Whether we talk about automobiles or the family home, regular maintenance is a must. If an individual defers maintenance, the loss of property and money could become quite devastating. In the same way, it is always advisable to submit our most intimate relationships to regular maintenance through counseling. Yes, you can engage in a regular diet of counseling even when the fundamentals of the marriage feel very safe and secure.
Maintenance on the front end
I advise couples to engage in at least two hours of marriage counseling every year whether or not there are any recurring issues in the marital bond. Licensed family counselors regularly see “healthy couples,” offering them additional interpersonal tools that will help them sustain the good traits of the relationship while also helping them identify and ponder future issues. Luckily, most employers offer their employees up to six hours of counseling per year on “the company dime.”
Sometimes, couples deal with acute and/or corrosive relational stressors that demand immediate attention in a therapeutic setting. If your relationship is already at this stage, counseling is an immediate must if the vitality of the relationship is to be sustained or improved.
Interview counselors, as a first step, as selecting a good counselor is very important. Is the counselor well-versed in dealing with the kinds of issues that are burdening your relationship? Is the counselor “green” or does the counselor come to the issue with hundreds of hours of direct work with couples in dire straits.
When to run instead of fix
A word of caution. If your partner is identified as having a “personality disorder,” you will certainly discover that the prospect of effective couple’s counseling is significantly reduced. The old adage “it takes two to tango” is certainly apropos in this case. Individuals with personality disorders have a very difficult time empathizing with their partners. In these situations, therapies and support groups provide the greatest likelihood of healing and skills acquisition. If your partner is absolutely unwilling to partner with you in the reception of couple’s therapy, I am afraid, counseling will not help. You may find that individual therapy for your own grief and anxiety is the most effective path forward.