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7 Marriage Counseling Questions to Strengthen Your Relationship

Marriage counseling questions allow you and your partner to dig deeply into issues, identify root causes, and remember why you fell in love in the first place. A couples therapist can guide you through these questions, offering marriage counseling tips to promote productive conversations. Some answers might be hard to hear, but the resulting discussions usually lead to a healthier, stronger relationship. 

But what questions are asked during couples therapy, exactly? If you haven’t been to couples therapy before, it’s helpful to know what to expect. A great place to start is this list of the seven most popular marriage counseling questions compiled by our relationship experts here at Well Marriage Center.

What Kinds of Questions Do Marriage Counselors Ask?

When you first start counseling, there are common questions marriage counselors ask so they know how they can best assist you. Here are a few you might encounter: 

  • What’s the timeline of your relationship?

You’ll need to spend some time in your initial counseling sessions giving your therapist the background story of your relationship. Run through the major events, like getting married, having kids, changing jobs, experiencing trauma, and anything else that sticks out to you. With this context, your counselor can provide unique solutions to support you and your partner or spouse.

  • What did you initially admire in your partner when you first met?

It’s easy to forget what made you fall in love, especially in the midst of hard times. This question is meant to remind you both of those happy experiences in the early days of dating. Thinking positive thoughts about your partner can help balance the stress of sorting through your current relationships challenges.

  • What are your communication styles?

Styles of communication are typically divided into four categories: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. The assertive style is what couples should strive for. It involves asserting your own needs through direct, honest, and respectful communication. If communication is a weak point in your relationship, not to worry—a licensed counselor can walk you through couples therapy exercises for communication to get you both where you want to be. 

  • Why did you seek couples therapy?

Some couples seek counseling purely to strengthen their relationship, but most couples usually have problems they want to address. Studies have shown that some of the top relationship stressors include lack of commitment, infidelity, too much arguing, financial problems, substance abuse, health problems, and lack of familial support. Responding to this question is the time to put these issues on the table and address what you hope to achieve in counseling.

How Can I Make My Marriage Counseling More Effective?

If you’ve taken the time to read through these questions and consider them in the context of your own relationship, you’re already on the right path. As long as you and your partner are willing to put in the work, you raise your chances of coming out the other side stronger than ever. 

However, an experienced and skillful marriage counselor will certainly help! Our team of licensed counselors at Well Marriage Center are well-versed in pro-relationship practices and relationship science. These counselors have aided couples in overcoming almost any challenge you can think of, from parenting issues to infidelity and beyond. 

Whenever you think the time is right, you can start the marriage counseling journey by filling out our short intake form. Our intake coordinator, Melinda, will walk you through the process and answer any question you may have.

We’ve heard the same statement from couples after counseling time and time again—“I never would have imagined our relationship could be this good again.” We would love to help you and your partner feel this way, too.

What Questions Are Asked During Pre-Marriage Counseling?

Pre-marriage (or pre-marital) counseling questions are designed to ensure you and your partner are on the same page before committing to marriage or some other milestone “next step.” Even if you’ve been together for years, you can still benefit from revisiting these questions as your relationship evolves.

  • How should you handle your finances?

There are so many factors to consider when it comes to managing finances together as a couple. It’s quite common for people to have different views on the many aspects of finance, and these differences can lead to uncomfortable arguments if not properly addressed. A good place to start is figuring out if you want joint or separate bank accounts. Then you also need to consider how you both feel about other big financial decisions, like credit cards, mortgages, loans, savings, financial goals, retirement, paying bills, and budgeting in general.

  • What do you want your physical intimacy to look like?

At the beginning of a relationship, the newness of it all can make sex and physical intimacy feel magical and exciting. And while many may think that spark fades with time, it doesn’t have to! Talking about exactly what you want from each other physically is the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

  • What are your beliefs, morals, and values?

This is a big question, but maybe one of the most important. While it’s not impossible to make a relationship work with someone who has different values, it’s definitely not easy. When you align in these areas, it’s easier to approach whatever the world may throw at you as a team. Talk through topics like religion, politics, trust, ethics, respect, kids, birth control, and any other values that are a priority for each of you.

A licensed premarital counselor can help you navigate these questions with your partner, no matter what stage of the relationship you are in.




 

Marriage Counseling Tips

If you find yourself unable to communicate with your spouse, it can be difficult to make positive changes in your relationship. Whether it’s consistent arguments, minor disagreements, or avoidance, marriage counseling is an effective way to revitalize a marriage. Marriage and couples counseling can help with issues such as financial concerns, life changes like a new job, stress of children, disagreements in general, and any communication breakdown that couples might face together. 

