How to know when you both need marriage counselling

When looking for marriage advice, people often ask the question, “Can my marriage be saved?” or “Can you help us decide if we should stay together?” Jenny and I have been married for over 33 years. There have been most difficult times for each of us. During these difficult times we have called upon help from several different counsellors. Each time it was difficult to ask for help. At times it was hard to afford it. However, we both agree that getting marriage counselling has helped us many times. Perhaps it saved our marriage. I am sure the joy we share in our relationship now is due to getting help many times from many different relationship counsellors. The skills we learned, we still practice today.

It was the joyous change in our relationship that led Jenny into work as a Reletionships Counsellor and me into work as a Relationships Coach. We realised that the counselling worked. We saw how huge the effect was in transforming our marriage, time after time, from one level to the next higher level of trust and love.

Early on in our marriage, as a guy, I guess I found it more difficult to ask for directions. It seems that finding it difficult to ask for help is not exclusively a guy thing.

The questions “Can my marriage be saved?” or “Can you help us decide if we should stay together?” are complicated questions; however, Gaspard (2015) explains that marriage counselling can be hard work for couples and there are no guarantees. Regardless, “you are wise to invest the time to find out if your marriage can be improved”. I’m certainly glad we did. I also know of many, many couples that have improved their relationships because they chose to come to counselling.

It may be that one of you wants to try more than the other partner. Perhaps one of you is not so keen to try relationship counselling. It helps if you both want to try. It seems that the effectiveness of marriage counselling is directly related to the motivation level of both partners and timing (Gaspard, 2014).

It seems timing is an important part in whether marriage counselling works too. It appears that most couples wait much too long to reach out for help repairing their marriage. According to relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help with their relationship. Consider this statistic for a moment. Couples have six years to build up resentment before they begin the important work of learning to resolve differences in effective ways (Gaspard, 2015).

What is important is that you find help early on. If your marriage is having problems, don’t wait too long to seek professional help. Marriage counselling or couples’ therapy and relationship coaching can be very effective, especially if couples seek it out sooner rather than later (Stritof, 2019). So, don’t put off getting relationship counselling before things get too stressful at home. Ask for help early.

How do you do this? Start by finding a relationship counsellor or coach who specializes in marriage or couples therapy. A relationship coach is likely to offer more directive help with the skills you need. Sheri Stritof explains, “They are out there and willing to help. You may have to meet with more than one to find the right fit. It’s important that both spouses feel comfortable with the therapist, so keep trying until you find the right person” (Stritof, 2019).

Sometimes new relationship skills can make an immediate and far reaching difference in the relationship. Stritof explains: John Gottman’s research looks at happy couples for solutions. He has discovered that even though all couples experience conflict in their marriages, happy couples apparently know how to handle their disagreements because of a foundation of affection and friendship. Unhappy couples do not have this skill set (Stritof, 2019). This is where couple coaching can be a helpful remedy.

Gottman notes that “generally, marriage and relationship researchers suggest that the goal of couple therapy should be to change the patterns of interaction, emotional connection, and communication between the partners” (Gottman, 2019). A relationship coach addresses this goal.

Don’t Wait to Get Help

Early intervention often means early rebuilding of a better, more enduring, relationship. Said Sheri Stritof, “If you think your marriage is in trouble, do not wait.​ Seek help as soon as possible. Plan to budget money and time for up to four sessions in case that is what is needed. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get your relationship back on track”(Stritof, 2019). Find professional couples counselling or a relationship coach as soon as warning signs appear.

Finally, decide to be committed to get through the rough patch with the help you are getting. If it doesn’t seem to work, find another counsellor with whom you both feel comfortable working.

About The Author

Henk Ensing coaches couples in skills for joyful, lasting, relationships.

Skilled in role-plays, he coaches couples who want to restore their connection and make their love last. 

Henk applies daily use of the key relationship skills, with Jenny, the girl he married over 33 years ago. Henk offers Relationship Coaching via Zoom across New Zealand. He helps couples in conflict by empowering them with skills right from the first session.

Contact Details

Book a session with Heenk for Couple Coaching 

027 2284 570

References

Gaspard, Terry (2014) Marriage Counseling: Does It Help Or Not?, HuffPost Contributor platform, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/marriage-counseling-does-_b_4655577

Gaspard, Terry (2015), Timing is everything when it comes to marriage counselling, The Gottman Relationship Blog, https://www.gottman.com/blog/timing-is-everything-when-it-comes-to-marriage-counseling/

Gottman, John (2019), The Gottman Blog, www.gottman.com, quoted by Stritof, Sheri (2019), When your marriage needs counselling, VeryWell Mind blog, https://www.verywellmind.com/does-marriage-counseling-work-2300428

Stritof, Sheri (2019), When your marriage needs counselling, VeryWell Mind blog, https://www.verywellmind.com/does-marriage-counseling-work-2300428