Going Solo: Marriage Counseling on Your Own | Engaged Marriage

Going Solo: Marriage Counseling on Your Own

By Dustin | Communication

Note: This is a guest post on a fascinating topic by Naomi at Power of Two Marriage Blog.

It’s safe to say that no one dreams of a marriage full of constant bickering, passive aggressive anger, and a non-existent love life.

However, when it comes down to living intimately with one other person—making decisions, dealing with differences and quirks, raising children—this is the reality that many, if not most, couples face at some point in their relationship.

Why You Should Consider Couples Counseling

Couples counseling exists as a resource for all married folks—from those with minor problems to couples who are on the brink of divorce—to repair and renew their relationship. Numerous studies have proven that certain counseling approaches lead to dramatically better marriages.

At the same time, couples counseling remains, in general, taboo in America. Many people feel very uncomfortable with the idea of seeing a therapist. Part of this stems from a misunderstanding of what couples therapy is and what it can provide.

A key part of couples counseling is to help you and your spouse analyze habits of communication and action to figure out what is leading to the unpleasantness in your marriage. Most of the time these are things you don’t even realize you’re doing!

From there, you can learn skills (yes, skills) for how to communicate effectively and increase positivity. But wait, you say, nobody needs to teach me how to interact with my spouse!

Think about it this way: if you’re in any sort of sales or mergers position in a business, chances are you will be trained on how to negotiate, make decisions, and communicate effectively. Marriage is not just love, it’s also negotiating a partnership, and it requires similar skills!

Marriage counseling gives you a really useful tool kit for this purpose.

The Power of Solo Therapy

So, you see some problem areas in your relationship, and you’re ready to move forward with marriage skill-building. At the same time, the problem looms: what if my spouse refuses to do it with me?

This may be the #1 deterrent for couples who could benefit from marriage education.

The good news is: you can go it alone and still make a huge difference. Yes, it’s best when both individuals in a couple take on a project by learning and practicing.

At the same time, one spouse upgrading his or her skills will still raise the quality of interactions of both of them. Why is that?

The old saying, “a rising tide raises all boats,” is oh-so-true when it comes to your relationship. This is because the atmosphere of a marriage involves two people reacting and bouncing off each other, both setting the tone and pattern for interactions.

As one person learns to stop acting in anger and to give forth radically more positive energy – more affection, appreciation, playfulness, insight, and willingness to apologize for mistakes – both spouses feel better.  In turn, feeling better builds patience for handling problems in a more respectful way.

Add in new communication skills for talking about sensitive issues, and solving problems becomes easier, leading to even more positive feelings.  In this way, one person’s learning launches a positive cycle of feeling and doing better for both of you.

Try out changing little details of your behavior today, and see what an impact it has. For example, set a goal of giving your spouse 10 compliments today. Or, keep track of each time either of you use “but” when you argue, and then use “and” instead.

If you’re interested in learning more about marriage and relationship education and counseling, check out Power of Two Online (http://poweroftwomarriage.com). Po2 is a web-based interactive approach to help people improve their relationships. It’s full of fun activities, videos and games, and each user gets paired with a real live coach to guide them on their way. It’s a great opportunity to learn powerful skills on your own, or with your partner.

Have you had any experience with marriage counseling without your spouse?  What do you think of the idea? Please share in the comments!

(photo source)
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About the Author

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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(15) comments

Dean Mehrkens

Good article and interesting topic. I think there’s a lot of people who think marriage counseling REQUIRES both husband and wife to be present. But even if only one person starts changing and putting their spouse’s needs above their own, it has a dramatic impact on the marriage, and over time will start to rub off.

Reply
Prefer to be anon

In theory, I think counseling is a great thing. In personal experience, it wasn’t so much. In my previous marriage (resulted in divorce), we went. The counselor could not remember even the basic facts about us from visit to visit, and it was a total waste. Post-divorce, I sought counseling on my own, and after a discussion with one guy, another guy came in and they talked about me (in front of me), and the guy I had been talking to said basically that I was depressed. No duh. So I think what is really hard is to be persistent enough and willing to spend enough money to find a good counselor.

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anderapadoker

This is fantastic post. I think marriage counseling is the best in a way where both are not even hearing each other but the best is the thing as dean said that by sacrifice of one their is always a solution to other.

marriage counseling Orange County

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Tony

I found going to counseling by myself largely ineffective. My ex-wife still had her affair, still got her divorce and never joined me in working on being a better, more loving partner and more cooperative parent.

