Marriage Counselling - Couples Therapy Sydney
If you’ve found your way to this page, you already know that marriage is not always easy. Even couples that appear perfect on the outside experience difficult times and conflict in their relationship. For some married couples, this friction is caused by money worries or a disagreement on how to raise the kids. For others, it’s a lack of intimacy or fertility issues.
Whatever’s causing the rift in your marriage, it’s important to know that there are steps you and your spouse can take to get your relationship back on track. While it can be tempting to let problems bubble away under the surface,many couples find that their problems don’t go away by themselves.. This is where marriage counselling comes in.
What is Marriage Counselling?
Marriage counselling is a form of therapy for couples who’re experiencing ongoing problems in their relationship that don’t resolve after a few weeks or months. Many couples seek counselling when they notice that they repeat the same fights over and over, or that the have a key issue that remains unresolved. As licensed professionals, marriage counsellors are trained to help couples identify the issues, communicate their feelings, understand each other better and develop solutions that allow them to reconnect.
These therapy sessions are a safe, confidential, and comfortable place where couples can talk openly and honestly about their feelings and emotions. A marriage counsellor is a neutral third party who helps couples see their marriage and relationship in a new light.
Many people mistakenly think of therapy as a last resort; the final chance to save a failing marriage. However, marriage counselling greatly benefits couples who’ve just lostway or who have a single issue that is bothering them which they are struggling to resolve. Maybe you’ve not seen eye-to-eye on a couple of issues recently. Or, maybe you’re not spending as much time together as you used to. Counselling brings two people together to work out why things have changed and help steer them back onto the right course.
How Does Marriage Counselling Help?
Marriage counselling brings both partners together with a specialist who can help them express their issues in a calmer, less emotionally-charged way, giving them the opportunity to discuss the underlying issues and work on them as a team.
Marriage counsellors are trained to help you diffuse conflict and deal with underlying issues. It’s not always comfortable or easy, but allows the couple to communicate their real needs and bothers without getting stuck in repeated arguments.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re newlywed, celebrating 10 years together or are 40-year marriage veterans,you and your partner can both benefit from marriage counselling if you are willing to commit to opening yourself up to the process.
Brings You Closer
The closeness that two people share early in their relationship begins to disappear over time for any number of reasons. Sometimes stress related to work or finances leads to tension and distance, sometimes it’s kids that crowd out your time together, or it may be issues to do with differences about how to express yourself sexually or with affection. For some couples there may be a hurt or dissappointment that leads them to disconnect. .
TTherapy can help couples uncover why they have disconnected, can help them communicate their needs without blame and can help them to enjoy each other’s company again and reconnect romantically.
Improves the Way You Communicate
Marriage counselling helps you learn how to communicate with in a way that connects you with your partner. It encourages you both to open up and express yourself and your feelings in ways you may not have done before.
Too often, people get frustrated when they feel they’re not being listened to by their spouses. They receive no sign that their thoughts have been heard or their emotions understood. This can lead you both to fight, blame each other, or close off from each other.
A marriage counsellor teaches couples how to listen to each other and provide the acknowledgement that each one needs. This opens the way to trust and for feelings of closeness and affection to reemerge. A counsellor also helps each partner to express themselves in a productive but honest way. Messages that have been hard to share become known between the couple and the couple develops a greater level of honesty.
Teaches You About Conflict Resolution
Learning how to resolve a conflict is an important part of any partnership. Marriage counselling teaches you about the predictable patterns that couple conflict follows. You become expert in understanding why your efforts to sort out problems may not work and why your best placed efforts to reconcile often make things worse.
One common pattern of conflict is that one partner feels misunderstood, and may raise their voice or begin to criticise the other partner or pursue them as things escalate. The other partner might look to avoid conflict and leave the room or say that they don’t want to talk. This further agitates the partner who feels misunderstood, who will then express that irritation by again raising their voice, criticising, or pursuing their unwilling partner. These negative conflct cycles are self reinforcing, and the couple struggles to escape them.
Marriage counselling teaches you how to empathise with your spouse and stay in the conversation in a more positive way. You learn open up to each other, identify the root of the problem, bring needs to each other in a softer way and thereby are able to work together to each get what you want from the relationship..