In this article, we’ll explore tips for couples counseling, marriage counseling questions to strengthen your relationship, and even tips to support you in a dating or premarital counseling journey if you’re not married.

How to Prepare for Couples Counseling

Preparing for couples counseling begins with exploring you and your partner’s needs, goals, and expectations. Counseling can be daunting if you don’t know what will happen during your session, which might leave you asking, “How do I prepare for my first couples counseling session?” Below are five tips to help you get ready for your first couples counseling session:

1. Be Open-Minded 

With all of the stigma surrounding marriage counseling, it can be difficult to admit it is time to take action . You might think you should be able to do it on your own, but ultimately it is beneficial to seek help, if only to have a safe space for conflict resolution. Counseling sessions often include in-depth conversations about your relationship like setting expectations, goals, your intimacy, sex life, and expressing needs. 

Marriage counseling is a learning experience that helps you and your partner identify problems and develop strategies to overcome those problems. You can also expect to:

  • Discuss your fears and manage their effect on how you communicate with your partner.
  • Learn how to effectively communicate and resolve conflicts.
  • Understand your partner’s past experiences and how they influence their actions.
  • Express your needs in a healthy way, without anger or resentment.
  • Consider how you handle situations to be less reactive and more proactive.
  • Rebuild and renew your relationship with your partner.

By going into counseling with an open mind, you’ll be able to better utilize the tools provided to you during your sessions. 

2. Discuss Shared Goals

What do you and your partner want to accomplish during marriage counseling? Do you want to address sex and intimacy issues? Is healthy communication a top priority? Is there financial stress or big life transitions like a new job or baby? Are you finding yourself arguing more and more? You can explore several questions with your partner to set goals for your counseling sessions. It is worthwhile to lay out all of the issues you both think are important to focus on before meeting with a therapist. 

A few marriage counseling questions you can work through with your partner before attending your first session include:

  • What are the key challenges in your relationship that you wish to resolve?
  • What do you want to accomplish with marriage counseling?
  • Do you and your partner have the same goals?
  • If not, what goals are most important to each of you?

3. Set Realistic Expectations

Understanding what you’ll gain from marriage counseling is important, but it can be easy to set unrealistic expectations before you begin. Counseling won’t solve your problems overnight; it takes work. However, you shouldn’t expect to get into the nitty-gritty during your first meeting with a therapist. The first counseling session is intended to introduce yourselves to your therapist, give some background information, and establish goals and priorities. 

As you continue your sessions, realistic expectations of marriage counseling should be:

  • Finding an unbiased third-party that listens to and understands your conflicts.
  • Identifying and addressing systemic issues that affect you and your spouse.
  • Developing solutions to address areas of contention and implementing them at home.
  • Learning how to communicate with and listen to your partner in a safe setting.
  • Maintaining commitment, appreciation, and love for your partner during and after the process.

Ultimately your expectations should be to effectively communicate with your partner and attempt to resolve issues that have driven you apart.

4. Identify Your Feelings and Assumptions

Marriage counseling can help you address some personal issues as well. If you find yourself assuming your partner no longer loves you, doesn’t care about your emotions, or isn’t attracted to you anymore, it is important to vocalize those sentiments in a safe space. Before you go to your first session, you should ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I assume my partner’s feelings about me or our marriage?
  • Do I think my partner is capable of change? Why?
  • Has my partner addressed these issues with me in the past?
  • Do I project my feelings onto my partner?

These tough questions can help you better understand your emotions and perceptions of your partner’s feelings. You want to address these during couples counseling sessions, so your therapist can help you navigate these sentiments.

5. Search for a Therapist/Counselor

Once you’ve set your goals and identified areas of improvement, you can search for a marriage counselor that meets your needs. Finding a qualified therapist might take some time, as you should ask questions to make sure they’re the right match for you. 

Some questions for a potential therapist you might want to consider include:

 

  • What do you believe makes a relationship successful?
  • How many of the couples you’ve helped see improvement due to your counseling?
  • How do you determine when it is appropriate to end counseling?

Remove any negative questions like, “What’s your opinion on divorce?” and aim your attention on how you can succeed. Some counselors might focus on weaknesses right off the bat, but providers like Well Marriage Center take strengths-based and marriage-first approaches to help you build a foundation for success in your relationship.

