Our relationships with those we love can be the source of our greatest joys. Unfortunately, despite Hollywood’s depictions of marriages made in heaven – complete with a beautiful musical score in the background – most marriages are far from perfect.
The reality is that making the most of a romantic partnership between two unique individuals – each with their own beliefs, values, and personal histories – requires determination, energy, and effort.
All marriages have their highs and lows, their achievements and setbacks, and each new turn along life’s path brings about new challenges. Even the happiest, most loving couples face periods of uncertainty or adversity that can threaten their relationship. The question isn’t how to avoid such challenges altogether, but whether or not you and your partner can work together to achieve your common goals and move forward with confidence and optimism. Fortunately, professional help is available for couples who need it.
There is a common misconception that marriage counseling is only for relationships that are in trouble or facing some sort of crisis. While most couples seek counseling under these circumstances, couples therapy can also be extremely beneficial for any two people who want to better understand one another, improve their communication, and strengthen the bonds of intimacy and love between them.
In fact, attending marriage counseling sooner rather than later can help you prevent the types of problems and crises that can seriously threaten your relationship. The following are just a few reasons why you may want to consider marriage counseling:
- Appreciate Each Other’s Uniqueness – When we first begin a relationship, we tend to either idolize or overlook our partners’ unique personality traits. As the “honeymoon phase” begins to wane, our attitudes often change and what we once saw as quirky or cute can become troublesome or irritating. Couples therapy can help both you and your partner rediscover and celebrate each other’s uniqueness as individuals.
- Overcome Differences in Parenting Styles – We all have different family values and beliefs, many of which come from our own childhood experiences. Marriage counseling can help you and your spouse avoid subconsciously invoking past experiences when raising your children and consciously determine mutually agreed upon goals and parenting methods that will allow the two of you to parent together effectively.
- Resolve Financial Difficulties – Financial difficulties are one of the more common issues that lead couples to the brink of crisis. The loss of income or increased debt due to unemployment or an illness can place tremendous strain on a partnership. While counseling isn’t going to help you find a job or pull you back into the black, it can help your partner and you navigate and resolve your financial difficulties together without taking the problems out on each other.
- Navigate Cultural Differences – If you’re in a partnership with someone from a different cultural background, couples counseling can help you maintain and celebrate your partner’s and your unique traditions while working through any cultural differences that are the source of tension in your relationship.
- Cope with Grief and Loss – The death of a loved one is one of the more tragic experiences any of us will ever face, and each of us deals with death differently. Unfortunately, some people find it difficult to cope with their partners’ grief, which only creates additional relationship tension. Counseling and therapy can help both the individual who is grieving and his or her partner navigate the grief process and move forward together again.
- Enhance Your Intimacy and Sex Life – One of the defining characteristics of a romantic partnership is the romance! If it feels that your sex life is lacking, or that you and your partner aren’t as intimate with each other as you once were or would like to be, couples counseling may be able to help.
- Improve Your Communications – At the beginning of a relationship, partners often spend hours and hours talking about anything and everything. Yet, as time passes, it is not uncommon for couples to find they only talk about mundane matters, work, or the kids, if they talk at all. The health of any relationship rests on its communication. Marriage counseling can help you prioritize and create time and space for the two of you to reconnect and begin openly sharing all aspects of your life together again.
These are just a few of the reasons couples seek professional counseling. But, regardless of the reasons, the key determinant of successful marriage counseling and the future happiness of your relationship is your partner’s and your desire to make your relationship the best it can be. If you’re interested in better understanding your partner and your relationship, improving your interactions and the time you share, and increasing your relationship’s intimacy and joy, couples and marriage counseling can help!
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