Even happily married couples can stumble on the way. When this happens, couples can either go it alone or reach out for guidance from a trained, experienced marriage counselor. Sometimes when it is not possible for both partners to attend counseling, individual counseling can still be helpful.
Sarah is part of a couple I had been seeing for some time. Sarah became increasingly depressed and sought individual counseling to address that depression. She came to realize that the ways she interacts with her husband have their roots in the lessons learned in her family of origin. As she worked through these patterns, her marriage shifted. The stuck dynamic between them began to have more flexibility. Sarah was able to see her stuck patterns of relating and begin to change them. That changed her relationship
Here are 3 ways individual counseling can benefit your marriage:
1) Help you identify unproductive behavioral patterns
Most of us are aware of our partners’ behaviors, especially in the ways those behaviors might negatively impact us. We tend to be less aware of our own. Most challenges a couple faces are the result of patterns between them. An example: I shut down; you complain; the more you complain, the more I shut down. If you only see your half of the dynamic – you complaining, not me shutting down – then the problems can seem overwhelming and confusing.
A therapist is trained to help individuals recognize the beginnings of these patterns as they occur. Both partners are able to notice and can then step out of this cycle, preventing escalation. It is like that old kid’s game involving interlocking gears- when you pick one gear and move it, the whole board spins differently.
2) Change at the root level
Once your therapist has helped you identify negative patterns, then you can begin to understand why they are happening. You can change. Many of our behavioral patterns are formed when we are very young. They are the ways we learned to survive and thrive as children at home, in school, and with friends.
3) Deeper intimacy
A therapist can help you practice these adjustments and encourage you to remain consistent. The result is deeper intimacy and a renewed commitment to meet each other’s needs.
While it is often difficult to reach out for help and discuss your problems in front of a stranger, a marriage counselor can help you to move your relationship into a more fulfilling phase of your partnership.
If you are interested in exploring counseling, contact us today. We would be happy to speak with you about how we can help.