Afraid of what attending therapy says about you and your marriage? Many people won't even discuss that they are attending counselling . . . Marriage Confidential: Off the Record, On the QT, and Very Hush Hush. There is a stigma attached to attending therapy, for some weakness is assumed. This is far from the truth.
When people find out that I am a couples therapist, they will often share a little about their lives with me and joke that they need to talk to me, which they quickly dismiss. People generally don't like to admit when they are in or need therapy.
One person, who listed off a litany of issues experienced in her life—losing a parent young, health scares, and strained family relationships—ended by saying, “I am not sure what would bring me into counselling.” To which I replied, “Um..., any of those!” And now, while writing reasons to explore counselling, I am stumped why you wouldn't go. Granted this is my field, and admittedly I am pretty pro counselling, but it is also because I have never seen a couple attend counselling for a trivial reason. I have, on the other hand, seen couples helped in one session, and also witnessed relationships worked on and mended over time when reconciliation seemed impossible.
When you think about how we tackle other aspects of our lives—taking on home renovations, fixing our appearance, obsessing on being better cooks, etc.—why is there not the same focus on our relationships? And more to the point, when we can't solve issues ourselves, why don't we want to bring confidential, trained professionals to help with our marriage problems?
1. Skill Development: You want to learn to improve your marriage.
2. Bring Issues to Light: You fear sharing the issues will be overwhelming.
3. Navigate Differences: Address the conflict in parenting styles, money management, expectations around sex, etc.
4. Find Hope: You are exhausted and need help to see how the marriage could even work now.
5. Break the Silence: Sharing and connecting used to occur, but a steely quietness is the new norm.
6. Resolve Conflict: Bickering happens constantly, your kids don't even notice anymore, and communication is largely negative.
7. Reconnect: Roommates would better describe your relationship.
8. Work on Forgiveness/Letting Go: No one is asking for or granting forgiveness.
9. Define Love: You feel you no longer love your partner . . . maybe never did.
10. Address Unfaithfulness: Affairs have happened, are occurring, or are being contemplated.
11. Enable Trust: Put an end to sneaky behaviour with money, whereabouts, or communication devices.
12. Re-establish Commitment: Not throwing the D word—divorce—into every argument.
13. Relinquish Control: See The Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel.
14. End Abuse: Stop abusive behaviour—if you are in danger, involve the police.
15. Reconstruct the Relationship for the Relationship: Create a marriage that is mutually beneficial, and not purely maintained for others—kids, your parents, etc.
16. Develop and Show Respect for your Partner: Learn how respect between a couple will propel loving actions.
17. Understand Love Languages: When there is no love being demonstrated and no knowledge of how to show it, also see The 5 Love Languages.
18. Manage External Relationship Influences: Deal with outside relationships that are affecting yours.
19. Rekindle the Flame: When sex is a distant memory.
20. Address Addictions: If there are addiction issues for one/both of you.
21. Manage Appropriate Outside Relationships: If you find yourself missing something at home and finding needs met elsewhere.
22. Work through Life Stressors that Weigh on the Marriage: Health, mental health, grief, work issues, etc. It is a safe place to learn how to deal with life events and stressors.
23. Face Your Responsibility in the Relationship: You are convinced that 100% of the blame lies with your partner.
Did any of these resonate? Marriage counselling can help and has saved many marriages. It can be difficult to talk about issues at home—a neutral third person helps bring topics to light and provide direction in a way that eight rounds of he said/she said doesn't. Sometimes it takes that focused time and the safety of having a third person help with exploring the issues or even call the discussion if it becomes unproductive.
Marriage therapy is a proactive positive. Many see counselling as a last resort and wait until the marriage is very damaged and the hurts are deep. Reach out today. It could change your marital life.
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