Generally speaking, couples who seek out marriage counselling have a desire to overcome their differences and work together towards a happier and stronger relationship.
We have attached a case study to give you an indication of what you can expect from couples counselling.
Sophie and Peter* have been attending marriage counselling at New Vision Psychology.
In their first session, the psychologist asked them to take turns to articulate how they felt in their relationship.
Peter began, and said that he felt that everything in the relationship was fine.
He thinks Sophie is a good wife and mother, and that he still definitely loves her.
Peter said that they argue sometimes, but he thinks this is normal.
He said that it is Sophie who seems to think there are problems in the relationship, and this can frustrate him at times.
He feels that he is already doing a lot (like working, looking after the children, and doing housework), and so does not know why Sophie is still unhappy with him.
Sophie stated that Peter’s response, where he does not know why she is unhappy, is part of the reason that they are in counselling.
Sophie feels that she has been very clear about why she is upset, and Peter still doesn’t get it.
She says that he ignores her in the evenings, and always seems to be preoccupied with something else.
She also feels that he does not really want to speak to her anymore.
Generally, Sophie feels that she is not prioritised in the relationship and that she and Peter act like friends.
With an understanding of how each person feels about the relationship, the psychologist now works to identify shared goals that the couple can aim towards. It is clear that Sophie’s goal in the relationship is to feel like Peter is prioritising her, which is demonstrated by spending quality time together. On reflection, Peter, too says that he wants to have more quality time.
The couple agree that after work, they should set aside time to speak to each other (and not just to finish chores or watch tv). This could be by making sure that they sit at the dinner table and eat together, or to have a chat after the kids go to bed. The couple now have concrete plans to ensure that they stay connected and prioritise each other.
Future sessions will look at other ways to stay connected, such as improving communication, ways to avoid misunderstandings, and how to navigate conflict in a useful way.
* the names have been changed to protect client privacy