Many couples engage in couples counseling not knowing what to expect. Some might come in with the hope of improving their communication or conflict resolution skills, however, most couples expect their significant other to do most of the work.
According to relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help. Research has also shown that factors such as client’s attitude, beliefs and fears are key elements in predicting success in couples counseling. Therefore, it is important to understand that it will take commitment and an understanding of the process of counseling in order to experience change.
If you desire to have success in couples counseling, here are three components that will most likely ensure success.
1. Ability to Listen and be Humble
Counseling provide both you and your significant other a safe environment and a neutral zone to be open and honest. The goal is to practice openness in order to allow yourself to be vulnerable with your partner by sharing those feelings and thoughts that might otherwise be masked by anger, frustration or sarcasm. This will likely create empathy and compassion in your partner.
If you are the listener, you may have heard your partner’s requests or feelings in regards to your relationship issues about a hundred times. However, CHOOSE to listen and do so without interrupting. Practicing the simple skill of listening can promote trust and improve healthy communication.
2. Willingness to accept responsibility and Change
Often times, couples engage in therapy with the hope of “fixing” their partner. Unfortunately, this approach only perpetuates the problem. Instead, focus on your own personal growth. Identify the areas in your life that would be problematic in any relationship and accept responsibility for your own behaviors within the relationship that has contributed to the problem. Sometimes, relationships are like mirrors, they can reflect areas in our characters that are in need of change. Focus on your own growth. If both partners are focused on being self-aware and taking responsibility for their actions, there is a higher chance of success in counseling and in couple satisfaction.
In addition, some couples might also expect their counselor to “fix” their relationship within 3-4 sessions. It is important to understand that some of the negative patterns of interactions and resentment in your relationship were build over time. Which means, it will take time to learn how to resolve your differences in effective ways. The role of your counselor is to provide a safe environment and help you and your partner understand your unique contribution to the problems in the relationship and provide you with the tools to work through those problems. Both you and your partner have to be willing to put the work into your relationship in order to have success.
3. Prioritize Couples Counseling.
In order for couples counseling to be successful, couples must set aside time to prioritize their relationship both in and out of session. It is important to plan ahead. If you have young children, it is important to find childcare in order to attend your sessions consistently. It is also important for couples to set aside time outside of their weekly sessions to connect in order to build on the skills that they are learning.
In addition, the following article can also help you further understand marriage counseling
If you have tried to work out your differences with little to no success, therapy might be your last resort. If so, why not give it all you got? Couple counseling can be a great tool when you feel stuck. If you are looking for a couple therapist or marriage counselor, let’s connect (860) 593-4908 and see if I am a good fit for the both of you.
Nardine Starovererov, LMFT
The Wellness Star Counseling Services