The average couple is in marital distress for six years before seeking marriage counseling services, according to marriage and relationship expert John Gottman. That’s a long time to struggle with recurring issues, what Gottman refers to as “perpetual problems”, and the resentments and hurts that accompany them. Married couples that are struggling often feel overwhelmed by their problems and feel there is no way to tackle their problems. Here are a few of the ways in which marriage counseling can be helpful to couples.
The overwhelming majority of couples who are seeking marital counseling identify communication as their number one issue. With the assistance of an experienced marriage counselor, couples can learn how to improve communication patterns that may have eroded the quality of their relationship. Couples can learn to listen fully to their partners, and begin to identify and label destructive communication patterns on their own.
Change Your Perspective
Motivated couples can begin to explore their issues from a new perspective and learn new ways to identify and resolve conflicts as a result of the tools they acquired from the therapist. Couples can then adopt new strategies to manage conflict, and more importantly, how to repair after conflict.
Identify Unhealthy Patterns
Both individuals and couples have the tendency to fall back on certain default patterns they have developed for relating, creating an autopilot effect. Couples can learn to view relationship patterns as the enemy, or culprit, instead of each other.
A couples therapist can provide a neutral place to help couples agree upon and work through difficult issues with support. Couples often benefit from an objective, neutral party who can facilitate healthy communication, keep the couple on track in terms of focus, and observe and address negative interactional patterns in the moment. Couples are very often not aware of these patterns as they occur in the moment.