Assessing your marriage relationship and coming to grips with the fact that you need counseling can seem earth-shattering. Just the thought of going to counseling can lead you to believe that you and your spouse are on the verge of losing it all; that counseling is your last chance to get it right. If you are in that position right now, stop and breathe. It is not the end of the world.
More Common Than You Think
A recently published study out of Mid-America Nazarene University demonstrates that nearly half of all married couples end up attending counseling at some point during the course of their relationships. Nearly half. So the first thing to note is that you and your spouse are not alone. Should you decide to attend counseling, you will be in good company.
Next up, consider why so many couples end up seeking counseling. It is not because they fight, or they don’t know how to communicate, or they take one another for granted. Those are all just symptoms of an underlying problem described by psychologist and author Joel Block, Ph.D. in a recent Forbes post authored by Kimberly Dawn Neumann.
According to Block, “few men and women have had exposure to the tools that foster long-term relationships.” Stop a minute and let that sink in. The reason so many couples have trouble is that they do not have the tools to make their marriages work. If you don’t like the word ‘tools’, the phrase ‘know-how’ makes the same point.
You Can’t Practice What You Don’t Know
Unfortunately, the beginning of the sexual revolution in the 1960s ushered in an era in which strong marriage relationships were not viewed as being as important as they once were. That generation of parents that first began having children in the 60s and 70s put less effort into teaching their kids how to maintain long-term relationships. That, coupled with the consumerism of the postwar era, left a void that hasn’t been filled since.
Today, couples do not split up because they cannot make it work. They split up because they don’t know how to make it work. They have grown up in a world of convenience and instant gratification. The minute their marriages no longer satisfy them, they think the solution is to walk away and try something new.
In essence, modern couples cannot practice what they don’t know. If they don’t know what it takes to make a marriage work, they won’t do it. They will not implement relationship principles they have never been taught. That is where marriage counseling comes in.
Equipping Couples to Succeed
The counselors at Relationships & More in Rye, NY explain that the point of marriage counseling is to equip couples to succeed. It is not to solve their problems for them. No counselor, therapist, or psychologist can do that anyway. Couples must come up with their own solutions and work them out.
Equipping couples begins by helping them understand the fundamental reasons they have trouble with basic relationship skills. It teaches them how to communicate on a meaningful level. Counseling teaches them how to appreciate one another rather than taking one another for granted. It helps each partner to understand their own weaknesses and what can be done to improve those things.
Deciding you and your spouse need counseling is not the end of the world. In fact, it is actually a positive first step. If you follow through on that decision with a full commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed, marriage counseling should prove very beneficial to you.