Many people who come to marriage counseling come with the misguided notion or misconception that a marriage counselor fixes marriages. That is simply not so. The marriage counselor is there to help you and your spouse figure out if your marriage can be fixed and saved, but it is not the job of the marriage counselor to fix what is broken. Here is what the marriage counselor actually does, and why you should come to the meetings prepared to accept the tasks and work set for you.
Marriage Counselors Help Facilitate Open Communication
Nine times out of ten the reason why marriages are struggling is that couples are not communicating. The counselor gets the couples talking, and not just small chit-chat. The purpose is to get people to spend more time talking about what bothers them, what their needs are, what they want to work on together, what they hope to accomplish, and why the problems they have are such a major headache to one or both partners. Sometimes people enter a marriage with poor communication skills to start with, and these communication skills do not improve over the length of the marriage without considerable training and practice. That is the first thing the counselor does; help couples learn to effectively communicate and listen to each other.
Counselors Steer Direction
Couples unable to determine if their marriage should continue are actually looking for direction. Most counselors will help steer couples, but not in the direction of divorce or staying together. Instead, counselors ask important questions about what brought couples together, what made them want to marry, and what is driving a wedge between them now.
Couples have to examine if the same things that existed at the beginning of the marriage are still there, or whether things like trust and respect were ever really part of the marriage from the beginning. In short, the counselor neither forces couples to break up or stay together. The counselor just steers couples to determine for themselves if the marriage was a good one from the start or it probably should never have occurred in the first place.
For Couples That Really Want to Stay Together, Counselors Provide Relationship-Building Exercises
Marriage is work. Marriage is a partnership. Too often, one person assumes that a lot of the work falls to the other, or expects that the other person will just do everything. That is not how a marriage is supposed to go. If you want to stay together, you have to put in the work equally. Your marriage counselor will give you relationship-building exercises that you will need to work on on a weekly basis to help your marriage. You might be surprised at how well these exercises work when you both want to work at your marriage