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Marriage Counseling: How to Start and What To Expect

Are you feeling stuck in your marriage? Is the spark missing from your marriage? Do you question whether there should be more in your relationship? Will counseling even help?

We at the Marriage Recovery Center are here to help you sort out these questions and find answers to your problems. Individuals and couples turn to us when wondering if counseling can help and what they can expect.

Getting Started

Finding the right help is only one of several daunting issues when reaching out for counseling services. When is it time to reach out for help? How bad do things have to be before calling Marriage 911? If you want assistance, how do you find competent help from someone whose values match yours and are likely to offer quality, life-changing intervention?

Once you’ve decided you need help it’s time to ask your mate to join you.

How do you invite your mate to participate with you? Should you be soft and subtle, friendly but firm or downright serious in your presentation? What should you do if you meet with resistance?

These are just a few of the many questions you are likely to face when seeking professional counseling. I’d like to answer them, one by one. While we may not answer every concern, this will offer a starting place from which we can continue a dialogue.

When To Get Help

First, when is it time to reach out for help? It’s time to reach out for help if you believe your marriage is stalled. If you feel distraught and cannot solve marital problems on your own—and this is very common—it’s time to find a professional to assist you into better times. If you feel emotional distance or prolonged conflict, it’s time for help.

Healthy marriages are marked by long periods of joy and vibrancy, with limited times of conflict. Healthy couples like being together, enjoying good conversation, companionship, emotional and physical intimacy. It’s important you remember those good times and contrast your current relationship to the one you’ve enjoyed in the past.

Couples in trouble struggle with emotional and physical intimacy, experience long periods of conflict with only intermittent joy and vibrancy. If you have conflict that you don’t feel confident to resolve quickly and effectively, or experience emotional and physical distance, a qualified marriage counselor is critical to teach you the skills to get your relationship back on track and enjoying one another again.

Finding the Right Therapist

Second, how do you find competent help? There are many therapists who do some marriage counseling, but this is not their specialty. Working with someone who works with children, adolescents, individuals and couples is like going to a general practitioner for heart disease—you need a specialist. Ask your friends, pastor or other professional who has the best reputation for helping marriages in crisis. A good marriage counselor will have developed a solid reputation and is a great starting place. Then, armed with good questions and clear goals, interview the counselor to see if you experience a rapport with them. The proof of their expertise will ultimately be in their results with you!

Inviting Your Spouse to Join You

Third, how do you invite your mate? Asking your mate to join you in marriage counseling may be like inviting your mate to join you in having a root canal, but necessary to alleviate further pain. Be prepared for a less than enthusiastic response. However, if your marriage is in trouble and you have not been able to resolve the issues on your own, inviting your mate to work on your marriage is one of the highest compliments you can give them. You care enough to want your marriage to thrive and proper.

Your approach to your mate in obviously important. Be clear with them about your feelings and exactly what you hope to accomplish in counseling. Let them know this is not a time to find fault but to seek solutions. Reassure them that any criticisms are invitations to change and grow together, noting you are ready to work on yourself, and hope and expect them to do their work too.

What to Expect

Fourth, what can you expect from counseling? Counseling, done by well-trained professionals, should be life-changing. The staff at The Marriage Recovery Center offers solution-focused couples counseling which is both practical and highly effective. You will meet with a caring Counselor who will listen, explore and discover the patterns that cause your distress and offer a clear plan for solutions to those problems. You will learn how to best cooperate with your Counselor to heal the wounds in your marriage setting you on a course of healthy connection.

Facing Resistance

Finally, what if your mate resists counseling? It is not surprising that not everyone gets excited about personal and marital growth. Not everyone wants to spend the time, effort and expense to help their marriage. This makes the situation even more critical and this is a time to be firmer and clearer about the importance of hiring a Marriage Counselor.

What if they adamantly refuse to engage in counseling? This is not uncommon and this will be the moment you determine how critical seeing a Marriage Counselor really is and what you intend to do about it. You may need to set a boundary—a line in the sand with a clear consequence attached to it. You might have to threaten—and even follow through with—a temporary separation if they refuse getting help. Fortunately, in the majority of cases we’ve experienced in our many years of practice, most choose to participate in counseling rather than experience the severity of a separation.

Can counseling be effective with a resistant partner? Most definitely. Again, a skilled Marriage Counselor understands how to engage a resistant partner and will explore ways to make the experience beneficial for both parties.

Take the First Step Today

So, is marriage counseling right for you? We at The Marriage Recovery Center are available to help you determine what level of assistance is right for you. Our clinicians are available to sit with you, in person or virtually, answer your questions about your concerns and explore how marriage counseling can help you. Contact us to learn more here or by calling us at 206.219.0145.


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