Many marriage counseling exercises will have you examining your goals and expectations, being prepared will help you navigate those difficult discussions together. Be sure to focus on what you need as an individual and a couple and find a therapist to revitalize your relationship.

What Questions Do Marriage Counselors Ask At the Beginning?

Marriage counseling can lead to great success in your relationship. If you’re considering marriage counseling, you might not be sure what to expect. Here are three questions that will come up during your beginning counseling discussions:

Who Are You? What Is Your Story?

Before you dive into the in-depth conversations, your therapist will want to get to know you, your partner, and your marriage. This will help them understand your dynamics as a couple, what is important to you inside and outside of the marriage, and any concerns you may have. Your therapist will get to know you so they can help you make your sessions beneficial for your relationship.

What Do You Value About Your Relationship?

In marriage counseling, you need to focus on the strengths and dynamics of your relationship. This includes discussing the pieces of your marriage that you value the most. What draws you to your partner? How do they make you feel? What do you appreciate about them? Understanding what you value—and how you are valued—leads to a stronger emotional connection in your marriage. You’ll be able to explore how those values impact your marriage now and into the future. That will be beneficial in creating a strong and lasting marriage. 

What Do Marriage Mean to You?

Sometimes partners have different ideas about what marriage means. That is not a bad thing! However, it’s important to discuss expectations that are new or have changed if you’re struggling to communicate them clearly. Are there any roles you expect your partner to fill? Answering these and similar questions will help you understand what your partner expects from you in your marriage and how that aligns with your beliefs. 

These questions will help therapists get to know you and your relationship better before diving into the nitty-gritty details. Also be prepared to discuss any expectations you have for counseling, disagreements or successes between you and your partner, and what you think is most valuable to focus on during your sessions. Counseling takes time and effort and you shouldn’t expect to solve your concerns during the first session. Set expectations and goals from the beginning and you will find more success.

What to Say in Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling is about working together, and any conversations about reaching goals, navigating disagreements, and addressing personal feelings are greatly encouraged. Aim to have conversations with your spouse that promote healing within and outside of counseling sessions. During your counseling plan and counseling sessions, you should:

  • Ask tough questions of yourself and your partner to uncover underlying issues.
  • Be open and honest about your feelings without accusing or demeaning your partner.
  • Instead of attacks, use communication techniques like “I feel” statements.
  • Revisit and reflect on past discussions outside of sessions and address any concerns in the next one.

Don’t shy away from the tough topics! Growth can be difficult without facing issues head-on. At Well Marriage Center, we promote healthy discussion that leads to restoring marriages and believe that a strengths-based approach leads to success. Your sessions should help you to strengthen your marriage, not tear it down.

How Can I Make My Marriage Counseling More Effective?

Successful and effective marriage counseling relies on clear communication. By addressing the issues within your marriage openly, and with guidance, you’ll see more success in your sessions. Here are a few tips for effective marriage counseling:

  • Avoid negativity, accusations, and attacks. Aim for positivity and collaboration.
  • Focus on changing yourself—not your spouse—and communicate your needs clearly.
  • Seek to understand your partner’s perspective and learn to accommodate their needs.
  • Remember—it’s not about you, it’s about us. You both deserve respect and attention.
  • Keep in mind your therapist will help guide you through discussions and isn’t picking sides.

While there are many more tips on effective marriage counseling, remember that you and your spouse both need to put in the work to make it successful. 

Do I Need Marriage Counseling?

While only you and your spouse can determine whether it is time for marriage counseling, here are a few concerns to consider: 

  • Consistent negative communication 
  • Lies
  • Secrets
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Blame and Defensiveness
  • Contempt
  • Withdrawal and feeling lonely

It can be difficult to navigate situations with your spouse without clear communication, which is a major source of relational issues. If you or your partner are unsure about pursuing counseling, it can be helpful to answer these questions and determine whether or not you want to choose this option:

  • Do you trust your partner? Why or why not?
  • Are you being dishonest with your partner?
  • Do you view your partner as an antagonist (the “bad guy”)?
  • Do you consistently have arguments? Are they frequently about similar issues?
  • Have you become indifferent about your marriage?
  • Do you compromise on important issues? / Do you have to get your way?
  • Do you feel safe physically and emotionally?

If you’re experiencing any distress while answering these questions, reaching out to a marriage counselor might be beneficial . Well Marriage Center has several resources for you and your partner to make the best decision for your relationship.

What Percentage of Marriage Counseling is Successful?

