5 Reasons to Seek Marriage Counseling
Marriage counseling isn't just for struggling couples anymore. With ongoing shifts in household roles and workplace expectations, more couples are investing in the opportunity to stay aligned with their partner.
Here's why you should consider a relationship tune-up, with feedback from those who have been through it.
1. Having kids is stressful on a marriage, healthy or not.
John Gottman writes in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work that 70 percent of wives experience marital dissatisfaction in the first year after their first child is born – with husband's frustration soon to follow.
Why? Gottman provides Nora Ephron's Heartburn analogy: “A child is a grenade. When you have a baby, you set off an explosion in your marriage, and when the dust settles your marriage is different from what it was. Not better, necessarily; not worse, necessarily; but different.”
Because parenthood immediately and drastically changes all aspects of a couple's routine, getting help to build a road map together can be beneficial.
2. An objective audience.
Let's be real: It's not always your spouse's fault. When you're knee deep in the trenches, that can be difficult to remember – along with where the argument really started.
Marital counselors can help a couple wade through old wounds so you can face forward instead of continuing to have the same argument. As Sara of Little Mushrooms explained, “I think with any counseling session, you have to hear the things you really don't want to hear. You have to look at your own demons and well as your partner's.”
3. Learn better communication skills – for home and beyond.
You will never regret learning to communicate more effectively. In your home life, regardless of whether or not you stay married, you are investing in your ability to co-parent.
As Shannan of Tween Us points out, these benefits extend beyond your marriage as well: “It was helpful to learn and also be accountable for using ‘I' statements and reflective listening. Those are techniques that have helped me communicate better with others, including relatives and co-workers.”
4. Clarify goals and expectations.
Susan, a mother of four who has been through several rounds of counseling with her husband, says setting clear expectations has helped them navigate unexpected moves, growth of their family, and juggling the kids at the end of the work day.
Whether it's managing day-to-day activities or setting goals for the landscape of your future, learning to clearly express your needs to your partner – and in advance – staves off disappointment.
5. Divorce negatively impacts children.
Divorce impacts our kids. An analysis done by Paul R. Amato and Bruce Keith confirmed that children with divorced parents struggled more with academics, conduct, emotional well being, and interaction with peers.
Because of this, any chance to repair your marriage means an opportunity to protect your kids. Andy, a father of four, commented: “I once heard a useful metaphor for the value of counseling. If you broke your leg, you would not expect you could heal it yourself. So why is your broken heart or spirit less worthy of professional help in faster and better healing?”
If your marriage is irretrievable, the time spent in counseling can, if nothing else, provide peace of mind that you have done what you could. As Tara of Red & Company said, “No matter how much you love someone, if only one person in the party is willing to change, then that's not enough.”
Have you gone through marriage counseling? What did you take away from it?