There are the obvious reasons that couples decide that they need to seek counseling. Affairs, an out of control addiction, or if the divorce word is getting thrown out in a serious manner are several of the reasons that couples come to see me. Of course, the issue with seeing couples who come in for one of these crisis events is that there is a ton of resent, anger, and hurt feelings already built up. Do not get me wrong, coming in for one of these events is in no way a death sentence for your marriage, but it does make the process longer and more difficult. It is similar to a medical condition. If caught early a medical condition can be much easier to treat with less pain or medication. If someone lets a medical condition go untreated it can cause a longer and more difficult treatment. Marriage counseling is similar. We can help a marriage that is at a crisis or at the breaking point, but why not come in before your marriage gets to that point?
For some reason there can be a stigma associated with counseling. If you seek counseling you must be “crazy” or you marriage must be at a really bad place. It is unfortunate that this stigma exists, because it can keep couples from seeking counseling earlier in their marriage. Marriage counseling can be beneficial to a marriage at any stage. It can be helpful because it is hard to see our own issues or dysfunction. It is easy to point out others or to see what changes may be helpful in others lives’ or marriages, but it can be really hard to be honest about what we need to change to be happier and healthier in our own life or marriage.
How many of us say. “If she would just ____ everything would be fine.” “If they would have more date nights or spent more time as a couple their marriage would be happy.” Again it seems to be human nature that we are quick to point out what others need to be happy in their relationships, but can be more difficult to be honest and open about what we need. A big part of this is that issues and dysfunction are definitely generational. They are passed from one generation to another. If the dysfunction is something we have grown up in, it can be really hard to see that it is not working for us or our partner. If your parents never had date night or never got a babysitter to do something without kids, it may be hard for you to understand why that would be important to your spouse or why he/she wants to do it often. Having a trained non bias third party to help you see this can be invaluable. It can be hard where you spouse is coming from about date night so imagine how difficult it may be to see your spouse’s point of view on a bigger issue! Your spouse can often be one of the most difficult people to take feedback from as well. Our spouses can hit our buttons and bring up reactivity and pain since we are closer to them than anyone else. It can be so much easier to hear feedback about yourself and your relationship from someone who is not able to trigger that reactivity in you!
I often wish when I am working with couples that they would have started counseling before they did. Couples can sometimes come in with years or even decades of anger and resent that could have been prevented from building. If your car is not working you go to a mechanic. If there is something not working in your body you go to your doctor. If you need some honest, bold, clear feedback about your relationships Healing Hearts of Indy is here for you!