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How many times have you heard a friend say their relationship was in trouble, only to have someone say ‘have you tried counselling’. Or some variation of that story. But the point is the same – people often turn to marriage counselling when there is a problem in their relationship, but they are approaching it all wrong.
Look at it this way. When you purchase a car you take care of it. You wash it, keep it fuelled up, you might even hang one of those green pine trees in it to make it smell nice. And, most importantly, you get it serviced regularly. You would never wait until your car broke down before you got it serviced.
But that’s exactly what we do to our relationships.
Actually, a lot of the time it’s even worse! We drive around in our broken down cars until the engine blows up or drops out of the car completely, and then take it to get serviced in the hopes it can be put back together… We run our marriages into the ground, creating irreparable damage, and then as a last ditch effort, seek out counselling to ‘fix’ what is broken.
This is exactly why I always suggest for ALL couples to go to marriage counselling, not just wait until their relationship is breaking down.
Here are a few more reasons why:
We May Need To Learn How To Be In A Relationship
For some people, relationships don’t come easily. It can be difficult to share our space, share ourselves and communicate with someone else. This doesn’t mean we don’t love them or that we don’t want to be in a relationship with them, it just means we need to learn these skills.
Seeing a marriage counsellor can help you with that. A good marriage counsellor will have a wide range of tactics to help all kinds of couples communicate effectively, open up in relationships and help them learn how to be confident in their marriage.
While it’s easy in the early stages of marriage to overlook these things, or to just brush them off, as your marriage grows and you work on strengthening your marriage, learning how to communicate effectively and how to move through the challenges your relationship may face together, can be invaluable.
An Outsider Point Of View
Sometimes, having someone who is separate from your relationship and who is not emotionally involved to help and give advice can be such an eye-opener.
Obviously, we are emotional about our relationships, and we are protective of them. And, most people don’t like to admit when they are at fault or may need to fine-tune some of their approaches.
Being told this by our partner can cause conflict if not delivered well, however when you have a third party tell you that the way you are communicating may not be the most effective, you’re far more likely to be open to the constructive criticism.
This isn’t a bad thing or a poor reflection on you, it’s just how we try to protect ourselves in relationships.
Having an outsider share their point of view can help you see things a little differently.
A Professional Approach
While an outsider point of view can be valuable, you also want that outsider to be a professional. You wouldn’t go to a butcher and ask them to fix the motor in your car, so don’t go to your friends and ask them to fix your marriage.
By seeing someone who is trained and specialises specifically in marriage counselling (or relationship counselling), you’ll be talking with someone who not only has the expertise to help you, but also has the knowledge to share and skills to impart to help you create your own strong relationship.
On this note, your relationship with your counsellor is important. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, or confident in them, then move on to a different counsellor. There are people we just don’t gel with, and if it’s your counsellor it’s important that you don’t try and push something that isn’t working. A good counsellor won’t be offended and will understand the importance of the patient/counsellor relationship.
Prevention Is Better Than A Cure
We all would agree that preventing issues in a marriage is far more beneficial than trying to cure them when they arise. So why not take measures to learn the best methods of prevention?
Like we said earlier, communicating in a relationship is a skill. We don’t get to practice at it until we are actually in a relationship, and it’s absurd to think that we should be perfect at it right from the start. It takes time, refinement and practice.
Going to a marriage counsellor is like getting your car serviced. It’s good to do it before there is a problem, so you can tune things up a little and make sure that everything is running smoothly.
A Polish And Shine
Sometimes it’s really good to be told you’re doing something well, and the way you handle your relationship is no different. You may find that when you go to a counsellor, they will offer ways for you to tweak your approach, or maybe they will assure you that what you are doing is good and to keep going with it.
Having someone tell us we are doing the right thing can increase our confidence and help us feel assured that we are heading in the right direction, including in our marriage.
Going to a marriage counsellor isn’t meant to be just for when your marriage is on the rocks. In fact, that’s probably one of the worst times to go because there’s already so much damage done. All couples should go to a marriage counsellor before there are any issues so they can service and give attention to their marriage in the way it deserves.