Marriage counseling works! Several studies have determined that 70-75% of couples who attend counseling are successful at renewing their marriage. However, don’t expect your relationship to be perfect after one or two sessions. On average, couples counseling lasts between 10 and 25 sessions, so there is plenty of time to identify and resolve any issues you’re facing as a couple. 

How Do You Succeed In Couples Therapy?

At Well Marriage Center, we help couples overcome hurdles, interrupt unhealthy cycles, strengthen their communication, heal attachment wounds, and revitalize their relationship. Our strengths-based approach enables couples to identify their strengths, rather than focusing on weaknesses. We don’t see a difference between couples therapy vs marriage counseling. When it comes to building relationships, we find counseling an important tool for all couples. 

We want to build your relationship up! Let us support you in making your marriage counseling experience a success. If you’d like to build a happier, healthier relationship, contact us by filling out our intake form and setting up a call with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda.


 

Success Stories: Karen and Peter

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Karen and Peter:

I know that we’re not the only couple to experience an affair.  I know it happens to people more frequently than you would think. But it had never happened to any of my friends or family, so when I found out about it, I was completely devastated. I would never blame anyone for being done with their cheating partner, but too often I think people believe that’s their only choice.

We don’t hear about couples who survive affairs, and it does happen.  I’m living proof that you can survive an affair and still be married to the same guy.

I wanted a female counselor, which is one of the reasons I found Mary. I’m really glad it was Mary. She certainly gave me time and space to talk about what it was like to be cheated on, how I felt, how angry I was, and how hurt I was. But the bigger thing she did was help me (and us) understand the affair as a symptom of bigger problems we didn’t know how to fix. It was my choice to stay and work on it. It was also his choice to stay and work on things. Now we are working on understanding what was unhealthy about our relationship and we’re working on making it better. It takes some time. It also takes working on yourself.

I wish we could have done this years ago because I definitely think it might have prevented all this.

What I’ve learned is after an affair, you cannot stay the same in your relationship. You cannot stay the same in life. You have to decide and then change. Whatever you decide, don’t carry the hurt and pain without talking to someone. Don’t do that to yourself.  If you decide to work through it, give Mary a call.  You and your husband will feel comfortable with her.  We’re really glad we did.

 

 

Success Stories: Kevin and Paula

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Kevin and Paula:

“After thirty some years together, I had always thought our marriage was in good shape, and that the ‘bumps in the road’ were typical of most marriages. But it was only after my wife took the step to reach out for help through the Well Marriage Center that I began to face the reality that from my wife’s perspective and experience things were not as good as I thought, and no matter how much our marriage may have been typical of any relationship of substantial duration, there was always room for improvement.

From the first conversation we had, I had to face the fact that making the time to listen to each other was sorely needed in ours.

While I questioned at first whether we needed outside help to do so, I’m so glad now that my wife pressed the issue and that we have followed through on our commitment to each other to make the investment of time in our marriage and to work on making our good relationship better. I’ve benefited from the time that we’ve had to really listen to each other at our sessions and for me to put many of my assumptions and my explanations aside and to really hear my wife’s frustration with my patterns of behavior over the years.

Our process individually and together at the Well Marriage Center has also helped us build on what was and is a good relationship by taking the time to recognize what has made it such.

I’ve particularly benefited from identifying the ruts that I’ve fallen into that seem to go hand in hand with us men and that, while benefiting me on many levels in my life, tended to isolate me and work against me in my relationship with my wife.

Being able to talk with the therapist and coach, and with my wife, about those behaviors in a non-judgmental and accepting environment has been liberating and relationship changing. Looking back, I wished I had pursued such an opportunity much sooner.

In truth, I’m amazed that my wife put up with me as long as she did, and at the same time I’m grateful that she gave me this chance – certainly way beyond a second chance – to work with her at the Well Marriage Center on smoothing out our bumps in the road. Many of which have been my own.


 

Success Stories: Sydney and Andrew

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

Sydney and Andrew:

“My wife and I had been married 22 years when we came to Well Marriage Center for help. Sydney is a night-owl and has always liked reading in bed until late. I had found a new job that forced me to be up early in the morning. I started sleeping in our guest room and bringing my clothes with me for the next morning.

Before we knew it, I was pretty much living in the other room and we were stuck in a rut. We had been sleeping apart for about 3 years, which destroyed our intimacy and had us both feeling very disconnected with each other.

I don’t think I realized how alone each of us felt in our marriage until Sydney told me she didn’t know if our marriage would make it–she described it as a “catastrophic disconnection.”