Since marriage is a joint venture, eventually both partners have to get on-board. If she persists in continuing her affair, then no amount of solo counseling is going to overcome such marital misconduct.

It’s a good idea to go alone. But what would really help is if the spouse who is having her affair would work with her husband and the counselor on a plan to restore romantic love to her marriage.

As long as that doesn’t happen, no amount of solo counseling will do any good, other than helping the betrayed spouse heal from his wife’s affair.

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a marriage education fan

The comments on marriage counseling being better in theory sometimes than in practice really speak to me. I’m a therapist myself and too many of my colleagues haven’t a clue about how to do marriage themselves. How can they then coach their clients? For that reason, a marriage ed course like the PowerOfTwoMarriage one that the guest post above talks about is a safer bet. At least you know that the skills you are learning really do make for healthy marriages. And it’s way easier to do the learning from your computer at home than to make appointments, get a babysitter or miss work, end up with a therapist you don’t like…….

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    Tony

    One other thing you helped me think about. Many who hang out their shingle for marriage and family counseling really are not interested in helping you have a better marriage or family. They just want you to feel good about the circumstance or decision you’ve already made.

    How many times have I read about someone who wanted marriage counseling to address some serious problems in the marriage, and the counselor gives a “green light” to some seriously messed up marital misconduct. “So your spouse is having an affair? What did you do to force her to have her affair?”

    Really?

    Now I understand, she wasn’t there, so focusing on her behavior wasn’t really fruitful. But then again, I didn’t hold a gun to her head and say I’m not willing to meet your needs, so if you want to be really happy, start carrying on with a man old enough to be your father.

    There is some really bad therapy out there that just teaches some folks how to deal with the guilt of their decisions, or worse, they lay the guilt of others decisions on you.

    I’ve seen both bad and good marital therapists and coaches. If you are going to go it alone, make sure your professional believes in your goals and has a track record of success.

    That’s not a formula for success, because as I said before, it eventually takes both you and your spouse working towards the same goal to build a marriage. But just as your spouse may not join forces with you if you are going to the best pro-marriage therapist or coach money can buy. They certainly will not be attracted back into the marriage if you have a coach or therapist with poor skills and limited experience at successfully coaching the spouse who wants to restore his marriage.

    Reply

    This is a good point that “many of my colleagues haven’t a clue about how to do marriage themselves.”

    Are marriage counselors obligated to disclose to their clients if they have been married three times and are currently going through a nasty divorce with their third spouse? This kind of information should be as required as their educational background and state licensing credentials.

    Reply

It’s better not to wait when something is going wrong in life and/or relationship. If one is having a serious problem and not able to handle it, obviously its better to go for a counseling.Because whatever problems one is facing in marriage if don’t address it in time then in the long term it may spoil the life totally.

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Lee

I do not think going alone is a good idea your spouse can make up things

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TAMI

I’m in counseling to help ME. I’m married to an introverted, alcoholic that looks like a homeless man. He has been mistaken as my dad on numerous occassions. His teeth are falling out, his clothes are a mess. On the other hand, I look like I just walked out of the pages of Southern Living. It is ME has has paid off our house, bought our cars and paid for our vacations. Sadly, in a divorce, I have to give his loser HALF of everything and then take on half of his debt.
Not going to happen. I will stay married to this ugly slob. His son hates him. My family and friends hate him. I’m ready to start dating and living life again. He can watch from the sidelines. I’m just hoping he drinks himself into a coffin so we can truly move on.

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I hadn’t thought about how couples therapy can help you communicate better with your spouse. I have been having marital troubles recently. I can see how it would be nice to try therapy. That way, we might be able to better communicate about the issues we’re having.

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My wife and I haven’t been on good terms lately, so we might get counseling together. I like your point about how you a counselor can help you analyze the habits that are ruining the marriage. Having someone that can act as a mediator and help us identify these habits would be ideal.

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Beek

For a before I do’s marriage class are both partners suppose to attend this?

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very informative article. Thanx for sharing this to those who want to marry with someone special. It’s good to be married but it’s better to be sure about marriage. I am Dr. Robert Puff (Ph.D.). I am a marriage counselor in Newport Beach. Contact us for any query regarding counseling.
http://www.doctorpuff.com

Reply

very informative article. Thanx for sharing this to those who want to marry with someone special. It’s good to be married but it’s better to be sure about marriage. I am Dr. Robert Puff (Ph.D.). I am a marriage counselor in Newport Beach. Contact us for any query regarding counseling at 714-337-4889

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