Hint: It's about reconnecting, not rehashing.
Here are the six ways to make marriage counseling successful for you:
1. Don't Limit By Location
Most couples end up searching for marriage counselors who are closest to their zip code, are the least expensive, or take insurance. Would you do that if you had a serious illness? A failing marriage is just as threatening to your well-being, so seek out a specialist (not simply the least expensive or the closest marriage counselor).
2. Keep Sight Of The Goal
If you’re going to marriage counseling to bash your spouse or finally get a chance to blame him or her, we can guarantee that it’s not going to work for you. How do we know this? It’s a slippery slope.
Say you’re going to a marriage counselor and you begin blaming your spouse, bringing up all of the fights that happened this past week — that begins to force the counselor to take the side of one of the partners. That is why we NEVER see a couple separately. The best goal of marriage counseling is to connect.
3. Keep Your Marriage Private And Sacred
Your marriage is between you and your spouse. The good, the bad and the ugly needs to stay between the two of you and the professional who you choose to help. You don’t want to talk to friends or post on Facebook about the latest blowup that you had. You really need clean and connected relationship space between the two of you, and including others in that space (with the exclusion of a trained marriage counselor) is going to take away from that space.
4. Take The Work Home With You
Ideally, the best marriage counseling is going to teach you tools that you can implement immediately. When we work with couples, our couples learn how to talk to each other, curbing reactivity and creating an atmosphere of calm and safe, effective communication. You want to take that home with you and practice as much as possible. That’s going to ensure your success.
5. Remember The 90/10 Rule
In our marriage counseling sessions, we teach couples about the 90/10 rule. When something upsets you more than normal, chances are that it's a “blast from the past”. You're getting upset and triggered because it's something from the past that you need to heal, brought to you by your very own spouse.
Even in the session, if your spouse brings up something about you that upset him or her, remember that 90 percent of it is really something that THEY need to work on in order to grow and heal. Yes, 10 percent of it was your behavior, but the reason it bothers them so much is because of their past experience. Still, validate them by listening and taking responsibility for your actions, which is what a good marriage counselor can help you do.
6. Commit To Weekly Sessions For Lasting Impact
In our practice, we find that couples really need 12 consecutive weekly marriage counseling sessions to turn their marriage around. We’re not sure why 12 seems to be the magic number, but that dedicated commitment to the process is what we find most successful in transforming marriages!
This article was originally published at themarriagerestorationproject.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.