How to Get the Most out of Marriage Counseling

If you are facing the prospect of divorce or spending a lifetime with an uncommunicative partner, undergoing marriage counseling can change the course of your marriage for the better. Succeeding in couples therapy takes more work than just showing up, sitting on a couch, and talking to a stranger. Getting the most out of counseling requires hard work and facing uncomfortable topics. Yet with persistence and a drive to repair their marriage, many couples overcome infidelity, communication problems, and fighting. Here are some tips to make your marriage counseling sessions more productive.

Spend time searching for a good therapist with recommendations and qualifications. If you feel ashamed asking friends or family for a recommendation, ask your doctor, or post a question on a local Internet discussion board.

Don't be embarrassed to bring a tape recorder or notebook to your marriage therapy sessions. Record yourself and what your therapist says so that you and your spouse can reflect on something later if necessary.

Make time each day to reflect on what you learned or discussed in previous counseling sessions, and make a conscious effort not to concentrate on negative thoughts about your spouse while you contemplate. Use the quiet time to work on any mental exercises your counselor suggests. Counselors often give couples homework in the form of making lists or thinking of problems from different angles, mental activities that stimulate your problem-solving and coping abilities. Take notes to keep track of your progress.

Avoid nagging your husband or wife if he or she doesn't engage in marriage counseling assignments outside of the sessions. Such criticism is counterproductive to building a more trusting and loving relationship. It may cause an emotional retreat, and your spouse will get even less out of the therapy.

If you attend sessions alone because your spouse doesn't want to talk with a stranger, you can still discuss what you've learned. Individual marriage counseling sessions are not as effective as couples counseling, but they can help you discover what you are doing to create tension in the marriage. Talking about the therapy and your discoveries may pique your spouse's interest.

Discuss what needs to be discussed with your spouse, even in between sessions. Don't try to save something for the next session. The more you communicate outside of therapy, the better you will communicate within sessions. Depending on what you've written or said, you can even compare notes and re-listen to the sessions together.

Do not skip or cancel marriage counseling sessions because you feel lazy about going. Treat your appointments as seriously as you would treat a work meeting at your job. Maintaining a marriage is a full-time job.

If you and your spouse agree that the sessions are not working, or possibly making things worse, find a new therapist or take a break from counseling. No marriage counselor is a good fit for every couple, and there are many approaches to relationship therapy.

© Had2Know 2010