The ABCs of Couples Counseling
“Marriage is the hardest and most rewarding thing you will ever do.” How many of us heard a statement like that when we first got married? We were bright-eyed newlyweds and those words caught us off guard. Marriage would be hard? How could that be so? Certainly, our love would be different. We wouldn’t be like those other couples who had struggles or needed couples counseling.
We soon discovered that marriage is hard. Yes, it’s incredibly rewarding and wonderful, but it is so hard. All relationships are hard. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. Couples counseling can benefit every couple, married, engaged, or dating. Even if you don’t feel like you need counseling, you’ll find there are ways it can benefit you.
The ABCs of Couples CounselingHere are the ABCs of couples counseling. This is a list of areas where counseling can help your relationship, activities you may do in counseling, and common topics for which couples seek counseling. We hope this is a fun way for you to see that all couples, in all stages of marriage, can benefit from outside support.
A – Arguing, or lack thereof
Some couples seem to fight all the time. Others seem to never argue. Both of these are reasons to seek outside support. The couples who never seem to have any disagreements are often those who are struggling the most, they’re just stuffing the problems.
The couples who argue a lot are at least getting the problems out there but are often not constructively working through them. A counselor can help couples on both ends, and anywhere in between, learn how to effectively work through arguments and fights. They’ll help all couples deal with issues in a way that is comfortable for them.
B – Boredom
In our bright-eyed newlywed or newly dating days, we may have thought we’d never get bored with this person. Yet for many couples, boredom eventually sets in. We fall into all too predictable routines and rhythms and may become bored in our relationship. A counselor can make suggestions for ways to combat this boredom – both personally and for the couple.
C – Communication skills
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? We’ll be working on more effective communication our entire lives; marriage is no exception.
D – Doubt
Doubt emerges in different areas of our lives – doubt in our faith, doubt in our chosen career path, doubt in our lifestyle choices, and even doubt that our spouse loves and cares for us. These seasons of doubt can be processed and worked through with much less confusion and pain in counseling.
E – Engaged couples
If you don’t have a pastor available for premarital counseling, consider a Christian counselor. Get your marriage off to the best possible start with couples counseling for engaged couples.
F – Fertility struggles
Couples struggling with fertility issues face a higher likelihood of divorce. This is a stressful, emotional, overwhelming, and confusing struggle. Outside emotional support is critical for couples facing fertility struggles.
G – Geriatric issues / Caring for geriatric parentsAging can bring an entirely new set of struggles to a marriage. Especially when aging comes with health or mental health issues.
Outside support for one, or both, partners can be transformative for how couples handle the aging process.
Caring for a geriatric parent is also an increasing concern for couples. This is emotionally taxing on the entire family and a good area to get support.
H – Home buying and household chores
These are two of the top areas of conflict. Work through the right home buying decision with a neutral third-party perspective. Household chores can also be more easily discussed, delegated, and set into a rhythm with another person’s guidance and opinions.
I – Involvement
Some couples feel like their spouse/partner is over-involved while others feel they are under-involved. This applies to parenting as well as to how the couple relates to one another. Working towards a comfortable level of involvement for both people is important.
J – Jobs
Another frequent area of struggle is work. This can tie into involvement as well when the job takes away the involvement of one, or both, people. Your counselor can help with healthy job boundaries, choosing the right job, couples who work together, job transitions, job loss, and more.
K – Kids & parenting
We could probably write a separate article on couples counseling for parents. Suffice it to say that parenting is hard. You add these little people to your lives who you love with your whole hearts and they entirely disrupt and change your marriage.
Some families can struggle with the addition of a new child. Parents dealing with postpartum depression or other mental health struggles, raising a special needs or gifted child, raising a disabled child, an adopted child, or teens most often seek support, though all parents could benefit. Couples counseling, family counseling, and individual counseling will be likely.
L – Long-term dating relationships
Those who have been in a dating relationship long-term seek couples counseling too. You may relate to many of the above struggles or concerns.
M – Money
Almost everyone could benefit from support in this area. It’s one of the top subjects couples disagree on and one of the top sources of conflict.
N – Naming emotions
Learning to identify and name your emotions can be transformational. To have your spouse/partner be able to tell you how they are feeling is important. Yet many of us don’t have a good emotional vocabulary or we don’t quite know how to identify our emotions. This is a key process for many couples who seek outside support.
O – One-on-one work
Often a couple, or family, will come in and it becomes clear that one-on-one counseling is needed as well.
P – Perspective
A neutral third-party perspective and opinion is always a good thing to have. If you feel your counselor is taking sides, address it with them.
Q – Questions
You’ll be asked a lot of questions, yes. And you’ll learn how to ask your partner/spouse more effective questions to learn more about them and their feelings.
R – Role-play
Sometimes we learn the best by walking in someone else’s shoes. You may be asked to role-play different scenarios and take the role of the other person, another family member, or someone else. This can feel a little awkward at first but it’s quite effective.
S – SafetyOur romantic relationships should be places of safety. Unfortunately, too many people have not always had that.
Those who are coming into a relationship from an abusive or unsafe situation may need support.
This support will help them process their previous experiences and learn they can trust their safety with this other person.
T – Trauma
Like safety, far too many people have trauma. Working through traumatic experiences as a couple helps you both process them and move forward together. One-on-one counseling will also be likely and maybe even a support group.
U – Understanding
Learning to understand yourself and your spouse/partner will be a lifelong journey. Getting outside support from time to time will help you in this process.
V – Vision and goal setting
You’ll likely do vision and goal setting for your couples counseling process. This helps all involved to know what you’re working towards, what issues you’d like to work through, and your desired outcomes.
W – Work through
We will always have things we need to work through, both individually and with those we love.
X – S-E-X(Okay, this one doesn’t start with X, but X is a tricky letter.) Sex is one of the biggest sources of conflict but least discussed in Christian circles.
It may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but your marriage will be so much stronger for getting help with your sex life.
Those who have traumatic sexual backgrounds usually benefit from support as well.
Y – Your relationship
Couples counseling is all about building and growing your relationship with each other and your relationship with God (both together, and as an individual.)
Z – Zzzzz’s
Sleep! This happens to be another area of struggle for many couples. A counselor can help you establish evening routines that will help you both get the best sleep possible and teach you relaxation techniques to use at bedtime. Plus, working through all of the above will take stress and pressure off of your mind so you can relax more and sleep better at night too!
Christian Couples Therapy
If you and your partner could use help with any of these issues in your relationship, feel free to contact our office today to learn more about Christian couples counseling. We’d love to help you strengthen your relationship through the benefits of couples therapy.
Copyright Leah Elliott, 2021, All rights reserved