“Marriage is so easy!” – said no one, ever. From dormant trust issues to co-parenting conflicts, every couple hits roadblocks in their marriage.
Enter marriage counseling.
Whether you’re having major trouble communicating or just want to smooth out some minor kinks, marriage counseling a great way to work through patches of all kinds.
Here’s what you can expect from a marriage counseling session, when to consider going, and what to look for in a marriage counselor who’s right for both you and your partner:
What is marriage counseling?
Though the name implies you have to be married to attend, marriage counseling is actually therapy for couples of all sorts who are in committed relationships.
Couples meet with a therapist once a week for several weeks or months to address and resolve challenges that the relationship is facing.
The therapist provides techniques and communication tactics to help couples navigate the difficult conversations and provide problem solving techniques.
During these sessions, couples are able to increase awareness of current patterns of interaction and cultivate problem solving techniques that ultimately increase satisfaction in their relationship and with themselves.
The structure of each session varies based on the therapist, but they are typically facilitated by the therapist guiding conversation and encouraging open communication and suggesting any tips as they see fit.
When to get marriage counseling:
Here are a few signs you and your partner would benefit from attending marriage counseling
1. Communication is not the same
Did your relationship start out strong with daily dialogue and open-ended communication?
Or are you finding that you are talking, but it’s always negative or just a means to an end? Or maybe you’re simply afraid to even talk or bring up issues with your partner.
If so, allowing a therapist to enter into the non-communication hurdle you and your partner are experiencing and offer guidance and effective ways to communicate might help.
2. You find yourself keeping secrets
There’s a strong line between privacy and keeping secrets from your partner.
Secrets can range from financial infidelity to thoughts of being unfaithful. Allowing yourself or your partner the opportunity to air these secrets in a safe space of counseling are healthy way to navigate them.
3. Your sex life has changed for the worse
Sex is an important part of many marriages – and when it changes, or someone within the relationship feels their needs are not being met, a strain can occur.
Seeking out therapy to understand where the change is coming from or why the change has occurred is mutually beneficial and can help revive your marriage. Sex therapy is also an option for addressing most bedroom concerns.
4. When an ongoing problem just doesn’t go away
It’s impossible to be in a relationship with someone where you share the same viewpoint on every issue.
But when those issues becomes more than just an occasional debate, you might have a larger problem on your hand. These issues can range from the number of children you want, communication issues as new parents, to religious beliefs and ideologies.
Seeking counseling to work through them and learn effective communication skills is a great place to start.
How can we find a good marriage counselor for us?
It’s important to know that every marriage counselor is different, so you and your partner should look for someone you both feel comfortable with.
Take your time looking for the right therapist – that might mean coming up with a list of questions you want to ask, then scheduling an initial call. You can even have separate calls for each of you, to make sure you both trust the therapist.
You might interview three or four different therapists until you find your perfect match.
It can also be helpful to clarify your goals together before starting couples counseling. Sit down and discuss the following questions together:
- How do we want to grow together as a couple?
- What is our conflict style? Does it need work?
- Could we improve the quality or frequency of our intimacy?
- Are we ever abusive to each other? If yes, how?
- Do we have shared goals?
- Do we need to work on listening to and validating each other?
Once you have a clearer idea of what you want out of therapy, it can be easier to find a therapist who’s prepared to help you meet those goals.
How much does marriage counseling cost?
Marriage counseling costs vary, depending on the therapist and the couple’s insurance coverage.
For example, marriage counselors in NYC on average cost between $150 and $250 for a one hour session; in Rhode Island, marriage counselors cost on average between $80 and $125, and in Boston, marriage counselors cost between $90 and $150 per session.
However, with insurance coverage, a one-hour session may cost the couple as little as a $20 co-pay. Ready to find the right marriage counselor for you and yours?