Marriage counseling might seem like something associated with trouble in paradise – but perhaps that’s because you’ve never considered couples counseling. Or, maybe you believe it’s something people do only when they’re trying to avoid a divorce. In actual fact, therapy for couples doesn’t just exist as a form of rescue when things are rocky. Nearly 49% of married couples report having done marriage counseling at some point in their relationship. These sessions can open avenues of communication you never knew existed and guide you toward strengthening your bond.
But seeking out the right counselor for you and your spouse is just as important as going to counseling. After all, with such an overwhelming number of professionals out there, how do you pick the perfect match? And how do you decide to make the jump and decide when to go to marriage counseling?
If you’ve been wondering how to find a marriage counselor or wondering if now’s the time, this post will guide you through a decision – with companionship and harmony waiting on the other side.
What is a Marriage Counselor?
A marriage counselor, or marriage therapist, is a licensed professional who typically has an average of 13 years in clinical practice. They aim to help married couples navigate their relationship issues and strengthen their marital bond. They might operate online or in a private office, providing a safe environment for couples to discuss anything and everything – their feelings, challenges, expectations, and more – while helping them with effective communication and problem-solving.
Couples Therapy vs. Marriage Counseling
The goal of couples counseling and marriage counseling is essentially the same – fostering love, better communication, and proper understanding of each other and the relationship. However, there are a few nuances between them.
Couples counseling applies to any two people in a romantic relationship at any stage, whether they’ve been dating for a few weeks or are living together. This type of therapy focuses on conflict management, improving communication, and problem-solving.
On the contrary, marriage counseling is specifically targeted toward married couples. Marriage therapy usually addresses disputes that directly affect the marriage, like finances, trust, parenting, infidelity, sexual incompatibility, responsibilities, and more. It might even go into individual issues like mental health conditions or past trauma.
When to seek professional help
Dr. John Gottman, an expert in marriage and relationship studies, says that couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before seeking relationship therapy. Going through months and years of dissatisfaction before looking for a trained therapist has the potential to do a lot more harm than if you were to nip things in the bud.
The truth is that recognizing when to ask for help can be more difficult than it sounds. It can be much easier to sweep issues under the rug, as admitting that you need help can feel uncomfortable and discouraging. Reframing the situation and looking at seeking help as a sign of strength might help. Being willing to put in the work to better something that’s important to you, in this case, your love life, will make a world of difference.
Here are some situations where you should consider seeking a professional therapist:
- Endless cycle of arguments: If you’re stuck in the same arguments over and over again without reaching common ground.
- Avoidant behavior: If you’d rather spend time alone and prefer to avoid your partner.
- Feelings of resentment: If resentment has been affecting your feelings for your partner.
- Life transitions: If big life transitions like changing careers, moving, or having a child are straining your relationship.
- Trust issues: If there’s been a breach of trust, like emotional or physical infidelity.
How to find a marriage counselor
Looking for and ultimately choosing a marriage counselor involves consideration of a range of factors. It might involve going with your gut, but it should also involve looking at reviews, asking for recommendations, and looking at what each therapist specializes in. Let’s look at a step-by-step approach to picking your very first therapist:
- Figure out your needs: Your search should always start with a clear vision of what you want to address in counseling, whether it’s trust, intimacy, communication issues, or something else.
- Do your research: Always make sure you’re looking for licensed professionals with expertise in marriage counseling. Perhaps you have a list of recommendations ready or want to use Psychology Today or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy directory. From there, review their educational background, the therapy methods they use, and whether they specialize in anything further within marriage therapy.
- Consider your budget: Check that what the counselor is charging aligns with your budget. Some might work on a sliding scale basis and can adjust their fees depending on your income.
- Go for an initial consultation: If offered, take advantage of a free initial consultation where you can get a feel of the therapist’s style and ask any questions about their approach and experience. This is a good opportunity to see whether you have a connection with the therapist.
What are the benefits of going to counseling?
Therapy and counseling lay the groundwork for overall relationship satisfaction. While every relationship has its ups and downs, it’s a fantastic way for couples to be able to deal with these ebbs and flows more effectively.
- Improve emotional and sexual intimacy: Specific approaches like emotion-focused therapy (EFT) are shown to help couples form a more secure emotional bond, often leading to improved sexual intimacy.
- Resolve any underlying or persistent issues in the relationship: The primary reason, cited by 66% of people, for stopping couples therapy was because they resolved their issues.
- Helps you avoid major problems in the future: Having clear communication strategies and conflict resolution techniques can potentially help you manage bigger issues down the line.
- Learn how to communicate more effectively: Satisfied couples engage in more positive communication.
- Creates better interaction patterns: Working on interpersonal and communication skills often leads to healthier patterns and habits like active listening, empathetic responding, and effective expressiveness.
Pair Marriage Counseling With Cupla
Professional marriage counseling can turn a potentially challenging journey into a smaller mountain to climb, and combining this with the power of digital tools like Cupla can steer that journey toward a happier, healthier union.
Cupla is an app designed to foster stronger and more fulfilling relationships through couple-centric activities, features like date night planning, and a shared calendar. While your therapy sessions open the doors to improving your relationship, Cupla holds your hand between those sessions to help you take those steps every day.
Ready to take the first step? Download Cupla today!