When marriage suddenly goes from bliss to crisis, few exercises are as difficult to engage in as deciding to seek the services of a marriage counselor in an attempt to save the marriage. Reasons for this include non-acceptance or non-recognition of the problem, to embarrassment arising from the situation, where one or both parties would rather keep the matter under wraps than admit to family, friends and acquaintances that things are not well at home. Still, some couples simply do not believe in marriage counseling, and either hope that things will get better, or have just given up on the marriage and are steering towards divorce proceedings.
For partners who still want to save their marriage, counseling is one of the more successful options to consider. Unlike the more popular marriage support groups, direct counseling by experienced marriage counselors is more personalized, and thus the problems are specifically addressed. Through marriage counseling, partners benefit from the experience of counsel that is both professional and emphatic.
Even if the aim of marriage counseling is to bring the two of you in the same level of understanding on what problems you have in your marriage, most marriage counselors will talk to you and your partner separately. This is to enable the counselor to see each of your own individual perspectives on what is going on in your marriage.
Note that the initial meeting with your marriage counselor goes both ways, i.e., this is not just an opportunity for the marital counselor to know about you, but also an opportunity for you and your spouse to determine if this is indeed the marriage counselor for both of you.
If all is well, we go to phase where the problems are identified. It is important to define which of the problems are least and most important, as the job of the counselor is to identify both internal and external factors. Segregating and categorizing the issues based on their significance will make the sessions more focused, avoiding side issues that may complicate the discussions, and sometimes bring sessions to a complete standstill.
The next stage in the marriage counseling session is the actual discussions delving into the specific problems in your marriage. At this point, the counselor moves from a director of activity to a mediator, advisor and problem solver. As mediator, the counselor's role is to bring both parties to a discussion of the problems identified in as open, mature and pleasant an atmosphere as possible. The counselor usually requires this atmosphere as a prerequisite to counseling; not to do so will just jeopardize the counseling process, with an increased possibility of failure.
As advisor, the counselor delves into his experience and education and applies these into providing the correct advice pertinent to the marriage problems.
The counselors problem-solving role is probably the most difficult, as it is he who will provide the final recommendations. As such, his authority and decisions should be fair, correct and most important, acceptable for both parties.
Much of the problems besetting troubled marriages stem from the lack of one thing - communication. The intervention and experience provided by a professional and capable marriage counselor provides the environment for mature and logical discussions, and hopefully the establishment of lines of communication that would ultimately save the relationship.
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