We needed help. What we appreciated about Michael Fronce from the very beginning was his confident and warm demeanor. He spent the first meeting learning all about what had initially attracted us to each other and what had allowed us so much marital success before now.

I swear, we left that first session feeling really upbeat and hopeful; that set the tone for all the work we were about to do. Michael worked with us on the concept of “us” and the concept of “team.” He helped us explore some pretty deep attachments we had formed and how they had been injured, damaged or rerouted over the previous few years.

He wanted me to be honest with this write-up, so let me just say, it’s really vulnerable work.

Good marriage counseling probably doesn’t work unless you are both able to humble yourselves. But when you start to feel that trust come back and that safety come back…it’s worth it!

Sydney and I together decided to redesign our bedroom and create a space we could both feel good about and comfortable in. We had equal say and worked through it with Michael. Over the past several months we’ve broken out of our ruts and have changed our routines. We’re feeling truly excited to have our connection back.

Bottom line: we felt really confident in Michael from the very beginning, which was a big deal for both of us considering we had friends who had bad marriage counseling experiences. We could tell he knew what he was doing.  I’d recommend him to all my friends. Both Sydney and I have told Michael that his support, knowing we weren’t alone, had made all the difference in the world.”


 

Success Stories: James and Susan

On the vulnerability of sharing success stories:

Sometimes a couple wants to share their story. We’re really appreciative of the vulnerability and trust such a feat takes, and we hope you appreciate these stories as well.

(Names have been changed to preserve the author’s privacy.)

If your relationship is struggling, or if you feel empowered to take preventative steps to keep your relationship in a good place, we’re here to work with all couples who are willing to put in the effort.

Great relationships can be built, rebuilt, and sustained.

James and Susan:

“A year ago I made the strongest decision of my life: I decided to ask for help with my marriage. I guess you would say my wife and I had the “typical” suffering marriage. We talked less and we fought more. It seemed like we were always critical or negative. We withdrew from each other in almost every way. Marriage became harder than it had ever been before. I finally agreed with Susan to give counseling a try.

I wanted to choose Glen for a variety of reasons, but the main one was because he’s done a lot of work with men, especially around anger issues.  I didn’t really have an anger problem, but I figured someone who could help angry men probably wouldn’t be a waste of my time or money. Susan liked his experience and focus on couples therapy. (We actually agreed on him.)

I know I’m supposed to do more of our story than a testimonial, so I’ll just start with this: I had no idea what to expect in couples therapy. I didn’t know if it would be easy or if it would be really hard.  To be honest, a year later, I think it’s a little of both.

The first month was definitely the hardest because a lot of stuff bubbled up to the surface. Luckily, Glen did two things that probably helped save us. First, he integrated a lot of positive behavior stuff. I didn’t think it would be that great but it was remarkably effective and really changed the way we spoke to and acted towards each other. He’ll be able to explain it better if you see him.

Second, he confronted me early on my work issues. This was a big issue for us, but Glen did it in a way where you could definitely tell he’s worked with guys before.

I didn’t want to storm out of his office. It was a breakthrough for me and led to some really powerful re-prioritizing.

We haven’t been in weekly counseling sessions for a whole year. We saw Glen pretty regularly for a few months while we worked through a bunch of stuff. Then we saw him once a month or once every 2 months just to check-in and talk together about our progress.

Now we’ve decided to see him 1 or 2 times a year.  It’s more of a preventive thing (he calls it wellness) so we don’t run into the problems we had before. He knows us now and what we’ve been through which we really appreciate. We’re excited to start building on the strengths of our relationship.

I’ll say this to close: you have to be willing to make some changes in your life and in your marriage. The good news, at least for us, is that your relationship really can get better. I agree with the other couple who wrote their story and said 10 months ago they never believed their marriage could be this good again. Susan and I have experienced that too and that’s why we wrote this story for Glen.  He really did help us and we’re incredibly grateful for the way in which he did it.  Good luck with your new center Glen, you’re going to do a lot of people good.

 

 

What Not To Say During Couples Counseling

Before you decide to go to marriage counseling, it can seem a bit overwhelming. What are the right things to say? Is there anything you shouldn’t say? Of course, these fears can get in the way of open and honest communication between you and your partner. But couples counseling is about working together, and some things shouldn’t be said—like accusatory statements or hurtful comments.

So, when it comes to marriage counseling and what not to say, it’s important to remember that it is a team effort and everyone’s feelings should be considered and respected. 

