by Cathy Meyer
There are people who stay in an unhappy marriage until the resentment builds and they feel they have no choice but to divorce. They don’t voice their unhappiness, they go with the flow hoping something will change and the problems will be instantly solved. Then there are those who “try” with everything they have to make the marriage work before they leave. These people are problem solvers who feel they owe it to the marriage to try to find solutions to the problems before they throw in the towel.
The one thing both have in common is that they rarely go to marriage counseling. In my experience, I’ve talked to very few people who went to marriage counseling before deciding to divorce. In other words they didn’t really give their marriage a fair chance by working with a professional.
Maintaining a marriage and solving problems within the marriage takes skills. Relationship skills that few of us are naturally equipped with. We may think we are doing all we can to solve the problems in a marriage but, a marriage counselor can be of great benefit in teaching us new ways of solving problems and getting our needs met.
Below is a list of marriage counseling benefits:
- You will learn how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. In marriage counseling you will learn communication skills that will help you not only listen to your spouse but, to also process what your spouse is saying.
- You will learn how to state your needs clearly and openly without resentment or anger.
- You will learn how to be assertive without being offensive. Both spouses need to be able to talk about their issues without fear of hurting the other spouse. In marriage counseling you will learn that you can get what you need without having to make demands and engage in conflict.
- You will learn to process and work through unresolved issues. Marriage counseling offers a safe environment for expressing any unhappiness you feel. Getting your feelings out into the open with the help of a trained professional may be all you need. You may find that your spouse is more than willing to work together to solve the problems in the marriage. You may also find that your spouse is unwilling to do the work. If so, you are then free to leave the marriage without any guilt because you have given it your best shot.
- You will develop a deeper understanding of who your spouse is and what his/her needs are. Better yet, you will learn more deeply who you are and what your needs are. You may end up finding that those needs can be met inside the marriage. You may not.
Relationship skills needed to maintain a fulfilling marriage could be learned. A marriage counselor can teach you those skills while monitoring your progress, mediating conflict and giving objective feedback.
If you wait too long to seek marriage counseling the odds are against you. Even if you feel it is too late and no amount of counseling will help the only way to know for sure is to seek professional help. Doing so will keep you from making a mistake you will later regret. If you are thinking about divorce, protect yourself from future regret by working with a marriage counselor. He/she can not only help you come to terms with whether or not to divorce but can also teach you the skills needed in any future relationships should you decide to leave the marriage.