Problems that bring married couples to seek professional couple counseling include unique characteristics but boil down to a common root cause, which is lack of communication.
The role of marriage counselors is focused mainly on recognizing and resolving conflicts to improve the relationship. They help couples make a thoughtful decision of either strengthening and moving on with the relationship or going their separate ways.
The Heart of Couples Counseling
Marriage counseling is treated by therapists as relationship counseling and one example is the professional couple counseling with Dr. Tomassetti. This means that counseling happens not for individuals, but for the relationship. In short, it’s the relationship that is the client and not the couple themselves.
This is the heart of professional couple counseling. When the relationship is the client instead of the individuals, a therapeutic alliance is built, although it becomes more challenging. Couples come to a therapist with different thresholds for opening up and trusting different goals and expectations.
Barbara Mahaffey, a licensed professional clinical counselor and ACA member who practices in Ohio said that a couples therapy session with a professional therapist will align these goals and expectations and help the couple discover how they can reconcile their personal expectations and establish new goals so that they can move forward as partners.
How Professional Couple Counseling Helps in Reconciling Issues Between Couples
As mentioned earlier problems between couples have unique characteristics. Here are common catalysts that bring couples into relationship counseling:
This is one of the most difficult issues to move past and is unfortunately the most common catalyst as well. It takes many forms like sexual intimacy, nonphysical intimacy, and now, even online relationships.
A professional marriage counselor can help couples with infidelity issues through:
- Helping the couple work through their “why, who, where, and how” stage. They talk about the idea of not being able to unknow something once you know it.
- Narrative therapy where couples, who delayed therapy after an infidelity issue, are asked to briefly touch on information about the affair. This will help the therapist know the strength of the bond between the couple.
Couple therapists help a couple share their story as partners to see how and when the crack in their relationship started and developed. They can be asked to analyze questions like:
- Were you friends and true partners?
- What happened that started pulling you apart?
There are many milestones and experiences in a couple’s life such as deaths, births, work, money, and so on that is usually an answer to the second question. These events can alter the nature of a couple’s relationship where either or both individuals can be vulnerable to disruption.
On top of the disruptions, misperceptions and unmet expectations can widen tiny cracks that have already been planted, making a couple drift further and further apart.
Marriage counselors will likely ask their clients to go through the process of identifying what went wrong before asking them to make a decision about whether to stay together or not.
If a couple chooses to stay, a professional couple counselor will help the couple move on while helping them with the following:
- Start to discuss how to protect the relationship going forward.
- Setting aside time to talk with each other more frequently.
- Being intentional about making time for dates and even going on vacations without the children tagging along.
- Identifying the behaviors in which each individual in the relationship engages that plays a role in pulling the relationship apart.
Among the common reasons why couples see professional couple counseling is financial difficulties. It is also an underlying issue to the bigger issues that couples face. Therapists will let the couple give full disclosure as part of the counseling process.
The role of marriage counseling for couples facing this issue is to help the couple recognize their need to possess a clear picture of their financial situation and then to move forward and develop a reasonable budget. They can also be recommended to seek professional financial advice if needed.
Empowering Yourself Through Professional Couple Counseling
It is not always easy to decide to seek the help of a professional marriage therapist when intimacy and understanding in your marriage go awry. Asking for help always seems to be the hardest part. But taking the first step and trusting in the insightful and empowering benefits of professional couple counseling can just be the solution you were looking for.