Relationships are complex and multifaceted, and each one is different. This can make it challenging for couples to navigate through friction and conflicts that inevitably arise throughout the course of their lives. For couples seeking guidance, marriage counselling is a valuable resource. More and more young couples are turning to professionals to help address these issues and improve their relationships, and they're seeing positive results.
Knowing when to seek marriage counselling is crucial for the health and success of any relationship. It is essential to recognise when professional help could be beneficial, so you can both take a proactive approach to resolving conflicts. Some indicators that counselling may be necessary include an ongoing pattern of negative communication or a feeling of emotional disconnect between partners.
If left unaddressed, this relationship may reach a point where salvaging it becomes impossible. Engaging in marriage counselling at the appropriate time can lead to a stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling relationship for both partners.
What is Marriage Counselling?
Marriage counselling, also known as couples' therapy, is a short-term focused treatment. After about 4-6 sessions, participants may see an improvement, but it may take many more to fully resolve their issues. A professional counsellor guides couples through this process, providing them with tools to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem-solve, and even argue in a healthier way. Despite the name, it's not exclusively for people who are married! Marriage counselling is just as useful for couples who are dating, or in any relationship with an emotional connection.
Some common topics addressed in marriage counselling include communication, shared responsibilities, and a loss of emotional connection. By attending sessions, couples learn to navigate these challenges and make informed decisions about their future together. Ultimately, marriage counselling aims to strengthen the bond between partners and foster a more harmonious and fulfilling relationship.
When Should You Start Seeing a Marriage Counsellor? 3 Signs of a Troubled Relationship
Here are some signs to look out for. If you experience these in your relationship for an extended period, or go through multiple at once, it may be worth considering counselling.
One clear sign that a relationship may need professional intervention is constant arguing between both parties. Disagreements are natural in any relationship, but when you have the same argument over and over, it may be time to seek help. Marriage counselling can provide couples with the necessary tools and techniques to communicate more effectively, manage conflicts, and work towards resolving these issues.
A Loss of Trust/Betrayal
Trust is a fundamental aspect of any healthy relationship. When a betrayal occurs, such as infidelity or some other major incident, it can be incredibly difficult to rebuild trust. In these situations, seeking assistance from a marriage counsellor can be invaluable. They can provide guidance and support as the couple works through the feelings of hurt, anger, and confusion that often accompany a breach of trust.
Loss of Physical Intimacy or Emotional Intimacy
Another sign that may indicate a need for marriage counselling is the loss of affection or intimacy in the relationship. Couples can experience a decline in emotional closeness, affectionate behaviour, or a decline in their sex life for various reasons, including stress, personal issues, or simply drifting apart over time. Marriage counselling can help couples identify the root causes of these changes and work towards re-establishing affection in their relationship.
What Can I Get Out of Marriage Counselling?
Oftentimes, couples worry about whether marriage counselling works in the first place. However, many find that their relationships improve significantly after going through professional sessions.
Marriage counselling aims to equip couples with the necessary tools to maintain a healthy relationship, and an experienced couples therapist can help them build their communication skills. Many relationship conflicts stem from communication gaps or misconceptions. A marriage counsellor guides couples in recognising patterns that may hinder effective communication, and offers practical solutions to address these communication issues. This makes couples more likely to resolve conflicts amicably and build a stronger foundation for their relationship.
When Does Marriage Counselling Not Work?
Marriage counselling is effective, but sometimes, a married couple has underlying issues that are too severe to be resolved by a professional. Not every problem is on the same level, and if you're experiencing any of the following, you may want to temper your expectations when seeking out counselling.
Your Problems are too Deeply Ingrained
Sometimes, the issues within a marriage may have become deeply ingrained over the years, making it difficult for the couple to work through them effectively in counselling. It is important to recognize that marriage counselling may not magically resolve long-standing patterns of negativity or unhealthy communication, especially if they've compounded over countless incidents and experiences.
There are Untreated Mental Health or Addiction Issues
Marriage counselling can be less effective when there are untreated prior issues present in the relationship. Issues such as substance abuse can create barriers to communication and progress within counselling sessions, making it difficult for the couple to address their relationship concerns fully. It is essential to seek appropriate treatment for mental health or addiction issues before participating in marriage counselling to maximise its effectiveness.
The Relationship is Abusive
If abuse, whether physical, emotional, or verbal, is present in the relationship, marriage counselling may not be the best option. In cases of abuse, it is critical to prioritise your safety and well-being first. Seeking individual therapy, outside support and resources, or helplines may be more appropriate in such situations. One example is the National Anti-Violence and Sexual Harassment Helpline (NAVH) (1800-777-0000).
One or both of you have decided the relationship is over
Marriage counselling is most effective when both partners are committed to improving the relationship and working towards reconciliation. If one or both individuals have already decided the relationship is over, there's no point in engaging in counselling just to humor one party. In these cases, it may be more beneficial to speak openly with your partner about your separation, and explore alternative options during the process.
Can Marriage Counselling Save a Marriage?
Marriage counselling can indeed save a marriage, as it provides couples with the guidance and tools to navigate relationship troubles. In a safe and neutral environment, a professional therapist helps partners communicate effectively, develop empathy, and resolve conflicts. However, the success of marriage counselling lies in the willingness and active participation of both partners.
Counselling has been proven to result in a smaller percentage of divorces among married couples. This demonstrates that marriage counselling can effectively salvage relationships. By seeking professional guidance, both you and your partner can create a nurturing environment that fosters growth, understanding, and a lasting partnership.
Here are some quotes from customers who have been through our Couples' Counselling sessions:
“I first saw Cassandra with recommendation from my brother-in-law who had seen her previously for his set of problems. Cassandra has been really professional, thoughtful and empathetic in helping me manage my marital issues and my personal mental well-being. My sessions with her always helped me get more clarity and provided me some guidance in what my next steps should be. I encourage anyone with any set of problems to have Cassandra as their go-to person because she is that beacon of light and voice of reason when you are at your darkest and lowest point in your life. Thank you, Cassandra, for making me see hope when I thought all is lost.“
“At first I was skeptical that going to a counsellor would solve the problems in my relationship but because of the hard times we were going through I decided to give it a try. Throughout several joint sessions Cassandra gave us – in a very professional and caring way – a different mindset and view on how our partner feels and reacts and she taught us concrete techniques to deal with conflict. I can easily say that I wouldn’t be in a happy relationship now if it wasn’t for her counselling.”
Making the Decision with Your Partner
Seeking guidance from a professional therapist can help you navigate through your relationship troubles. When you decide to undergo counselling, it is essential to have realistic expectations. Therapy is not a quick fix, nor does it provide immediate solutions to your problems. Instead, it offers guidance and support to help you and your partner overcome challenges and achieve a healthier relationship.
One of the key factors to consider when seeking counselling is your choice of therapist. It is beneficial to choose a counsellor who holds certification in a respected method. This ensures that the therapist has undergone sufficient training and can provide couples with effective and evidence-based techniques. It's vital to choose a therapist that you and your partner are both comfortable with. Spend time discussing it with them, to make sure you're both in agreement.
With the assistance of an experienced therapist, couples can work together to find solutions and achieve a more satisfying and healthy partnership.
Seek out Relationship Counselling with Cassandra Chiu
Cassandra Chiu is a professional therapist with a decade of experience as a psychotherapist, counsellor, and accredited coach. With a Masters in Professional Counselling, and experience in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, she has the right knowledge to help couples overcome the differences in their union.
In a partnership with a skilled counsellor like Cassandra, couples can find strategies to overcome their challenges and work towards building a stronger bond. To learn more about the process, contact us to arrange an appointment, and find out more about Marriage Counselling here.