Why do couples leave seeing a counsellor until their marriage or partnership is in trouble?
In her new book Becoming Michele Obama confessed that she and Barack had had problems in their marriage and had attended couples counselling. A number of other celebrity couples with (to us observers) seemingly perfect marriages have also confessed publically to having seen couples counsellors and therapists when their marriages have been in trouble.
There are however couples in the spotlight who have professed to attending regular counselling sessions in order to maintain their relationships rather than help them out of a crisis.
So why do couples leave seeing a counsellor until their marriage or partnership is in trouble when they could seek help to keep it out of trouble?
A troubled marriage or relationship has until recently still been a taboo subject. So much so that even our own closest friends and families will often present a permanently harmonious front to convince us and themselves that all is well in their world when in fact they are usually fooling no-one and their relationship is in truth anything but harmonious.
So these revelations by those thought to have perfect marriages have brought about a realisation for a lot of couples that the perfect marriage or relationship is not at all easily attained or maintained by anyone no matter who you are. It is more often achieved through hard work and very often can only be maintained or at least kept ticking over with professional help.
But why wait until the marriage is in trouble? Why not seek guidance whilst the relationship is harmonious so as to ensure that it doesn’t get into unmanageable difficulties in the first place? Why not take the opportunity to talk about how things are going before they have chance to become a problem? We maintain other things so that they keep running smoothly so why not our relationships?
It is not actually that unusual these days for couples to recognise the wisdom of attending regular relationship maintenance sessions, especially if they have very busy lives often revolving around the demands of work, children or other commitments which seem to leave little time for meaningful communication when they are together. They appreciate that investing time in learning how to be open to having a deeper understanding of, for example, each other’s beliefs, needs, fears, triggers ie hardwired verbal, behavioural and emotional responses to situations, values and principles helps them to be more open with each other and therefore communicate with each other more readily and effectively.
In the sessions, they have made a commitment to each other to invest time in the opportunity to discuss and hopefully find solutions together for situations that might otherwise have the potential to become problematic. Failure to appreciate the other or listen or help are common examples of needs that if not recognized, not addressed, could create tension between them in the future.
This type of counselling provides an opportunity for couples to spend time reviewing what is working well and why, as well as what isn’t working so well and why. Assumptions can be aired and tested, worries and concerns addressed.
In a committed relationship we are agreeing to invest a huge amount in each other emotionally and we owe it to each other to nourish that relationship in every way we can.
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About Jan Merrills
Jan Merrills LL.B (Hons) P.G.Dip Counselling and Integrative Psychotherapy
Jan offers maintenance counselling for couples and has a practice in Stratford Upon Avon. She can be contacted through her profile.