You and your partner have decided that marriage counseling is a good fit—you are taking a big step toward a stronger relationship! Once you’ve chosen couples therapy as a helpful option, or even after you’ve attended a few sessions, it’s a good idea to consider how to get the most benefit from your therapy as a whole.
In this article, we talk about practical things that can be done to make your marriage counseling more effective, signs marriage counseling is working well, and examples of how strategies can be applied in real-world relationships.
How to Approach Couples Therapy
There are some things you can do before you begin couples therapy that can improve its effectiveness. If you’ve already had several sessions but maybe want to get even more out of your therapy, it’s never too late to apply these approaches.
It’s About the Couple as a Unit, Not About Each Person Individually
Couples therapy is all about understanding and improving the way you and your partner interact. It isn’t about one person ‘winning’ or someone being forced to change. Focusing on the dynamics within the relationship and the overall goals you have together as a couple is the best approach for getting the most out of couples therapy.
As an example, let’s consider a couple struggling with dividing household chores. Both partners could come to a therapy session and focus on all the work around the house they do, and how one person does far less. However, it is more likely to be an effective counseling session if the couple arrives ready to talk about their expectations of what chores need to be done and how they can work together to achieve or adjust these expectations.
Name Your Objectives and Focus on the Big Picture Solutions
It’s easy to sit down in a couples therapy session and go through the play-by-play of your most recent fight. However, focusing on the broad goals and issues you are having in your relationship is more likely to produce lasting results. A discussion about how a singular fight might be resolved is less likely to produce lasting positive results for a couple. The best path forward to achieving their overall marriage goals is to focus on overall relationship objectives.
For instance, a couple might come into a counseling session in the midst of an argument about how one partner left their wet towel on the floor. Instead of focusing on the details of this specific argument, the couple could name their overall relationship objective that this situation highlights. They could then work with their counselor in the session to come up with the underlying issues that this specific challenge brings up for each of them.
How to Have Effective Couples Therapy
Once you have adjusted your mindset and are approaching couples therapy in the most effective way, there are some additional things you can do to potentially improve your marriage counseling success rate. Making sure you are discussing all of these ideas with your partner and your counselor, here are some tips for making couples therapy more effective once you’ve started.
Do Your Homework
When your counselor gives you ideas or assignments to do at home before your next appointment, prioritize them and commit to taking them seriously and making them happen. It’s easy to get busy with day-to-day life and put off couples therapy homework that may seem silly or make you uncomfortable. But in order to get the most out of your marriage counseling, you need to put in the work during sessions and at home.
For example, a counselor might recommend that a couple sits down individually and makes a list of things that their partner does that makes them feel happy before their next session. If each person puts off doing this, then scribbles down a few superficial things moments before the next session starts, they are unlikely to get much out of the exercise. If each partner spends time really thinking of times their partner was thoughtful and caring this exercise will be more effective. It will give the therapist more to work with in future sessions and foster more positive feelings for the relationship overall, too.
Be Willing to Work on Yourself
If you go into couples counseling thinking that your partner is the only one who needs to change, you are much less likely to have the most effective counseling experience. In fact, coming in with a long list of things your spouse must change could be on the Marriage Counseling: What Not to Say Checklist. It can even be helpful to come into therapy with more goals for yourself than your partner, because you have more control over your own actions and beliefs than anyone else’s.
Let’s look at an example of a couple coming to therapy to try to rekindle the romance in their marriage. If one partner comes with a list of things they want their spouse to start doing to be more romantic, it is less likely to enact lasting change. However, if that partner comes in thinking about what they consider romance and what they can do to themselves to create that within the relationship, the therapy session will likely be more effective.
Well Marriage Counseling: Building Stronger Relationships for a Brighter Future
Ultimately, more effective marriage counseling isn’t about how many times a week you should go to marriage counseling or the average length of marriage counseling. It’s about the mindset you and your partner come in with, and focusing on your biggest relationship objectives when you’re there.
Well Marriage is the nation’s largest relationship specialty center. All our counselors are couples therapy experts with years of experience helping people just like you. We know how scary it can feel to start therapy, and we want to take as much of the guesswork and uncertainty out of the process as we can.
You are on the right track for considering how to make your marriage better! Schedule an appointment with us to take the next step on your journey.