Marriage counselling is designed to help couples overcome relationship problems, improve communication, and strengthen their bond. It’s a commonly sought-after service, but many wonder: Does marriage counselling really work?
To answer this question, we’ll explore what marriage counselling is, what happens during sessions, and what research has to say about its effectiveness.
What is marriage counselling?
Marriage counselling, also known as couples therapy, is when a trained professional helps identify and resolve problems in a relationship. Marriage counselling works by way of improving communication, increasing intimacy, and helping the couple develop stronger, healthier bonds.
Marriage counselling can be conducted in various settings, including individual or group sessions, in-person, or virtually. The format and duration of sessions can vary depending on the therapist and the couple’s needs.
What happens during marriage counselling?
During marriage counselling, the therapist will work with the couple to identify the issues they’re experiencing and develop strategies to address them. The therapist will teach the couple tools to communicate more effectively, understand each other’s needs and desires, and work toward common goals.
The therapist may use various techniques and approaches to help the couple, including Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, and the Gottman Method.
Does marriage counselling work?
Let’s get to the heart of the matter: Does marriage counselling help? The answer is a complex one, as the effectiveness of marriage counselling can depend on a variety of factors, including the specific issues the couple is facing, and the couple’s willingness to work through their problems.
Research suggests that marriage counselling can be effective at improving relationship satisfaction and reducing divorce rates. For example, a study suggests that couples who participated in annual relationship checkups reported higher levels of contentment, better communication, and fewer conflicts. Preventative approaches to marriage counselling are one of the best ways to promote relationship health and prevent marital distress, as couples can identify conflict before it happens.
Another study found that partners who received Integrative Behavioural Couple Therapy (IBCT) showed significant improvements in communication and conflict resolution skills. The study also found IBCT could be more effective than Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in some situations.
While these studies suggest marriage counselling can be effective, it’s important to note that counselling can vary depending on several factors. For example, a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples who received Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) showed significant improvement in relationship fulfilment and reduced relationship distress. These improvements were mediated by changes in emotion regulation, attachment, and relationship perceptions.
Overall, research suggests that marriage counselling can be effective in improving relationship contentment and reducing separation rates.
Benefits of marriage counselling
Can counselling save your marriage? While counselling won’t completely eliminate all problems, it has multiple benefits. For example, marriage counselling helps couples:
- Improve communication: Communication is a key component of any healthy relationship. Marriage counselling can help couples develop better communication skills, learn to listen to each other and express their feelings more productively.
- Learn to resolve conflict: Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, but it’s important to know how to handle it in a healthy way. Marriage counselling can help couples resolve conflicts constructively and use them as an avenue for growth.
- Become aware of each other’s needs: Counselling helps partners develop their empathy skills and the ability to see things from another’s perspective.
- Strengthen your bond: By helping you reach a mutual understanding, counselling has the power to bring you closer than ever.
Couples may benefit from marriage counselling if they’re experiencing issues that affect the quality of their relationship.
Some common reasons for seeking therapy include:
- Communication problems: If a couple has difficulty communicating effectively, it can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and conflicts.
- Trust issues: Trust is an essential part of any relationship, and when it’s broken, it can be challenging to repair. A counsellor can help you rebuild trust and avoid issues in the future.
- Infidelity: When one or both partners have cheated, it can be challenging to rebuild the relationship. Counselling can help the couple explore the underlying reasons behind the infidelity and work on repairing the damage or help them move on.
- Intimacy problems: If a couple is experiencing a lack of intimacy or difficulty with sexual issues, counselling can help them reconnect.
- Parenting issues: The stresses of parenting can put a strain on a relationship. Counselling can help couples balance the parenting load and help partners find common ground in parenting styles.
- Financial problems: Money problems can create significant stress and tension in a relationship. Counselling can help couples learn how to communicate about money and work together to solve their financial problems.
Overall, couples should consider seeking marriage counselling if they are experiencing any significant problems in their relationship that they cannot resolve on their own. This is especially true if the same fights keep coming up.
How to get the most out of counselling
Marriage counselling can be an excellent way for couples to work through their problems and improve the quality of their relationship. However, getting the best out of marriage counselling requires a commitment from both partners to participate in the process actively.
It’s essential to understand that counselling is not a magic solution that will solve all your problems overnight. Rather, it’s a process that takes time and effort from both partners. Be open to change, and be ready to implement the tools your counsellor shares.
Honesty is a crucial element of successful counselling. Be honest with yourself, your partner, and the counsellor. Don’t hold back anything that may be important to the issues at hand. Only through honesty can you identify the root causes of your problems and work towards resolving them.
Active listening is another important aspect of successful counselling. Listen without interrupting or being defensive. Try to understand your partner’s perspective and empathize with their feelings. This will help you build better communication and develop deeper intimacy.
Set realistic expectations
Before beginning counselling, set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve through your sessions. This can be done alone with your partner or with the guidance of your counsellor.
Change takes time — and it may take several sessions to see progress. Be patient with yourself, your partner, and the counsellor. Stay committed to the process and trust that your work will pay off in the end.
Practice what you learn
Marriage counselling can provide valuable insights and tools to improve your relationship. However, practicing what you learn outside of counselling sessions is up to you. This may involve implementing new communication techniques, setting aside time for intimacy, or making other changes in your relationship. Be committed to implementing what you learn in counselling into your daily life.
Finally, follow through on the commitments you make in counselling. This will show your partner that you are dedicated to improving your relationship.
Improve your relationship today
Marriage counselling is worth trying, and it can be a powerful tool for improving the quality of your relationship. However, getting the best out of counselling requires both partners to be open, honest, patient, and willing to make changes. By following these tips, you can maximize the benefits of counselling and build a stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationship with your partner.