Relationship Counseling: Asking for Help Before It’s Too Late
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been married for four years or forty years – a successful relationship takes work if it is to last. Many people aren’t sure if relationship counseling is for them. Perhaps they are embarrassed about the reasons for the problems in the marriage. Other times, one spouse may want to seek relationship counseling, but their partner feels they can work things out on their own.
But a relationship therapist can view the marriage objectively and offer insight that could possibly cause the couple to stop divorce proceedings and begin the healing process instead. A Christian counselor will work with you to help strengthen your belief as well as your marriage.
Is Relationship Counseling Right for You?Although the success rate was only 50% forty years ago, the area of couples counseling has made huge progress. By changing its techniques, the therapy now has a success rate of approximately 70% to 75%, according to the American Psychological Association.
Therapists commonly use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) during the sessions. EFT uses Attachment Theory as the basis for the therapy. Attachment Theory states that babies become attached to their parents when those parents meet their needs, specifically their emotional needs.
When a baby’s needs are not met, or the parent is unavailable (physically or emotionally) it creates a need within the child that they carry with them into adulthood. It is how the parent or caregiver responds to the child when they need to be comforted.
Emotionally Focused Therapy is widely used in relationship counseling because it appears to work well with partners who are dealing with infidelity during the marriage, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
EFT is typically short-term with the therapist teaching the couple how to analyze their thoughts and behaviors. Once the spouses can identify their negative emotions, the therapist can help them to see where the doubt and insecurities lie.
The therapist will then guide the couple to share their fears with each other. Afterward, the couple will use a new language that doesn’t patronize or hurt the other person but opens the conversation instead. The goal of the therapist is to teach these techniques to the couple so they can continue the conversation and change their behavior in the future.
Will your marriage benefit from relationship counseling? If you answer yes to any of the statements below, then relationship counseling could help.
- If either of you is keeping secrets or telling lies
- If either of you in the relationship is having or had an affair
- If either of you has an addiction or substance abuse problem
- If either of you has a mental health condition that is negatively impacting your marriage
- If you can no longer hold a conversation with each other without an argument
- If either of you has lost that intimacy factor
- If a major event like the birth of your baby or the loss of a parent has created distance
- If either of you feels like the partner is the enemy or that he or she doesn’t care anymore
- If you know you want the marriage to work and you believe your spouse does too
If you are both committed to making the relationship work, then there is an excellent chance that the marriage can be saved. Depending on the situation, it may take time for healing and the recovery process, but the earlier you seek treatment, the better your chances for success.
Should You Consider Relationship Counseling Before Marriage?
The saying from Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” can apply not only to fire safety (as was the reason for Franklin’s quote) but to marriage counseling before you say your vows. By sharing any doubts, insecurities, and fears with your potential partner you help put out any future relationship “fires.”
If you learn early in the marriage how to change the conversation, your relationship may never experience the effects of miscommunication. When either spouse feels unheard, neglected, or betrayed, he or she should be able to sit down with their partner and talk openly about their emotions – without reprisals.
By talking with a relationship therapist beforehand, you can manage unwanted behaviors before they become a problem. This gives you (and your partner) a chance to discuss topics such as anger, finances, vices, and parenting beliefs.
You don’t want to get months into the marriage only to realize that your spouse is controlling with money or has absolutely no idea how to pay a bill. If you plan to start a family or already have children, how will the two of you handle parenting styles and discipline?
By finding a therapist you trust, you will receive an unbiased opinion on your relationship and its future. A professional counselor outside of your circle of friends and family will tell you the truth, even if it hurts. Sometimes it is best to hear the painful reality of a situation from someone who is objective, rather than to live for years in ignorance or denial in an unhappy marriage.
Couples Counseling When the Marriage is Over
When one spouse is determined to divorce the other, couples therapy may be of little use. For example, if the wife has begged her husband for years to talk to her or to attend counseling sessions with her, but he’s refused, then she will probably not be open to marriage counseling after she’s filed for divorce. She already tried to repair her marriage for years and she may think her husband is only agreeing to prevent the inevitable.
However, sometimes attending couples therapy together at the end of the marriage can result in an understanding of the dissolvent and result in a peaceful separation. If children are involved in the divorce, parents working cooperatively are beneficial for the entire family.
No one wants their marriage to end in divorce. Sometimes the past mistakes are too much to continue the relationship. Once trust is broken, it is tough to rebuild. If that trust is broken repeatedly over many years, then the marriage no longer has a foundation.
That’s not to say that all is lost. Couples who have been married for decades have gone through some of the worst situations and recovered. Just like with life and finances, happiness in a marriage can sometimes come in waves. There will be struggles – good seasons and bad seasons. If you and your spouse can keep the foundation strong, then there is a chance that the marriage could survive the storms of life.
Finding a Christian Relationship Therapist
The marriage foundation should be more than romance and passion – those are only a part of the marriage. Your foundation needs love, trust, and communication. If you really want to see your marriage flourish, then Jesus Christ should be at the center. A faith-based counselor will use the advanced techniques from psychology along with the Biblical principles of restoration to help you through the healing process.
A Christian relationship therapist can ensure that the sessions allow for communication (and repentance) not only towards each other but to God. As a believer, you know the feeling of new beginnings when you repent and turn to God. A couples counseling session with God at the center could provide you with hope for a fresh start.
If you and your spouse decide to continue your marriage after Christian counseling, the framework and techniques you learned will carry over into the future if you remember to apply them. This gives you a second chance to confirm that God hasn’t been misplaced in your relationship and that He is the head of your family.
The therapist can assist you with maintaining open lines of communication with each other while changing the dialogue. Once you realize how your spouse takes your words (and vice versa), you can change how you express yourself without hurting the other person.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Couples counseling at just the right time could save you both from a great deal of heartache and grief.