Tips to Help Marriage Counseling
Every marriage faces challenges. Marriage counseling is a healthy and productive option for resolving marital conflicts and finding common solutions to not only preserve the relationship but to make it better for both parties. Not every married couple can or should ultimately stay together, but effective couples’ counseling can help parties either resolve their differences or find an amicable, responsible path toward separation. Our compassionate New Jersey family law attorneys have a few tips for married couples entering therapy.
Focus on Shared Goals
One of the most important factors in making marriage counseling successful is to know what you are working toward. It is normal for one or both partners to be unsure as to whether staying married is the best thing to do, but going into counseling with different agendas will make the process much more difficult and less effective. Do your best to go into counseling with both partners sharing the goal of saving the marriage, even if that is not how things ultimately wind up.
Give it Time
Marriage counseling is not going to save your marriage in a single one-hour session. It requires time and commitment to be effective. If you can, try to commit to at least six months of counseling and mutual relationship work. While the situation might feel hopeless in your first session, after a few weeks or months of work, you could find yourself in a much better place. If you have made no progress after six months, then you can shift focus to other options.
Successful counseling requires full, open participation. Do not try to sugar-coat your needs, opinions, or feelings in order to avoid creating problems or seeming like “the bad guy.” Your therapist’s office should be a safe space where you can express all of your concerns so that you, your spouse, and your therapist can work through them together. Certainly, it is important to be mature, respectful, and hopeful during therapy, but it is also important that you share your truth.
Work on Yourself and Your Marriage
Successful marriage counseling is likely to require both partners to work on themselves as well as the marriage. You and your partner likely each have habits or behaviors that are contributing to the issues in your relationship. Counseling is meant to root out those behaviors so that you and your partner can work toward a solution.
Be Fair With Yourself
While it is important to take responsibility for your faults in the relationship, it is also important to not let guilt overwhelm you. Everyone makes mistakes, and the point of counseling is to get past them. Your guilt should do no more than motivate you to make different choices in the future; you should not wallow and beat yourself up. Give yourself the same level of understanding and forgiveness that you are giving your partner.
Save the Difficult Conversations for Therapy
Therapy is a safe space that offers a platform for having difficult conversations about your relationship. It is normal for these discussions to become emotional, and even to turn into an argument; your therapist is there to facilitate the conversation and mitigate the heated emotions. Moreover, seeing your dynamic, and even your arguments, will help your therapist better understand the specifics of your relationship and how best to help you. Saving your tough conversations for the therapist’s office will give you a better opportunity to work through the issues that arise and help your counseling prospects overall.
Trusted Advice and Representation from Qualified New Jersey Family Lawyers
If you need effective legal help with child custody, divorce, child support, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.