Heal Old Wounds
When one spouse hurts the other, the wounds left behind are difficult to heal. Often, one partner feels betrayed, maybe due to infidelity, or maybe because their partner let them down when they needed them, while the other experiences guilt. Couples get stuck here, with one partner feeling let down or betrayed and the other feeling criticised or shamed.
Marriage counselling allows both partners to openly discuss past events and find some closure, understanding and forgiveness, helping to heal old wounds and putting them in the past.
10 Common Reasons Couples Seek Marriage Counselling
Every couple is different, but there are a few common reasons why many seek marriage counselling.
Infidelity is one of the most harmful and damaging events a couple can experience. Feelings of betrayal and hurt on one side and guilt and remorse on the other. Couple’s often need professional help to move past these feelings.
Money is always a contentious issue and core to our sense of security and freedom. From stressing about not having enough money or differing opinions on how to spend money to disagreements on how to save for retirement, married couples often clash over family finances. Money is a key area in which couple’s values differ. A professional can help you have a calm conversation to negotiate family values.
Constant fighting and arguments put a strain on any relationship. Whether it’s one big blowout after another or small but frequent bickering, these confrontations force gradually deteriorate the bond between many couples. Couple counselling teaches you to work on and resolve underlying issues so that conflict is less frequent. It also teaches you how to have disagreements in a healthy way.
Disagreements Over Children:
You and your spouse may be united in loving your children. However, that doesn’t mean you always agree on how to parent them. Often these differences stem from each partner’s upbringing and can lead to huge tensions between parents.
Addiction: Whether it’s drugs, pornography, alcohol or something else, addiction puts a serious strain on any marriage. Couples seek help in dealing with addiction and advice on overcoming it for the sake of the relationship and often to reduce the impact on other members of the family.
Incompatible Sex Drives: Everyone’s libido is different and many couples find that one partner wants sex more often than the other. This can lead to frustrations and a feeling of incompatibility. Desire discrepancy is a common reason couples seek counselling.
Trauma: Abuse, natural disasters, serious illness, accidents, death. When one or both of you have experienced some sort of traumatic incident either before or during your marriage, it can have a significant effect on your life which therapy can help you overcome.
Loss of Trust: When someone loses your trust, it can be hard for them to regain it. Some couples attend marriage counselling to help them rebuild that trust and create ways to prevent anyone from being hurt again.
Life Changes: Starting a family, buying a new home, or changing jobs are all big and exciting life events. But, adjusting to these changes can cause problems within a marriage as they also trigger stress responses in each partner revealing different values and needs. A counsellor often helps couples process and prepare for these events..
The Spark Has Gone: All married couples go through a phase when they feel they’re drifting apart from each other. Instead of letting their relationship fizzle out, many couples turn to counselling to help them reconnect and reignite the spark that bought them together in the first place.
What Happens During Marriage Counselling?
Both partners are encouraged to attend marriage counselling sessions together to allow the therapist to see how they communicate and interact as a couple. During the first few sessions, the counsellor will ask a lot of questions which allows them to get to know each individual and also to learn about the history of your relationship. In addition to questions about your relationship, they may ask about other areas of your life, such as childhood, family, and work.
Once they get to know you both and have a greater understanding of you, your partner, and your relationship, your counsellor will highlight both the strengths and the issues that are putting a strain on your marriage.
The more open and honest you and your partner can be during counselling sessions, the more successful the experience will be.
You’ll learn communication techniques, helping you open up and express your feelings and listen and empathise with your other half. Marriage counselling will also arm you with constructive ways to alleviate the tension between you and your partner to prevent rifts in the future.
How to Start a Conversation About Getting Marriage Counselling?
It’s tough admitting your marriage is in trouble and even harder to realise that outside help could be the solution. Deciding to try marriage counselling is usually reached by just one spouse. They then have the daunting task of trying to convince their partner that counselling is the way forward.
Broaching the subject is not easy. Just talking about marriage counselling suggests that there’s a real issue with your relationship and that you’re not fulfilled in your marriage.
Here we look at a few things to consider before starting the conversation with your partner.
Choose Your Moment
Mentioning marriage counselling when you’re in the middle of a heated argument isn’t the best time to bring the subject up. Instead of presenting therapy as a solution, spitting it out when you’re angry only makes it seem like a threat.
You need to choose a calmer moment, a time when suggesting counselling will feel like a step forward, not a last resort. Therapy is a chance to improve your relationship, make you stronger as a couple, and bring you closer together.
