Do you remember the day you were first married? The giddy thrill of standing before one another in front of your friends and family and declaring your vows to one another? The feeling of pure and joyous love that filled you up so completely that you thought you just might burst? While your wedding day comes with a whole lot of planning and one or two logistical headaches on the day itself, all of that melts away when you look into each other’s eyes and say your vows. When we leave the church or venue with our new spouse we feel as though the feeling of love and elation that fills us in that moment will last forever.
Unfortunately, as in all things, life gets in the way.
In an era where many of us are working harder and for longer hours than ever before as well as dealing with the stresses and trials that come with balancing a career and raising a family, many couples find it harder and harder to make time for one another. Quality time spent together gets harder and harder to come by. Communication doesn’t flow as freely as it once did. It becomes all-too tempting to snap and take your angers and frustrations out on one another. And while your love for one another is still felt, it has been muted by the quotidian trials of day-to-day life.
A rift has begun to open up between you. The longer you leave it unattended, the wider it’s going to get. You need to take the time and effort to repair the damage that time, stress, circumstances and familiarity can do to a marriage. And while some couples are able to do this themselves, most find that they need a little help.
That’s where marriage and couples counseling come in.
Here we’ll look at what you can expect from marriage counseling in general and what you can expect from our practice in Katy, TX. But first, let’s talk about what marriage counseling is not. It’s not an admission of defeat. It doesn’t mean that your marriage is on the rocks, that you’ve failed the Holy institution itself, that you’ve let down your kids or that you’re emotionally under-developed.
In fact, it means quite the opposite.
It means that you care enough about your marriage and your relationship to acknowledge that there are issues. That you are brave and mature enough to admit that you don’t have all the answers and that you’re prepared for asking help to restore the shine to the thing of beauty that is your relationship.
Think of your marriage as a beautiful sports car. Without regular cleaning, care and maintenance, it’s not likely to stay beautiful. But if the owner regularly hand washes it, gets the oil, filters and brakes changed regularly and keeps the tires full of air, do we think any less of the owner? Of course not!
The same goes for your marriage!
Marriage & couples therapy provides a safe space that’s free of judgment where couples can work on maintaining their relationship and addressing any barriers to happiness with the aid of a trained professional.
If you found yourself too sick to go to work, you’d call a doctor. If you found that you were getting toothaches, you’d get in touch with your dentist. If your hair or nails were getting too long or unruly you’d get them cut. If you felt like you were having trouble with your faith or your relationship with God you’d make an appointment to talk to your pastor. And would you feel any sense of shame or defeat in doing so? Absolutely not! Because these are all basic tenets of caring for oneself.
The exact same thing goes for couples counseling. Think of it as just another important component in your self-care regimen. Something that helps you to lead a happy life with your spouse.
With couples therapy, you’ll learn the mechanisms and skills to...
What a bland and boring world it would be if people went around agreeing with one another the whole time. Disagreement is completely natural, and should be encouraged rather than glossed over. When we here viewpoints that contradict our own, we have the potential to gain a new perspective and grow as a person. Nobody can grow in an echo chamber where their own opinions and values are fed back to them all day, every day.
Of course, the trouble is that people don’t always disagree in a civil way. Spend a few minutes on Twitter and you’ll see how abundantly clear that is.
In our often busy and stressful lives, disagreements can quickly spiral out of control and become arguments. Couples need to reorder the way they think and re-frame disagreements so that they become a positive learning experience rather than something that furthers the divide between you.
With the help of a trained and experienced couples therapist, you will gain the cognitive tools to help you to catch negative thoughts before they are voiced as argumentative statements. Those who have undergone Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will be familiar with this process. All too often we react instinctively and find ourselves saying things that we do not mean, and this can exacerbate arguments and alienate you and your spouse from one another.
With support and therapy, you’ll become more proficient at preventing yourself from making unhelpful statements which could damage your relationship and enjoy more meaningful and productive discourse with your significant other… even when you don’t agree.
There are many different kinds of intelligence. Even those of us who are academically gifted or professionally accomplished can stand to improve their interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.
Interpersonal intelligence means better understanding the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of others while intrapersonal intelligence is all about understanding your own feelings, attitudes and behaviors better.
Although some people have an innately high quotient of these kinds of intelligence, it’s a sad fact that (at least for most of us) life does little to develop these kinds of intelligence in our work or education.
Your dedicated relationship counselor will help you to better understand your own feelings and the way in which they influence your behaviors in both positive and negative ways. You’ll also become more accomplished in doing the same for your spouse.
And when you better understand your feelings and your partner’s, you’re better equipped to take on anything life throws your way together in harmony.
The stress, routine and repetition that make up day-to-day life can start to dull the joyous feelings that you felt for one another on your wedding day. But that doesn’t mean that the joy you derive from one another is gone forever. Your relationship just needs a little TLC to get it back.
With the help of your therapist, you will be able to give yourself and your partner the gift of perspective. This will allow you to see your relationship in a new light. You’ll be able to dust off the grime of day to day living which can dull the magic and beauty of your love and rekindle the spark that made you fall in love in the first place.
For many couples, a marriage isn’t just a physical and mental commitment… it’s a spiritual one, too. Our marriage therapist Dan Johnson is a practicing Christian and can help you in the faith-related aspect of your marriage as well as the physical and psychological aspects. With practical, Biblical-based counseling you will be able to improve your relationship with God even as you improve your relationship with one another.
However, if you are of a different faith (or even of no faith at all) you will still get Dan’s best work as well as the support you need to bring out the best in yourselves and one another.
Hopefully by now you’ve gained a clear idea of what marriage and couples counseling can do for your relationship. But what might it look like from a practical perspective? What actually happens in couples therapy?
While approaches may vary depending on each couple’s individual needs, here are some typical exercises you might expect during counseling...
Your initial couples therapy sessions will be dedicated to getting to know you both and gaining an understanding of your relationship to see how Dan can best address your needs.
While this may start out feeling like an interview, it will gradually grow more conversational. Throughout your therapy, it’s important to maintain an open mind, be respectful and listen to one another while trying to reign in the knee-jerk reactions which can create tensions between you.
Your counselor will likely give you tasks or assignments to work on at home in between your sessions. These are intended to help you put what you learn in your sessions into practice. One example might be re-framing accusatory “you” sentences as “I” sentences to try and help your partner understand how you’re feeling without feeling accused or threatened.
In your next session you will review these assignments and determine how successful, helpful or challenging they were.
Open-ended questions what you’re doing together throughout the week or topics discussed in previous sessions can often be useful jumping-off points for meaningful conversation. They can help you to recognize something helpful your partner has done for you and praise them for their accomplishments. You’ll also be given the chance to air any grievances or misgivings about one another, framed in a positive and constructive manner.
The session may culminate in another homework assignment which will allow you the chance to use a new tool in your communications with one another.
Dan Johnson is a certified LPC-S (Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor) and he runs REID Counseling Group, based out of Katy, Texas. As well as helping couples with their relationships, he also provides individual therapies, family and step family therapies and men’s health services.
If you’re ready to put the spark back into your relationship, perhaps it’s time to get in touch with Reid Counseling. Get in touch with us today at (281) 968-9119.
It might just be the most important phone call you ever make.