Month: April 2012

A Crash Course in Making Marriage Counseling Work for You

Marriage counseling is a big commitment.  Aside from the time and money committed by couples to attend sessions, there needs to be a strong sense of commitment from both parties to better the relationship.   Obviously time and money are tangible ways to assess commitment, but what do the other aspects of a commitment to having a better marriage look like? Here is some food for thought:

Are you willing to do some things differently?  It’s not enough to have a laundry list of changes that you hope your spouse will make.  You have to be willing to make some changes as well.   If you are coming in for counseling to have a better marriage, you may have to give up some patterns of interaction that are identified as obstacles to that stated goal.

Are you willing to be transparent with the counselor?  Research shows that a large percentage of couples start counseling after one or both partners has secretly decided that divorce is the best option.  Imagine how this scenario plays out.  We often ask couples who are thinking of divorce to take that option off the table for a while in order to fully work on the marriage.  After all, if there is a viable plan B it looks better and better as plan A gets harder.  That brings up the next point.

Are you prepared for things to get worse along the road to things getting better?  Growth in any major area of life does not happen in the absence of trials and setbacks.   When you begin to alter the structure of a long term relationship, you should expect that the results will include some growing pains along the way.

Are you willing to take responsibility for yourself and your actions and decisions regardless of what your spouse does?  No one goes into marriage because “it just feels so good to know that someone loves you conditionally!”  We all want unconditional love and expect that to be the case. Yet many couples get locked into a sort of scoring system wherein one only feels compelled to treat the other rightly if the other’s actions warrant it.  How crazy is it really to expect an environment of unconditional love and acceptance while exercising such a calculated approach to the decisions we make on how we respond to and treat our spouse?  Marriage counseling works best when you decide that you will take full responsibility for your own actions and make the choice to respond to your spouse in a manner consistent with your original (hopefully) hopes and dreams for your marriage.

Do you know who the true expert in all things pertaining to your marriage is?  Marriage counseling works best when you utilize the therapist as a resource for helping you to achieve the goals that you have established to make your marriage better.  While a marriage therapist has great experience and exposure to many kinds of marriage and family situations and potential solutions, you cannot expect that he or she will be the agent of change for your marriage.  That responsibility lies with you.   No matter how talented the counselor, until you are ready to change the way things work at home and make genuine efforts to do so, you will be wasting your time and money.

We offer our counseling and therapy services at our Dallas and Mesquite offices. Call us today to setup an consultation that will help your marriage.

When Date Night Just Isn’t an Option

The pace of life and never-ending list of priorities combine to sap the time from each day.  Work responsibilities, home maintenance, parenting and other responsibilities often seem to keep us on the brink of exhaustion.  It is very easy to begin to view one-on-one time with our spouse as a wonderful notion akin to other luxuries that we have conditioned ourselves to forgo in light of the current situation.   The idea of a date night can begin to seem frivolous and even irresponsible, but it is necessary for your marriage.  After all, we often don’t even finish those daily To-Do lists before our exhausted bodies tell us we have to go to bed. 

That said, there are those who maintain that it is irresponsible not to engage in regular on-on-one time with your spouse.  Couples therapist Willard Harley has observed that couples “usually replace their time together with activities of lesser importance… but time alone with each other should still remain your highest priority.  It is essential to spend time away from children and friends to meet the emotional needs of affection, conversation, companionship and sexual fulfillment of each other.” 

Relationship expert and couples therapist Dr. John Gottman’s research has suggested that it takes five positive interactions to each negative one to maintain a healthy relationship’s need for positive interaction.  Purposely having regular time together away from the demands previously mentioned is necessary to facilitate such a high number of positive interactions. 

Date night gives a couple a common goal.  It’s something to look forward to.  It’s a mini-vacation from the urgent to focus on the important (and there is a difference).  In short, date night just isn’t an option.  It’s an absolute requirement. 

If you would like more information or are in need of marriage counseling or therapy, contact our Dallas or Mesquite office to schedule a session.