Try starting the discussion with something like, “I know we’ve been fighting lately, so I’ve been thinking of things we can do together to help. Something like reading a relationship book together or maybe counselling.” It’s important to ask for their input too, so ask if they have any other ideas.
Use “We”, Not “Me”
Now is not the time to discuss your individual needs. Marriage counselling is about your relationship with your spouse and helping you both move forwards.
Instead of saying “I would like to speak with someone…,” explain how counselling could benefit the two of you. Maybe suggest that “We could talk to someone about ways we can get our relationship back on track.”
Highlight the Positives
Your marriage may be going through a rocky patch, but there’s a reason you made a lifelong commitment to each other. Instead of focusing on the negatives, be sure to highlight all the positives of your relationship. You’ve always supported each other through both good and bad times and you want that support to continue through this stressful time. By attending therapy together, you can learn how to help each other and become stronger as a couple.
Organise Marriage Counselling Together
Researching a therapist should be a joint project. After all, you’ll be attending marriage counselling as a couple, so the choice of who to see should be taken together.
If your partner’s still reluctant to attend therapy, getting them involved in the search for a counsellor may help them come around to the idea. Discuss the type of person you’d both be most comfortable talking to, have an idea of what you both want to get out of the whole process, and do the research into suitable therapists as a team.
The Possible Outcomes of Marriage Counselling
When entering into marriage counselling, it’s important to realise that there are many possible outcomes. For 70% of couples, the outcome is hugely successful, helping them work through their differences and bringing them closer together.
However, marriage counselling isn’t a magic cure. In some instances, the openness and honesty that people express during therapy highlight other issues and can sometimes make couples realise they’re stronger apart.
One thing is certain, working with your marriage counsellor and being as open as you will help you achieve the best outcome possible for you, your spouse, and your relationship.
Marriage Counselling Faqs
- Does marriage counselling work?
Studies suggest that more than 70% of couples have success with marriage counselling. When both spouses commit to therapy and are open and honest about their feelings and emotions, the greater the chance that the process will work and achieve the right outcome for the relationship.
- Is marriage counselling a good idea?
When cracks start appearing in a relationship, marriage counselling is a good way to try and work through the differences that two people have. It’s often easier to speak openly and honestly with a third party. A marriage counsellor is a neutral observer who can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and provide a different perspective on the issues that have come between you.
Even if you and your spouse aren’t having problems, marriage counselling can still be a good idea. Many couples find that regular therapy sessions can help them communicate better and work through any issues that arise before they begin affecting their relationship.
- What are the aims of marriage counselling?
Marriage counselling gives couples the opportunity to examine their relationship and any issues they may be experiencing in great depth. A marriage counsellor is a trained professional who guides you through the process, helping both partners open up to each other by improving their communication skills and presenting opportunities for them to work together, resolve their problems, and make their relationship stronger.
A marriage counsellor doesn’t take sides or adjudicate who is right in your arguments. Rather, they try and help you gain perspective so you can both see the underlying issues and address them proactively, rather than getting caught in repetitive fights that don’t get to the core of the matter.
- What if my partner doesn’t want to come to marriage counselling with me?
It’s natural for one partner to be more enthusiastic about marriage counselling than the other. If your spouse is reluctant to attend, talk to them about the reasons why. It may be that they’re apprehensive about discussing their feelings in front of a stranger. Or, worried that the therapist may judge or criticise them.
Reassure your partner that this isn’t the case and explain that a marriage counsellor isn’t there to judge or assign blame to anyone. Their goal is to remain neutral and help the two of you come together in a safe place to work through your difficulties.
If your partner is still hesitant, you can still attend counselling sessions alone. Speaking one-on-one with a therapist can give you a better understanding of your relationship and arm you with communication skills to help you express yourself and your needs.
You can also offer for your partner to speak to the counsellor on a call or at an individual session so they can ask any questions they have about the process and to make sure they are comfortable working with the therapist/
- How long does marriage counselling take?
Every marriage and every couple is different so there’s no definitive answer for how long counselling will take. It’s dependent on the depth of the issues you need to work through and the level of commitment each partner has to resolve those issues.
Many couples begin seeing the positive effects on their relationship after just 2-3 sessions while others may need 6-12 sessions to notice the difference. Some couples with long standing or complex issues may benefit from having a marriage counsellor work with them longer term and at various stages of their journey together.