5 Essential Habits to Improve Your Marriage Counseling Experience
A couple of the most common questions I get asked as a marriage counselor is does marriage counseling work? If yes, then what needs to happen to make it work? If you work with a trained marriage counselor (I specify that because many counselors don’t have “marriage counseling” training beyond what they received in school), they are going to be able to show you the habits that are needed to create a healthy relationship. The purpose of this article is to address some of the habits you need to make your marital counseling experience work well. I have seen in my professional experience couples who have a successful outcome in marriage counseling exhibit these 5 habits:
You are willing to take a hard look at yourself first for what needs to improve in the marriage.
It is so easy for us to point the speck in our brother or sister’s eye, but we as people often miss the glaring beam in our eye. Most people get stuck in the addressing everything wrong with what their spouse is doing they usually forget to ask the question “what I am doing to contribute to this cycle?” We are prone to having blind spots and not seeing the truth. Time in, time out, the marriages I see make progress always start with both individuals having the ability to address their own faults and failures first.
You are willing to put the weekly time into your marriage.
Like most types of growth, I am talking about taking intentional time to be focusing on how to improve your relationship. We love to invest hours of our time into growing a business, scrolling on social media or binge watching your favorite show; but why do relationships get put on the back burner? The most important relationship of your life needs your full time and attention. Yes, I said weekly time devoted to this. Which brings to the next point.
You are willing to meet with your counselor consistently.
I know I am a little biased here as a counselor, but if there was a way to make monthly marriage counseling work, I would be the first to let you know. The couples I see meet weekly do wonders to their marriage. When there are set backs (yes set backs are a normal part of the experience), they are often addressed much faster and we get back on track. Usually if a couple meets consistently together, I often see them off to the races after a few months. The spacing sessions out too early or continuing to ask the questions “how long does this take” often threatens the amount of progress that can be made, going back to the previous point of not having enough time dedicated to the most important relationship.
You can see and communicate the positive qualities in your spouse.
Yes, this has been backed as a key healthy relationship habit; the ability to see the positive in the other. Often our minds can get so jaded from stress, it blocks our ability to see the qualities that attracted us to our spouse in the first place. A key habit for couples to make progress in marriage counseling is the ability to affirm the progress they are seeing each other do from week to week. It is amazing to watch a dialogue start with affirmation; they usually turn out very healthy. Starting with criticism and negativity often breeds further disaster.
You can show mercy and forgiveness from the past.
I have seen marriages navigate all sorts of garbage from the past, if they are willing to give their spouse a chance to be their best self. Now I am not saying just let everything go; I encourage couples to work towards active reconciliation. But true forgiveness requires not continuing to rub all those mistakes from the past in their face each time they mess up. Often, if couples see each other working to better the relationship, this helps with understanding that the old relationship is dead and they are bringing new life together to their marriage.
I hope that brings clarity to improving your marriage counseling experience. If you are doing these habits together with your spouse, you are going to be in a place of moving in the right direction. I understand there are many marriages where someone is too stubborn to do the work right now or refusing to change. I encourage please seek individual counseling for how to best address this concern. I welcome visiting my marriage counseling page to learn more about the marriage counseling I offer as well.