Marriage isn’t easy, even for the most compatible people. Over the course of a long-term relationship, things will inevitably change, and therefore each partner’s needs may evolve. While maintaining a marriage takes a good bit of effort, most couples who make it through those challenging times agree that the effort is well worth it. And here’s some good news– marriage counseling, (also known as marriage therapy or couples counseling) can help you get to the other side of your problems. Here are some of the benefits:
1. Better Communication
Almost every couple that walks through my proverbial door (many of my clients are still virtual!) cites communication problems as one of the main reasons for their visit. Marriage counseling is a great way to help partners not only develop stronger communication patterns, but also uncover why the less effective ones were there in the first place. When we know why we do things, we create internal motivation to change. This is much more effective than trying to change the behavior alone. Your therapist can help you feel more heard by your spouse and facilitate more meaningful conversation.
2. Deeper Connection
Drs. John & Julie Gottman have proven that couples who have a deeper friendship with each other have a foundation sturdy enough to last a lifetime. However, sometimes the chaos of life can get in the way of that friendship. It’s extremely easy to fall into the thought that you already know your partner, so that part of the relationship is over. But as stated earlier, things will inevitably change, and your partner may change as a result. Getting to know each other is a continuous process, and marriage therapy can help you get back into the routine of it.
3. Eased Resentment
Old wounds can linger in a marriage, and it can be extremely challenging (if not impossible) to get to a better place without confronting those issues in a safe, non-judgmental environment. A professional trained in marriage therapy can create that environment for you, and help you practice bringing up your concerns in a way that is still respectful of your partner. There are ways to express how you feel without leading to defensiveness in your spouse, and a couples counselor can help you do it.
4. Fewer Arguments
Similarly, in marriage counseling couples learn skills to deal with new conflicts that may arise. Sometimes just changing the language we use can help avoid a fight. Sometimes learning how our partners are likely to interpret something based on their own individual experiences can lead to change.
5. Better Conflict Resolution
Again, life is complicated. Sometimes we say the wrong thing, get dysregulated, and we hurt each other. Sometimes we have strong differing opinions which are difficult to get past. So when the fight can’t be avoided altogether, we need two things. One is to fight fair, and the other is a repair plan for afterward.
Of course, one of the advantages of marriage therapy is that it can help with both. In couples therapy at Prologue, we help you identify the Four Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse, or the four communication “tells” that indicate a relationship is on the decline. That’s how you learn to fight fair. We also help you learn how to ground yourself after a fight and comfortably re-address the conversation when you’re back in your logical state, so resentment doesn’t build.
6. Stronger Support
When partners strengthen their friendship, and learn these new skills for conflict resolution and strong communication, they find that they feel better supported. Better communication also means getting better at asking for support when needed, which is often a challenge in marriages where defensiveness and resentment have built.
7. The Final Advantage of Marriage Therapy is Shared Goals & Priorities
If you think of the tenets of a healthy relationship like tiers on a pyramid, shared goals are at the tippy top. These other skills are the building blocks that allow couples to create shared meaning together. This means more cohesion in your family, stronger traditions, and support for each other’s life dreams.