it is not surprising why so many couples seek counselling services at some point in their marriage. Despite this, thinking about what happens in a marriage counselling session is entirely normal, especially if you and your partner are considering it. Some people may initially find it too intimidating, especially if they have never availed of it. But when these thoughts begin to hit your head, remind yourself that your idea of marriage counselling, i.e. sitting with your partner at the opposite end of a couple in some office, is not what it’s going to be like. The process is highly goal-oriented and can bring you and your partner a great deal of benefit.

This article will explain more about marriage counselling, what to expect from it, and how it can benefit couples and potentially save their relationships.

Your first marriage therapy session will likely involve a few key components. Familiarising yourself with them ahead of time can significantly alleviate any hesitation, fear, or anxiety you may have about participating in them.

Policies and Paperwork

During the very first session of marriage counselling, you will most likely go through some paperwork before focusing on saving your relationship. Most counsellors dedicate some time explaining their policies regarding payments, insurance, cancellations, the best ways to contact them, etc. They may also go over the ethics and legalities of a client-therapist relationship.

Both partners are free to raise concerns about anything being discussed or ask questions about anything the counsellor does not cover.

 Goal Setting

Following the briefing about policies and completion of mandatory paperwork comes goal setting. This step is crucial for your therapist to devise a suitable approach to therapy. For setting individual goals, a therapist may ask both partners the following questions: 

  • What issues would you like to address, and what obstacles do you wish to overcome in your marriage?
  • What are your expectations from marriage counselling?
  • Do you and your partner share the same goals
  • If not, what is essential to each of you?

Exploration of Background

A counsellor will wish to explore the difficulties you and your partner have faced in your relationship. They will likely ask about the basics of your relationships as well, including the following:

  • How did you first meet?
  • What were the circumstances under which you met? Did it include a traumatic experience, like abuse?
  • How long have you been with each other?
  • What are the patterns of your relationship?
  • Do you share mutual respect in your relationship?
  • Do you communicate well?
  • Do you and your partner have the same goals for your relationship?

 

Personalities

Next, a counsellor will attempt to gain a comprehensive and deeper understanding of you and your partner’s personalities. This allows them to understand how they can help you both in the best possible way and decide the most appropriate treatment.

Establishment of a Timeline

Lastly, a counsellor may design a timeline for your progress, which eventually helps set expectations. Whether in-person or online, marriage therapy is never a quick fix for a deteriorating relationship. Hence, it is essential to be realistic about when you can begin seeing changes.

The reality is that you and your partner can surely get a lot out of relationship and marriage counselling. It may require persistence, dedication, and hard work, but all this effort will likely pay off in the end. During the tenure of this therapy, you will eventually learn more about yourself, your partner, and the relationship you share. While it may sound surprising, marriage counselling can also benefit people before they accumulate a lot of issues in their relationship and can help couples avoid them in the future.

If done right with the right attitude and commitment level, counselling for marriage can build or repair a strong foundation for your relationship. This strong foundation allows both of you to weather many storms your marriage will likely face over the years. Following are some essential skills you can develop with marriage counselling:

Managing or overcoming fears

To overcome any fears, it is crucial to identify them first. If fear is driving your relationship, marriage counselling can help both partners figure out the root of this fear and help find ways to cope with it so that it does not damage the relationship anymore.

Communicating effectively

Communication is an essential part of any relationship, including marriage. Learning how to communicate properly is more than just talking to each other. Instead, it is all about learning how to express your desires and needs in a way your partner understands easily. Furthermore, it is equally important to learn and interpret your partner’s needs; marriage counselling can help you with both.

Discovering the triggers

Attempting to identify what triggers both partners in a relationship can help them navigate their relationship in a more productive and healthier manner. Once both partners are familiar with each other’s triggers, they can eventually learn how to avoid them and maintain harmony.

Being assertive, not offensive

Expressing needs in a relationship is healthy and necessary; however, it does not have to stir conflict every time. Being assertive and stating your desires without offending the other partner is the key to having a loving relationship, and marriage counselling can help individuals acquire this vital skill.

Resolving conflict

Marriage counselling also focuses on helping clients learn about conflict resolution. Since every couple will eventually have conflicts in their marriage, some more than others, knowing how to manage them effectively can keep the relationship going on healthier terms.

Becoming more proactive and less reactive

Another important skill that marriage counselling can teach couples is avoiding knee-jerk reactions. It educates both partners on proactively approaching different conversations and situations while preventing pain and hurt.

Learning about other’s past

An essential component of relationship counselling is an exploration of its clients’ past histories. This allows you to understand where your partner is coming from and can help you understand why they react in a certain way. For example, if your partner had a difficult childhood, they may have learned to shut down amidst a conflict and might have carried this survival tactic into adulthood. Once you understand the reason behind their behaviour, you can approach situations with a different perspective and strive to establish trust. It is even possible for you to help your partner overcome at least some aspect of their painful past.

Avoiding the blame game

Blaming is easy and highly destructive for a relationship. Therapy can help partners handle tricky situations productively without playing the blame game with each other.

Expressing needs without resentment or anger

Being able to express what you need to without being angry can help you take your relationship to another level. The same is true when it comes to resentment. In many cases, when people feel like their needs are not being met, especially for a long time, they build resentment. Marriage therapy can help you let go of these feelings of anger and resentment so that you can easily communicate your needs to your partner more effectively.

Practising kindness and compassion

While this may sound like an easy task, many people in marriage may forget how to be compassionate and kind. Practising these two attributes with marriage counselling means you are making a priority in your relationship and trying to save it in the best way you can.

Rebuilding broken trusts

Rebuilding trust is easier said than done, especially in a marriage where a partner has violated it. For example, infidelity can easily lead to trust issues which can be hard to recover from on your own. However, if both people are willing to work on these issues and repair their relationship, marriage therapy can help them out.

Setting boundaries

Therapy for marriage also helps clients learn how to set boundaries in different areas of their lives. Additionally, a marriage counsellor may also teach them how to honour these boundaries for a healthy and lasting relationship.

Processing pain

If one or both partners in a marriage have been through a painful life event and haven’t been able to move on from it, its effects can damage their current relationship. In such circumstances, seeking marriage therapy is crucial as it helps such people process their pain. This way, they can finally let go of it and make peace with their past instead of allowing it to affect their present or future relationships negatively.

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