“What is marriage counseling and how does it work?” This is a question that new clients commonly ask when they first come for help with their marriage. Some people have delayed coming to counseling because they don’t know what to expect. So let’s talk here about what happens in the first session, and then what to expect after that. When a couple comes in for the first time I listen to them both, then listen more. It’s taken time to get here, maybe a long time, and there are many feelings and thoughts that couples need to get out, and that I need to hear. I do not referee or allow arguments, and I never take sides.
Marriage counseling is about the couple – the marital unit; how it got to where both felt counseling was needed, and how to find a way to marriage to will be a delight to both. Marriage problems are “you both” problems, not the problem of one or the other. Assigning who is more to blame is not helpful, so we talk about how the marriage got to where you find yourselves now.
We also talk about the foundational principles of marriage, because everything is built on a foundation. All marital problems go back to these in one way or another, so we talk during the first sessions about how your marriage got to where it is, and how your problems are really straying from the core principles of marriage.
We talk about the baggage each spouse brought into the relationship. Think of it – men and woman are different in the DNA of every cell. We think and process information differently due to how our brains work as men and women. We have different personalities, different families of origin, different cultural backgrounds, different ways we were raised. Then we created our own baggage as we grew into teen years and beyond! And somehow all of this is supposed to work right and make both spouses happy right away!
So we talk about the baggage, and more importantly, the damage that was brought into the marriage. We also talk about the wounds that have been given each other. Most important, we talk about how to heal and grow into a couple that is all we dreamed we could be.
I meet with a couple together and at times, with each spouse individually. Because of HIPPA regulations, when I meet with one spouse everything that is said is confidential from the other unless I am asked to reveal what was said. No secrets are asked to be revealed that you don’t want to reveal.
Marriage counseling is a process that unfolds the problems that have made the marriage so difficult. Throughout it all I will walk beside you, pointing the way; only you can make the decisions needed to make your marriage what you hope it will be. You can only fix yourself, not your spouse. As each fixes themselves, the marriage begins to heal, and principles of how to love and find deep emotional connection find their way into your hearts and lives together.