Marriage and Couples Therapy
All marriages run into snags from time to time. Some partners are quick to think of divorce, but is that just the easy answer?
Can you relate to any of the following issues:
Fighting between us is unfair and or cruel.
Intimacy and sex in our marriage is gone, or very infrequent.
Hitting, shoving, kicking, etc. is happening.
Communication between us is going in circles.
My spouse seems too much like a parent.
Our personalities seem incompatible.
The D(ivorce) word has come up.
The relationship is unbalanced, and only one of us is trying.
Is he/she having an affair?
We rarely resolve our family problems or disagreements.
He/she is unable to compromise.
We always fight about money.
We can't agree on how to raise our children.
His/her family is always getting in the way.
Skills can be taught to:
Improve communication for the couple.
Learn to "fight" fairly in your marriage.
Develop better problem solving skills with your spouse.
Understand how the family you were raised in colors your current picture.
Prioritize and take positive actions towards your goals.
People, particularly couples, are hesitant to seek the help of a therapist. They think, "Why spend money to hear a counselor tell me what I already know!" or "I don't want to go and tell a complete stranger about our personal problems!" While a therapist may tell you what "you already know", he or she will also be able to offer solutions. In couples/marriage therapy, a therapist acts as an impartial mediator. The therapist may guide the couple to understand how their relationship works and how to relate to each other in more adaptive ways. Then the couple may learn how to listen and make compromises and see things differently. Sometimes, bickering about small things is actually about something larger (is it really that your husband never cleans or is it that you don't feel supported by him?). Couples or marital therapy, can be very brief and focused (how to talk about finances) or can continue for several years. Generally, couples meet with their therapist once a week.
Couple or marital therapy includes many kinds of therapy:
Individual Marital Therapy: Both partners go to the same or different therapists separately.
Conjoint Marital Therapy: Both partners go together to see a therapist. This is the most common method.
Group Therapy: Several couples meet with one or two therapists.
It is important to recognize when you and your partner are having problems. Many therapists have said that couples often wait too long to seek help. By the time many couples begin therapy, problems have escalated making reconciliation more difficult. Problems in a relationship do not have to become crises before seeking help. The earlier a couple begins the therapy process, the more heartache they can avoid.
Marital Therapy or Divorce?
If you have tried marital counseling or think it has already gone beyond that, it is possible that you need to begin to protect yourself, and prepare for a divorce. Not every couple's problems can be solved. There are several precautions that everyone should take. Divorce coaching may be useful. This can be accomplished either individually or together as a couple. For persons facing separation and divorce, counseling can still be helpful, in order to make the ending more peaceful. If there are children involved, then there are many non legal issues that need to be addressed which a therapist can help with. The children's needs are of the upmost importance. They are fragile and do not have the experiences of an adult to fully understand what divorce means. Fighting parents only makes this worse for them. It is important to put aside your anger and deal with what is best for the kids. They need two parents to love and who love them. As much as you may be angry with your spouse now, the children do not need to know that. Even in difficult situations, they usually want both parents to stay together and generally do not take sides unless the parents manipulate them to. They should never be forced into a position where they have to decide. It is not their decision to make.
Obviously there are many emotional decisions to be made during a divorce or separation process which a therapist can help with. If a divorce is inevitable, than divorce mediation is a good alternative to fighting it out between two lawyers. This is a process where both partners sit down with a divorce mediator (usually a lawyer and/or psychologist) and work out all the details of the divorce in a civil manner. It is far less expensive than getting two separate lawyers, and usually both partners feel they have won some issues and not lost as many. Of course it requires a certain degree of cooperation and acceptance for this process to work.