Relationships are never static. There are ups and downs through the life of each relationship. We all know there are times when our partner is our favorite person in the world and there are other times where they are certainly one of our least favorites! Often, these are the times when people tend to turn to relationship counseling (when things have taken a turn for the worse). This is certainly what seems to be depicted on television and in the movies; the typical married couple, maybe around the seven-year-itch time, yelling at each other on a couch as a therapist nods along sympathetically. However, please don’t let this taint your view of relationship counseling as this is not what you should expect. You might be surprised to know though that there are a number of ways relationship counseling can help in addition to the usual “damage control” that is often most commonly expected.
So how can relationship counseling help my relationship?
As we touched on above, the most traditional way in that relationship counseling can be used (and most common way) is for assistance when everything seems to be falling apart. This is because relationship counseling provides a “safe space” and someone who can mediate between the two of you when experiencing these difficult times. This can often help you to resolve some of the issues that have been causing a break down in the relationship. However, a good relationship counselor can provide so much more than just a third party who can listen objectively.
A well-trained relationship counselor can help you get some insight into your own way of interacting with others (along with your partner’s also) so that you can work to become a better partner (not necessarily only in this relationship, but overall) no matter what stage the relationship is in.
This improved insight can lead to:
- Better communication with your partner (and possibly also with other people in your life).
- Understanding your partner and what their needs are.
- Finding ways to discuss different opinions and “agree to disagree” so you can still both be your own person without feeling like you are constantly arguing or appeasing.
- Improve intimacy.
- Strengthen all relationships within the family (including parent-child relationships or step-parent/child relationships).
- Learning about your partners’ strengths and weaknesses and how you can respect these.
- Rediscover what you originally found attractive in one another, and find how this can grow over time (as relationships are more than one-dimensional).
What to expect from relationship counseling:
Although conflict resolution is one of the main ways that relationship counseling helps people, you should not expect the counselor to have all the answers. One thing a good counselor does not do is to give advice or “solve” arguments for you. They also will not tell you if you should or should not end the relationship. They may ask your own opinions or thoughts around this and you may come to these decisions yourself through the counseling process, but a good counselor will not suggest you go either way.
What you can expect is for the counselor to ask you to speak openly but respectfully within the sessions and above all to be truthful. The counselor will take a non-judgmental approach to you both and will not take sides. The aim of the sessions will be to allow this open line of honest communication and for the counselor to provide you both with tools (such as teaching better ways to communicate) that will help you to solve your arguments yourselves. Although this may be more difficult in the short run, it will help the relationship overall as you move into the future.
For further information about relationship counseling, please refer to the links below: