Here are some things to keep in mind when considering marriage counseling:
It might be hard to talk about your problems with the counselor. Sessions might pass in silence as you and your partner remain angry over perceived wrongs — or you might yell or argue during sessions. Both are OK. Your therapist can act as a referee and help you cope with the resulting emotions.
You can go by yourself. If your partner refuses to attend marriage counseling sessions, you can still attend. It’s more challenging to mend a relationship this way, but you can benefit by learning more about your reactions and behavior. Some people need only a few sessions of marriage counseling, while others need it for several months.
The specific treatment plan will depend on your situation. Sometimes, marriage counseling helps couples discover that their differences truly are irreconcilable and that it’s best to end the relationship. Sessions can then focus on skills for ending the relationship on good terms. You might have homework. Your counselor might suggest communication exercises at home to help you practice what you’ve learned during your session. For example, talk face-to-face with your partner for a few minutes every day about nonstressful things — without any interruptions from TVs, phones, or children. You or your partner might need additional care. If one of you is coping with mental illness, substance abuse, or other issues, your therapist might work with other health care providers to provide more complete treatment. Making the decision to go to marriage counseling can be tough. If you have a troubled relationship, however, seeking help is more effective than ignoring your problems or hoping they get better on their own. Sometimes taking the first step by admitting the relationship needs help is the hardest part. Most individuals find the experience to be insightful and empowering.