Marriage / Couples / Pre-Marital Counseling
MARRIAGE / COUPLES COUNSELING
How common is divorce?
According to the American Psychological Association, " about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher."
What are the reasons so many marriages get into trouble?
According to an article published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the top five reasons are (1) poor communication; (2) financial problems; (3) lack of marital commitment; (4) dramatic changes in priorities; and (5) infidelity. And Dr. John Gottman, a leading U.S. researcher and marriage therapist has predicted with amazing accuracy that couples who engage in the "4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling) when communicating will very likely end up in divorce court.
In my own practice, I have found that the most common issues couples bring to the table are: (1) poor communication techniques (like disrespect and yelling), (2) sexual issues, (3) differences in how finances are handled, (4) and parenting style conflicts. A problem that I see far too often is a lack of commitment to the marriage itself, along with an unwillingness on the part of one or both spouses to own their personal contributions to the marital decline. It seems to be easier for many people to "cut and run" rather than put the effort into working out their differences.
My style or approach
Anyone who has been in a committed relationship for any length of time knows that differences of opinion and conflict are inevitable. It's not necessarily about the avoidance of conflict between a husband and wife, but how you and your partner choose to handle it that is more important. Based on Christian principals, I work to educate and equip the couples I counsel with the tools necessary to create a healthy, lasting marriage relationship, including healthy communication and conflict resolution from a win/win perspective.
Marriage counseling is hard work - it is hard work for the couple, and it is hard work for me! However, if each partner will come to the counseling process with (1) a commitment to change themselves, (2) a willingness to own their behavior rather than make excuses for it, and (3) the courage to be completely honest during the process, it is well worth the work on everyone's part! I am committed to doing my part, are you committed to doing yours?
I personally believe that EVERY man and woman who is contemplating marriage needs to wisely invest the time and money in premarital counseling. And that includes couples who have been married previously. Just a few of the topics I typically explore with engaged couples are:
- trust and respect as foundational components
- what marriage means to each partner
- marital role expectations
- tools for healthy communication
- conflict: how to constructively handle a disagreement, and not turn it into a 'fight'
- building the "environment of safety" imperative in a healthy relationship
- family of origin and the important, often unrecognized role it plays in one's marriage
- dealing with past "baggage" from other relationships
While there certainly is no guarantee that pre-marital counseling will ensure the success of your marriage, it is absolutely a step in the right direction. I encourage you to take this important step for yourselves.