Whether it’s the never-ending fights or you can’t pinpoint the problem in your relationship, couples therapy can transform your marriage. A couples therapist helps you learn how to trust, connect and support each other, especially when started at the right time. It also enables you to focus on your family and what’s right for your kids.
You’ll need a counselor specializing in family or marriage counseling when you decide to try couples therapy. The process won’t be easy, but there’s a lot to look forward to with these tips on preparing for marriage counseling.
1. Start when both of you are 100% invested and motivated
To rally your significant other to embrace marriage counseling, have an open mind when listening to their concerns. Give your partner the chance to have some of their questions and concerns addressed before starting sessions.
The more dedicated and motivated you are to couples therapy, the more profoundly you’ll heal and grow the relationship. It’s normal to feel anxious, frustrated, and unsettled, but try not to be resentful or hostile to your partner regarding couples counseling.
2. Have an open mind
While most people are open to talking to a mental health professional, they might stigmatize or shame couples therapy. That often happens when you cringe at rigid misconceptions like:
- You and your spouse should handle your issues alone
- Only divorcing couples go for marriage counseling (there’s divorce therapy for that)
- Only “crazy couples” go for marriage therapy
- Couples therapy is about who’s wrong or right
3. Discuss shared goals
Discuss the common goals you’ve agreed upon beforehand when you’re on board about couples counseling in San Diego. Going over your shared goals ahead helps you make the most out of the time you spend with your family therapist.
If both of you aren’t sure about the shared goals, ask yourself whether you’re experiencing these common marital problems:
- Sex or intimacy issues
- Difficulties with healthy communication
- Financial stress
- Parenting disagreements
- Grief and loss
- Struggles with significant life transitions like a new job, relocation, baby, or marriage
These struggles can profoundly affect the comfort and safety needed in a supportive relationship. It’s ok to disagree with your partner on what to prioritize, as a licensed marriage counselor will collaborate with the two of you to create an appropriate treatment plan.
4. Understand family therapy is not about changing a partner
If your marriage feels frustrating, it’s easy to point the finger and blame your spouse for different relationship problems. You might think your spouse is the only one that needs to change, but unilateral change won’t work.
Couples counseling in San Diego is about examining your relationship problems and how each spouse contributes to the dynamic. Marriage counselors don’t determine who’s right or wrong in any matter.
5. Discuss privacy expectations
Some spouses are open about couples therapy and share the work they do with people in their lives, while others are discreet. Regardless of your preference, try and be united about what you choose to share as a couple.
Licensed marriage counselors in San Diego, CA, are obligated to confidentiality, so you shouldn’t hesitate to discuss your problems. They’ll keep your identity private unless there’s an extreme emergency like children’s endangerment or suicidal thoughts.
6. Be Honest
If you’re struggling to discuss your marital problems with your therapist, remember that marriage counselors have comprehensive training to help various people. These relationship specialists listen to difficult issues all day long, and they may have handled similar problems in their daily life.
With that in mind, try and be as honest as you can without any negative feelings. Remember, you’re spending time and money on marriage counseling.
7. Be Committed
Good couples therapy requires commitment. Your therapy appointments need to be a non-negotiable priority for things to work. Some couples might choose to go for relationship counseling together, while others opt for individual counseling. Either way, there’s no right or wrong method.
How to Get the Most From your Marriage Counseling Sessions
Couples counseling requires active participation. You’ll only get the relationship you desire if you’re willing to commit to the work. Here are marriage counseling tips to help you get the most from your therapy sessions.
1. Do your homework
Many couples therapists in California will give spouses homework to complete before the next session. The homework helps you practice new skills and improve your treatment outcomes.
If a certain assignment is hard for you to complete, note it and discuss it with your family therapist in the next session. Even when your spouse doesn’t meet their assignment, focus on your part for personal growth.
2. Share arising concerns
If you feel like your relationship is stagnant or getting worse, discuss the concerns with your marriage therapist. It’s normal for family therapy to feel worse initially, but that’s because couples start focusing on their relationship issues.
Let them know if you disagree with how your therapist approaches a problem. Many therapists in San Diego are receptive to feedback, and they’re committed to ensuring their approach works for you.
3. Engage during therapy
Effective communication is crucial to the success of your therapy sessions. However, good communication is more difficult than most people believe.
Remember that you’re responsible for expressing yourself no matter how your therapist or spouse treats you. That’s why both of you must speak from your heart.
4. Focus on changing yourself
Don’t discuss your relationship during therapy sessions or when doing your homework. Try discussing the new techniques and insights you’re learning while spending time with your partner at home.
Discussing the lessons learned at therapy while at home helps both spouses stay accountable and committed to the process. It also strengthens your connection and emotional intimacy.
5. Be Open to Continued Growth
Your relationship growth shouldn’t stop when couples counseling ends. Growing your relationship is a lifelong process that needs compromise and dedication.
Keep working with your spouse to integrate the lessons learned in therapy and continually grow your relationship. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist for help if you find your relationship regressing or having difficulties dealing with emerging issues.
Looking for Marriage & Couples Therapy in California? Talk to Our San Diego Therapist Counselor
The San Diego Therapist Counselor is dedicated to helping individuals establish healthy communication and solve their issues. I use cognitive behavioral therapy to help partners find relief from intrusive thoughts, depression, and anxiety, leading to healthier relationships. Call 858-481-0425 to get in touch with Jan Rakoff, LCSW today.