Marriage Counseling 101: Your Guide to Couples Therapy

Marriage Counseling 101: Your Guide to Couples Therapy

Are you experiencing problems in your relationship?

Have you been considering couples therapy? Maybe you’ve heard great things about how it’s worked for couples you know, but it’s still normal to be skeptical.

After all, does marriage counseling work?

Truth is, it does – and I’m going to tell you why.

In fact, you don’t even have to be married to attend couples therapy. These days, many couples start counseling before they even tie the knot.

Keep reading to learn more about the basics of couples therapy and how – and why – it’s so effective for building and maintaining romantic relationships.

What is Couples Therapy?

Before we get into the efficacy of marriage counseling, let’s take a look at the basics of the concept.

Marriage counseling is couples therapy for those who are married. You don’t have to be married to go through couples therapy, but many married couples find it useful.

Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy. A therapist who has clinical experience with couples therapy, usually a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) administers the therapy.

Your therapist will help you and your partner gain insight into the problems your relationship is experiencing and help you work through those issues and resolve conflict. The goal is to improve your satisfaction with your relationship.

Your therapist will help you achieve this by using a variety of therapeutic techniques. Therapists are humans too and each has their own approach, but the following general elements can be expected as part of your therapy:

  • Identifying and focusing on specific problems in the relationship
  • Working to heal the relationship itself, as opposed to each individual
  • Suggesting solutions and changes to be implemented from the start of treatment 
  • An establishment and explanation of treatment goals

Marriage counseling isn’t exclusively for those experiencing unhappiness in their relationship. In fact, couples therapy is common for engaged couples in the form of premarital counseling.

Couples therapy can also prevent a small problem from getting worse or be used preemptively to help a couple manage stress during a challenging period or simply as the years pass. Anyone in a romantic relationship can benefit from learning skills that can improve connection and communication in their relationship.

What Should You Expect During Marriage Counseling?

When you first begin marriage counseling, you’ll likely begin by answering some preliminary questions about yourself and your relationship.

These include questions about the relationship’s history, the family history of each partner, and the general values, cultures, and priorities of each partner. During these initial sessions, your therapist may use crisis intervention methods if needed.

The next step will be identifying the issues that will be the focus of the treatment. The therapist will establish and explain the goals of the treatment and will map out a structure for the treatment.

The therapist will observe you and your partner and help you understand the dynamics in your relationship that may be causing issues. During the actual treatment, the therapist will work to help both of you understand your own contributions to the dysfunction of the relationship and work to reframe your perceptions of the relationship and each other.

The most important part of couples therapy is learning how to apply the insight you’ve gained. Your therapist will teach you how to change your behaviors and interactions with each other to improve the identified issues.

You might have homework after each session to put your improved relationship skills to use in your daily interactions with your partner.

Here are some examples of issues that are commonly addressed in marriage counseling:

  • Money
  • Children/parenting
  • Infidelity
  • Gambling
  • Substance use/abuse
  • Frequent conflict
  • Sex
  • Chronic health issues
  • Infertility
  • In-Laws
  • Emotional Distance

Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Studies show that it does. In fact, 98% of people report therapy services as good or excellent.

Most couples who go through marriage counseling find it to be worth their while for a few reasons. First, partners learn how to look at each other and the relationship as a whole in a new way.

You’ll be able to see the relationship and its problems from an objective point of view and understand your own role in the problems. This is nearly impossible to accomplish on your own due to the passionate emotions involved in romantic relationships.

Not only will you learn to listen to the needs of your partner, but you’ll learn how to constructively express your own needs and emotions. Most of us aren’t experts at communicating what we want and need, especially when in the confines of a relationship.

During marriage counseling, you’ll learn practical communication and problem-solving skills that you can use to resolve the issues at hand and to prevent future issues. Ideally, you and your partner can work through issues that arise over the course of the rest of your relationship with your new skillset before they reach a crisis level.

This means that you’re not only gaining a resolution of current issues but learning the skills to solve new ones on your own or prevent them altogether. 

Getting Started

Hopefully, I’ve answered your question, “Does marriage counseling work?” with a resounding YES it does!

All couples, no matter the stage of their relationship can benefit from marriage counseling. Attending couples therapy before problems start or escalate within your relationship can give you the tools you need to stay happy and healthy.

If you’re already having problems, it’s not too late to save your relationship. 

Modern Era is here to help. Contact us today to get started or for answers to any questions you may have. 

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