 

Most often, couples don’t feel worse after marriage counseling. In fact, it can be incredibly successful—75% of couples, on average, are able to rekindle their relationship through couples therapy. In this blog, we’ll talk about one of the common marriage counseling issues: communication.

3 Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner

In marriage counseling, tensions can get high when confronting complex  issues head on, even with a plan and a great  therapist. It’s important to remember that even in the heat of the moment, you should never attack or accuse your significant other. Remember the saying that you can’t take back what you say? That stands true, especially in vulnerable situations like couples therapy. While voicing your concern is important,  there are productive ways to speak with your partner, even in tense situations. Here are a few things you should never say to your partner. 

1. Attacks

In the heat of the moment, it might be tempting to say something you know will hurt your significant other’s feelings. Whether that’s something like “You’re so selfish!” or “I wish I never met you!” it’s important to approach those feelings in a constructive way. Attacks only produce resentment, hostility, and more distance. In a counseling session, the counselor should guide you through a productive discussion that avoids attacks and instead leads you to voice your frustrations in effective ways. 

2. Accusations

Accusing your significant other of things like intentionally hurting you or even “If you really loved me, you’d do x for me!” can place a huge burden on a relationship. If you have concerns about the way your partner approaches certain issues, you can make that known through techniques like the “I feel” statement. Try, “I feel…frustrated and overwhelmed when you don’t help me clean the house,” instead of, “You need to help me clean the house!” Of course, a marriage counselor can help you navigate those feelings and communicate them clearly and in a non-accusatory way. 

 

3. Blame

It might be tempting to make your partner feel guilty by bringing up something hurtful they’ve done in the past. But blaming them for how you feel isn’t fair. Significant others can hurt your feelings, but it’s often not an intentional outcome. Imagine you were out with friends and forgot to text that you were safe, and your partner’s response was telling you, “You must not love me because you don’t respect me and my feelings.” That’s a pretty harsh response to an honest mistake. Marriage counseling can help you avoid these reactions and fill your communication toolbox with healthy responses and approaches.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but avoiding these main three things is essential to building trust and healthy communication styles. You should aim to discuss things with your partner in a way that leads to healing inside and outside of the counseling session.  Well Marriage Center offers you several resources for the dos and don’ts of marriage counseling, so you can feel confident in your decision to work with a licensed therapist.  We want to help you renew your relationship and build communication skills in a safe and comfortable environment. 

What Should I Not Tell a Marriage Counselor

Being completely honest with your partner and therapist can be nerve-wracking. Vulnerability is tough to manage, but with a therapist, you should be able to explore your feelings more openly. Marriage counseling is a joint therapy plan that helps you navigate your relationship with someone else, which can be paired with individual sessions so you have the opportunity to share your feelings in both settings. You should always be honest with your counselor. They are there to help you, even if you sometimes disagree with their suggestions. 

While couples counseling is built to be open and honest with your partner, a therapist might inform your partner of something you’ve said individually. Counselors are there to help you and your partner figure things out together, not take sides. You shouldn’t expect to tell a therapist a secret during a session that you want to be kept from your partner. However, the urge to keep secrets might be a good thing to discuss with your therapist. They can help you plan a healthier way of dealing with or communicating secrets and feelings.

Strengths-Based Marriage Counseling

At Well Marriage Center, we believe in focusing on the strengths of your relationship. Marriage counseling is about finding renewal and success in your partnership, not tearing each other down. Our experience helping over 15,000 couples can lead you through communication, trauma, sex, forgiveness, and other issues affecting your marriage. If you want to begin your counseling journey today, fill out the intake form to connect with Melinda, our Intake Coordinator. We will tailor a plan specifically for your relationship to help you get the most out of your counseling.




 

How Do You Know When Marriage Counseling Isn’t Working?

In relationships, like in life, there are great times and then there are tougher times. A long-term, committed relationship is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have, and something most humans deeply long for. You find someone, fall in love, and embark on a promising new journey together–but it’s normal that along that journey you and your partner will experience challenges. One proven way that helps couples  better handle the tests and trials within your relationship is to enroll in marriage counseling. 

Unfortunately, marriage counseling (also known as couples counseling) is often associated with a stigma of failure, and as such is seen as a last resort for couples. But in the same way you might conduct routine maintenance on your car to prevent bigger issues, marriage counseling is a great resource for many couples to further solidify their foundation or even rekindle a flickering flame. 

Despite all of the positives of marriage counseling (which we get into a little later), it can be difficult to know if it’s working. To that end, we are going to look at some signs marriage counseling is working, and signs that it’s not. 

