It is difficult for many married couples to admit they are having problems. However, most couples at some time or another will go through a trying period. If this happens, seeking marriage counseling advice is one of the most beneficial things to do, as a counselor can help each part of the couple find out the most important issues to tend with and some changes each individual can make.
When going to relationship therapy, being prepared is best and knowing some marriage counseling questions that may arise can be very helpful. The following are some couples counseling questions that a couple may encounter from their marriage counselor, and some things to think about.
Marriage Counseling Questions to Prepare for a Counseling Session or Answer with your Spouse
Though some marriage counselors are more talented at repairing relationships and fixing marriages than others, the vast majority ask similar questions to their clients. You can use these marriage counseling questions to either prepare for an upcoming relationship counseling session, find out if you need help from a professional therapist, or, if you and your partner are committed to repairing your relationship, you can ask these questions of yourself and of each other.
What is one thing you think you could do to improve your relationship?
This question encourages you to take control of your part in the relationship, and to acknowledge that no matter what the situation is, it’s never 100% one person’s fault. You will be asked by your counselor, or if you are conducting this exercise at home, you should take a few minutes to come up with something tangible you can do from now on that will help your partner out and make a better relationship for the two of you. It should be something meaningful but simple, so that you can begin implementing it immediately and frequently, such as following a monthly shopping budget or letting your spouse know if you will be home late and where you will be going.
What is the biggest cause of your arguments?
Think back for a moment…what do you and your spouse fight over most often? Money is a major source of tension between many couples, especially how they should be spending it. Distrust is another major factor, particularly if one or both partners have cheated in the past. The problems could also stem from feeling unloved or unappreciated, or fear that your spouse will leave you. Finding the root cause of disagreements will often lead you to the seed of many of the problems in your marriage.
What, specifically, has changed (deteriorated) since the best days of your relationship?
Children, increased work responsibilities, lack of time for each other, general stress, and other internal and external factors that perhaps didn’t even come from the marriage itself can nonetheless be a major drain on a marriage. Think back to the days when you felt happiest and most in love with your spouse, and contrast the way you feel now. Try to pinpoint the exact things that have changed the way you feel
Think back to your latest argument – WHY did you fight? (Not what do you fight ABOUT)
This is one of the most common couples therapy questions, but it is also one of the most difficult to pinpoint. There may be a lot of things disrupting the marriage at this point, but the couple needs to figure out the specifics. It is probably not that the husband is not taking out the trash, but maybe instead the real issue is that the wife feels she is not being supported. Some common problems that come up in a relationship are things like finances, communication, parenting, career choices and intimacy. Many of the small things can be linked to something larger.
Once problems are identified, a therapist can help a couple prioritize them. As she questions the partners and helps them to vocalize their feelings, the bigger issues can come to the forefront. Even if the most important issues to each partner are different, the therapist can still help the couple to prioritize.
What is each spouse willing to do to help – how far are you willing to go?
Once the issues are prioritized, the counselor may ask both partners what they are willing to do, what changes are willing to be made. The counselor will not tell a couple what to do, but she can help them figure out steps to take. This question also subtly asks each partner how far they are willing to go to save their marriage. In other words, if you’re not willing to put some hard work into repairing your relationship, then maybe the marriage isn’t that important to you and the two of you should just go your separate ways.
Are you willing to admit your problems and work for a year to make your marriage work?
This is one of the marital counseling questions that forces the couple to truly question themselves. Many couples will not see a noticeably better marriage for months after they begin counseling, and up to a year. In other words, are you willing to work day after day, having conversations that may be uncomfortable and tense? Many couples are used to ignoring their marital problems and shutting their partner out. One of the biggest marriage counseling tips is accepting that you will be vulnerable while you are working through this. You will be admitting flaws in yourself and your reasoning with no guarantee that your partner will meet you on the middle ground. However, as the saying goes, it is better to have tried and failed, rather than never have tried at all. Do you really want to go through the rest of your life wondering if you could have prevented a divorce if you had just been willing to work for a year on your marriage?
Tips to Prepare for Your First Marriage Counseling Session
- First off, prepare for the marriage counseling session. Before you go into your first appointment, focus on what you feel some of the strengths and weaknesses of the marriage are. Look at your partner’s flaws and what you feel to be as your flaws. Have your partner do the same thing and write all these feelings down; so when you enter your first counseling session, you’re ready to focus in.
- Both partners will also need to keep in mind that this is counseling. Topics will be brought up in front of a complete stranger on some very personal issues. This may leave you or your partner feeling hurt and vulnerable. Do keep in mind, this is what counseling is for; opening up the communication portal and allowing your partner to understand or at least get a glimpse as to what the other is feeling.
- Your counselor is a professional who follows a strict commitment to confidentiality, so relationship counseling sessions are neither the time nor the place to hold back your thoughts. Let all those repressed feelings out on the table, so as a couple, you can focus on the places where you can be stronger. Your relationship may need to get worse before it can be cured, and sharing every little thing that’s been bothering you will help create a clean path to a healthier marriage.
- Turn off the defense mechanisms. As human beings, we often make excuses for why we do the things we do and subconsciously defend ourselves. You may not be able to understand why your partner feels this way about you and may think the accusation is entirely untrue; but keep in mind, your partner is expressing their feelings to you for a reason. If they feel a certain way, than no amount of logical arguments can persuade them to feel differently. Instead, you have to accept their feelings and work together to solve them.
- If you are religious, you may feel more comfortable talking to your pastor or other religious leader – Christian marriage counseling can help you feel more secure in your meetings and more able to express yourself and work on fixing your marriage.
Hopefully, as your time in counseling moves forward, you’ll be able to feel a higher sense of communication developing between you and your partner. Just remember, be open-minded, honest and trusting. With these three goals in mind, counseling can only lead to greater relationship success.
When seeking counseling, as hard as it may be, honesty is always best. The truth can hurt, but there is no use in making things sound better than they are, and the more honest and clear a married couple is to begin with, the better their chances of fixing a marriage permanently.
Alternative marriage counseling methods are available for people who don’t believe traditional counseling is right for them. However, no matter which method you use, it’s important to get help and have the opportunity to voice your feelings in positive, constructive ways and explore ways to resolve marital problems. Getting marriage help is a wise and a brave step to take, and is the first step to recovery.