When Do You Start Marriage Counseling?
So often marriage counseling is a couple’s last resort. Although marriage counseling is ideal for making a marriage stronger, the majority of couples choose marriage counseling only after the marriage has become weak, hopeless and broken. Terri Clinton Dichiser of Take Charge, Inc., is a licensed clinical professional counselor, and has been providing many services, including marriage counseling, since 1991. Her professional opinion on the topic of “when a couple should participate in marriage counseling” is – NOW!
According to relationship and marriage experts (like Dr. John Gottman, of The Gottman Institute) couples wait an average of six years being unhappy before getting help. That means couples have six years of built up resentment before they begin the important work of learning to resolve differences in effective ways. A few years ago, The Huffington Post shared a list of 13 signs that you and your spouse need marriage counseling.
Here are a few significant signs from that article:
- When you aren’t talking
- When you’re talking but it’s always negative
- When you’re afraid to talk
- When affection is withheld as a punishment
- When you keep secrets
On the first onset of any of these signs, a couple should seek to strengthen and improve their marriage and not wait for the issues to go away. Issues rarely go away on their own. A marriage is – two unique people coming together, day-in and day-out, with purpose. There are sure to be conflicts and discomfort at times. Avoiding conflicts is not an indicator of a healthy marriage. Left unresolved, minor differences become vast caverns filled with fellings like: resentment, shame, pride, pain, and disconnection. Marriage counseling helps a couple create a healthy marriage, where both parties coming together to deal with conflicts and work through discomfort.
Many marriages fall into unhealthy patterns, and Terri Clinton Dichiser uses therapy and couples counseling as a way to help couples recognize and break those patterns. For couples recently married, marriage counseling provides the tools and techniques to improve communication, as well as identify and avoid potentially destructive patterns. Terri Clinton Dichiser uses Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) as a tool to help couples reconnect or work on breaking unhealthy patterns. Research on couples engaged in EFT shows marked results:
- More than 70 percent of couples turned their relationship around, in just 15 to 20 sessions
- More than 90 percent of couples “significantly improved”
Marriage is a lifelong commitment. Two people agree to go through all the things life throws at them, together. Often a couple begins this journey ill-equipped and unprepared. Marriage counseling provides a safe haven for a couple to create a connection that can withstand the test of stress and time. Whatever the cause or length of the marriage, it is best to get help and work on the relationship sooner rather than later.
If you and your spouse make the decision that it’s time for marriage counseling, appointments with Terri Clinton Dichiser can be made by calling (913) 239-8255.
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