Marriage is a widely accepted union that involves a legal, emotional, financial, and physical relationship; however, it can be very complex as with any intimate relationship.
Marriage and other monogamous relationships require imperfect, flawed human beings to navigate an unforgiving complex world. While forming a solid bond is not without struggle, pain, and suffering, happiness and connection, camaraderie, friendship, and love are well worth the effort.
With all the passion and pain that goes into forming a long-lasting and stable relationship, we examine the marriage counseling process to learn what it is, its different methods, and the benefits of Therapy.
Marriage Counseling Explained
The term “marriage” is believed to have been coined in 1250-300 CE in Middle English, describing a way of uniting families. In the past, arranged marriages were made for financial reasons rather than for the love of one another (Uglow 2017, 2017). At first, marriage was effective procreation, security, and security. Nowadays, marriage is based on practical economic, social, psychological, and emotional factors. Since the expectations of what a marriage is supposed to be and ought to look like have risen, the displeasure, conflict, and the struggle to fulfill the expectations have also increased. Counseling for marriage is an excellent solution to bridge the gap between expectations and reality.
The term “marriage counseling” is often referred to as “couples counseling” and is intended to resolve conflicts and strengthen relationship relationships (Mayo Clinic, 2020). It can be beneficial in all types of intimate relationships regardless of marital or sexual status.
In Therapy, couples are taught skills such as creating open communication and practical problem-solving and how to address disagreements rationally. Teams are encouraged to talk about their relationship’s positive and negative aspects, identify issues, and think about how things can be improved. Most therapists say they take the “eclectic” approach to couples counseling. However, specific, evidence-based strategies prove effective (Holt-Lundstad, Birmingham, & Jones (2008)).
Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)
Emotion-Focused Therapy concentrates on emotions and creates resilient attachment, secure attachment, and positive relationships (Nakonezny and Denton 2008).
This can be particularly beneficial for couples affected by trauma, stress, previous emotional traumas, abuse, and severe cancer-related health issues.
Behavioral Couple Therapy
The Therapy for couples focuses on behavioral changes by helping clients understand how their behaviors affect the people surrounding them.
The Therapy includes Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, which focuses on accepting emotions and behavior changes. It assists couples in identifying problematic behavior patterns that pose a threat to their relationship. After placing them, couples can discover new ways to interact to benefit their relationship.
Traditional Behavioral Couple Therapy is focused on improving interpersonal and problem-solving abilities (Nakonezny and Denton 2008).
The Gottman approach
The Gottman method assists couples in forming stronger bonds by using a model known as”the Sound Relationship House. The model is backed by more than 40 years of studies conducted through the Gottman Institute. The goal is to create emotionally intelligent partners, attune to each other’s needs, and form a relationship based on faith and commitment (Gottman 2020).).
Counseling for discernment
This innovative way of counseling is designed to address the needs of couples when one of them is contemplating divorce (Nakonezny and Denton 2008). The spouse seeking divorce is “leaning out,” while those who wish to improve the relationship “lean in.”
The primary goal is to understand the thoughts of each spouse instead of resolving marital issues. It’s a brief session that helps to determine if intense counseling is worthwhile.
How Does It Work?
Emotion-focused Therapy, also known as EFT, is among the most effective counseling methods for couples.
It is a method to modify how people interact among couples in distress (Robles, Slatcher, Trombello, and McGinn 2014).
EFT can help couples alter their reactions to strengthen their emotional bonds and create secure attachments. This kind of Therapy is not suitable for couples who have been in a relationship that is abusive or separated because one of the primary objectives is the development of an emotional bond and secure attachment.
In any counseling for couples, the first session usually involves exploring the person and the relationship. It is generally described as a process of growth in a relationship.
The efficacy that marriage counseling can have is based on the level of motivation of each spouse. Gottman (2020) states that most couples will wait six years before they seek Therapy to rekindle their relationship.
As with individual Therapy, it’s crucial to set goals, and a timeline, for treatment (Gaspard 2020). The plans can be anything in scope, from finishing the relationships positively to improving relationships and intimateness. Goals may change throughout Therapy but generally, revolve around learning or relearning crucial skills like forgiveness, patience, trust, selflessness, and managing stress.
In general, counseling for relationships will include homework that is not part of the sessions with counselors. Couples need to practice what was discussed in the session and tackle the issues they face daily. The typical homework assignments could include having an evening date with no technology, attempting physical touch without sexual activity, reading the relevant books and discussing them, making active listening a habit, making a “safe word” for arguments or disagreements, etc.