When Does Marriage Not Counseling Work?    

Marriage counseling is one of those endeavors where you can only get out what you put in. In other words, if reservations about marriage counseling cause you or your partner to go in half-hearted or closed-minded, you might not be opening yourself up to all the benefits counseling can provide. Oftentimes, this reluctance can cause participants to ask ,”when to stop marriage counseling or when to give up on marriage counseling?”

To answer those questions, let’s take a look at a few reasons or signs that marriage counseling is not working.

  • Individual therapy might be a better alternative. It is common for challenges between partners to be rooted in personal issues. Sometimes a marriage counselor will suggest that one or both of the parties involved work with an individual therapist to resolve some of their underlying issues. Once that is accomplished the participant  will be in a better headspace to focus on working through the roadblocks in their relationship. 
  • Just showing up isn’t enough. Sometimes marriage counseling patients think just showing up to the sessions will resolve their issues. The simple fact of the matter is that a therapist can’t solve the problems or do the work for them. Maintaining a relationship can take a lot of deliberate effort. If they aren’t willing to put in the work, that is one sign marriage counseling might not be the right solution for them. 
  • They have an ulterior agenda. If they have an agenda in marriage counseling that is anything other than improving the relationship, they might not be setting themselves up for success. It is not uncommon for individuals to come in trying to prove that they are right, or convey that their partner is the one who needs to change. Unfortunately, these motivations tend to create more issues as opposed to actually solving anything.      
  • Your therapist is not a good match. Marriage counseling is an intimate and vulnerable experience. As such, it’s important that participants feel they have an appropriate counselor. For example, at Well Marriage Center, we have a group of around 30 licensed relationship specialists. Between our extensive staff, and our efficient intake-process,  we strive to make sure each therapist is the perfect fit. In fact, one of our core values is being pro-relationship, meaning we want to do everything we can to help people rekindle the spark between themself and their partner. Sadly, not all marriage counseling providers go to the same lengths we do to make sure participants feel comfortable with their therapist. This can lead to plateaus in progress, or worse, a completely unpleasant counseling experience. 

Is Marriage Counseling Worth It? 

For many people this answer is a resounding yes. Provided you both come in with the right intentions and a willingness to put in the effort, marriage counseling can prove to be quite effective. Signs that marriage counseling is working include:

  1. Your relationship is healing. This is the biggest (and most desireable) sign that couples look for to know if counseling is working. Signs that your relationship is healing include things like improved communication and comfort discussing uncomfortable truths. Another sign of healing might include an increase in affection toward (or from) your partner. 
  2. Eagerness or willingness to attend therapy. At first, couples therapy might feel like a chore or a burden. However, as you start to see improvements in your relationship, your anxiety  or doubts about attending sessions might turn into a willingness or even eagerness to continue showing up and working things out. 
  3. You are willing to do the work. Words like “saving,” “repairing,” “fixing,” and “change,” can carry with them a daunting or high-stakes connotation. But, if you are willing to look past the discomfort of starting marriage counseling, you can find yourself wanting to do the hard work. The more you feel fulfilled by the effort you put in, the bigger the sign that marriage counseling is working and worth it.  

To further determine if marriage counseling might be right for you, let’s look at a few frequently asked questions.     

What Percentage of Marriages Survive After Counseling?

If you’re still wondering about the effectiveness of marriage counseling, the fact that the overwhelming majority of couples have a successful experience might help ease your mind. 

How Many Times a Week Should You Go to Marriage Counseling?

The industry standard is once a week at the beginning of couples counseling sessions. Of course that is subject to change based on your specific situation. After your initial counseling sessions, your schedule might be every two weeks or even once a month. Generally speaking, the average length of marriage counseling is 12-20 sessions. (I think some of the other blogs say 12-25 sessions?)

What Are the Signs of a Good Couples Therapist?

There are a handful of things to look for in a good couples counselor. 

  1. For starters, your therapist should be licensed. 
  2. But more than just the license, the therapist’s speciality is what matters. Many licensed therapists see just 2-3 couples per week and often don’t help facilitate great results. Make sure at least half of the therapist’s clients each week are couples. At Well Marriage Center our caseloads are almost 100% couples. There is a science to relationships and good counselors will be specialists and experts. 
  3. A good therapist should be relationship-friendly, not just advising couples to break up. Participants are worried if they enter into counseling it will end in divorce. At Well Marriage we focus on rebuilding and rekindling happy relationships.
  4. A good therapist will help you remain hopeful and optimistic while still providing valuable insight and direction.  
  5. The best therapist ultimately helps couples find their way back to each other. They help them rediscover what brought them together in the first place and address whatever obstacles are creating space. 

