Sustaining a healthy marriage takes a lot of hard work. Long-lasting, successful relationships are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. All of them have their problems and it is normal for a couple to go through rough periods. No matter how small or large the problem, if you are unable to resolve it, it is time to seek help. Someone else may be able to point out a solution.
Most couples will benefit from counseling. While professional help is ideal, even a neutral, unbiased friend can listen to your problems and may offer good advice. Seeking counseling is nothing to be ashamed of, nor does it mean that your marriage is on the rocks. In fact, it means quite the opposite. It indicates that you have the resolve to make it work.
Another reality is that not all couples will be able to salvage their marriages. Sometimes, the damage done may be too great or the love that was once there may be truly gone. Nonetheless, the process can help those who really want it. A counselor does not have a magic wand that will make your problems disappear. In fact, the success of this process hinges on about 80% on your efforts and 20% on the counselor's help. Here are some marriage counseling tips that will help you optimize your benefits from the experience.
Acknowledging the Problem
To resolve a problem, the very first step is for both husband and wife to acknowledge that there is a problem. A fundamental problem that most couples face is that one partner fails to see a problem or issue where the other does. Or, one partner may view it as the other person's problem. However, no problem in a marriage is only one person's problem, for if something bothers one partner, it affects the couple, their relationship, and their marriage on the whole. The first step to successfully resolve any problem is for both people to accept that the problem exists.
The second step, and this is a big one, is for each person to take responsibility for any ways in which they contribute towards the problem. It is usually one person's actions or obliviousness towards a subject that elicits a negative response from their mate. It is an extremely rare occurrence that one partner is solely responsible for a problem. Taking responsibility for your actions, words, and deeds, or the lack of them is very important in resolving a problem.
Working Towards Positives
The third step, and probably the hardest, is to be willing to change your behavior. This may include doing or not doing, and saying or not saying certain things. There will be specific things that your partner will bring to your attention. However, as a general rule, the premise is always very simple: if any action, word, or thought will be hurtful to your partner, then you need to put a stop to it. Instead, try to maximize on words and actions of positive affirmation.
Keeping Realistic Expectations
A pitfall to avoid is to have unreasonable expectations from your counselor. The role of a counselor is to help the couple to understand each other better. He/she will guide a couple and help them explore their relationship. She/he will increase their awareness and educate them about how to nurture and sustain a healthy relationship. However, your counselor does not have an instant easy 'fix the marriage' formula. The change is for both partners to make and maintain their relationship.
The duration of counseling on marital problems depends on the extent of a couple's problems and the rate at which they make progress. Sometimes, it may take a while to fix your problems, but it is a worthy investment of your time, effort, and hard-earned money. However, it is important to stay focused on your goal and be patient.
Be aware that counseling is difficult. For that matter, resolving issues in any relationship is hard. It means having to say and hear things that are difficult. It means having to accept that you are wrong. It means dredging up wounds, and hopefully laying them to rest. This can improve or save your marriage. However, it will only work if you believe that your marriage is worth saving.