At Well Marriage Center our team of experts meet those 4 criteria and more. Explore our website to learn more, or if you’re ready, get started today by contacting Melinda


 

What Is Talked About During Marriage Counseling?

Nervous about your first marriage counseling session? You’re not alone. Marriage counseling is an extremely vulnerable experience, bound to unearth intense emotions for everyone involved. Fortunately, if you and your partner know what to expect before you begin, it can feel a lot less scary—and you’ll likely get more out of the experience. So, how do couples prepare for a therapy session? Although the specifics of your marriage/ couples therapy exercises will differ depending on your unique goals, there are some basic steps you can take to ready yourself for any initial therapy session. 

To help prepare you for your healing journey, Well Marriage Center answered a few of the most common marriage counseling questions that couples ask when starting therapy

Frequently Asked Marriage Counseling Session Questions

What Do You Talk About Before Couples Counseling?

Naturally, every couple’s reasons for pursuing therapy differ. However, there are common factors that often contribute to strife in a relationship, such as:

  • Communication issues
  • Loss of romantic feelings
  • Financial issues
  • How to raise children 
  • Health issues
  • Trauma  
  • Intimacy issues
  • Infidelity

If there are clear stressors—like those listed above—that you and your partner deem the main source of tension, then it would be best to review those points before your first therapy session. 

However, if your reasoning is less cut and dry, then it maybe is beneficial for you both to explore the following questions before starting therapy: 

  • Do we want to stay together? 
  • What are your opinions of therapy?
  • What are the most significant problems in our marriage? 
  • Does this rough patch/relationship feel temporary or permanent?
  • When did you first notice that something was wrong? 

Going through these questions can give you a better idea of how to navigate counseling. It’s important to note that you do not need concrete answers so long as you both actively engage with these questions on a deeper emotional level. 

Additionally, reviewing these types of questions in advance will better prepare you and your partner to have difficult conversations, making your first counseling experience more productive and beneficial for everyone.

What Do You Talk About During Marriage Counseling?

As we’ve said before, the specific topics of each counseling session vary greatly depending on the couple’s unique goals and challenges. Every couple is different, so every counseling approach is equally distinctive. That being said, here are a few of the most common questions a good therapist  asks during an initial counseling session. 

  • In general, how would you describe your life and marriage together?
  • What does the timeline of your relationship look like? 
  • What strengths do you bring to the table in your relationship? And what strengths do you think your partner has? 
  • Do you have any prior experience with marriage counseling or other types of therapy?
  • What made you decide to seek marriage counseling?
  • Have you tried anything to resolve present issues before seeking counseling? What did you try, and how did that go?
  • What do you expect to get out of couples therapy? 
  • Do you currently want to stay with your partner? Why or why not? 
  • Are you willing to put in the work and make changes to improve the quality of your marriage?

Is There a Difference Between Couples Therapy vs Marriage Counseling?

This depends on who you ask, but Well Marriage Center uses these terms interchangeably. We believe that all couples, legally married or not, can repair and strengthen their relationships via therapy. Ultimately, the end goal of therapy for all types of couples is the same—to heal, reinforce their relationship, and bring about a happier future together. 

How Long Do Couples Usually Go to Counseling?

The actual duration of couples counseling is different for everyone and depends on several factors, like:

  • How long you have been together
  • What your needs are
  • What challenges are present
  • The counseling model used by the therapist

In the end, the average length of marriage counseling doesn’t matter. A couple may pursue counseling for as long as they need to; incorporating a strict timeline doesn’t do anyone any favors, and may add unnecessary stress. 

Searching For Pro-Relationship Counseling? Try Well Marriage Center

It’s important to understand that pursuing counseling does not mean you have failed as a couple. Instead, it’s a chance to make your relationship even stronger. Regardless of your specific situation, you and your partner deserve a therapist who will help you pursue individual happiness while advocating for the success of your relationship. 

Although counseling can feel daunting, the right therapist will help you and your partner work through the tension to build a stronger and happier union. Our licensed, specialized therapists know how to tailor your therapy experience so you and your partner can discover mutually beneficial solutions. 

If you are both ready to take the first step of your counseling journey, fill out our short intake form and set up a consultation with our Intake Coordinator, Melinda. She’ll happily walk you through our process and answer any questions you have to match you with a counselor who meets your unique needs.