How Does Marriage Counseling Work?
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is trained as a Psychologist, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and is a Board Certified Life Coach. She is the Founder of Growing Self Counseling and Life Coaching in Denver, Colorado.
Dr. Bobby is the host of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.
Couples new to marriage counseling often wonder, “How can marriage counseling help us?” or my favorite “We’ve already talked about it all– how will talking about it again in your office make it different?”
Here are some ways that marriage counseling works to help you improve your relationship:
#1. Good Marriage Counseling helps you hear each other, and have productive conversations instead of another fight.
The truth is that when a relationship is stressed, negative communication patterns creep into many interactions. It becomes extremely difficult to have a productive, helpful conversation where you can actually feel closer, more connected, and find solutions to a problem. Instead, negative communication makes a couple react badly to each other and conversations escalate into fights, disintegrate — or people just stop talking.
So even if you’re “talking about it” you may not be moving forward. In marriage counseling, you are getting support in hearing each other, and learning how to be responsive to what your partner is saying.
#2. Marriage Counseling supports emotional safety and connection.
Expert marriage counselors do many things to help couples (education, coaching, skills, new ideas, emotional support, accountability ) but most importantly, they provide a safe environment where a couple can communicate without the influence of negative communication patterns.
This allows people to really listen to each other, and understand each other. With this understanding often comes empathy, feelings of emotional closeness, new solutions to old problems, and a desire to change for the better. In this emotional climate, it becomes easier to unravel negative patterns that cause problems outside of the counseling room and create positive, lasting change.
#3. Good Marriage counseling offers direct guidance about what to do differently.
Talking to each other intimately, and fostering emotional connection and understanding is the first phase of marriage counseling. It helps couples have new, healing experiences with each other and reconnect with their love.
However, talking about things isn’t enough. In Marriage Counseling, just like anything else, the only thing that will really change your relationship is taking positive action. This means that you need to follow through with the things that you talk about in marriage counseling.
There are many therapists who work with couples who do not have specialized training and experience in marriage counseling. Many times these well meaning therapists can help couples have productive conversations, but the work stops there. Couples often come to Growing Self frustrated with previous attempts at couples counseling, because they felt they didn’t get enough practical support and guidance about “what to do.”
The marriage counselors of Growing Self specialize in positive, action oriented strategies that will help you make real-world changes. Once you’ve developed understanding and connection through supported conversations, you can expect to leave your marriage counseling sessions with practical solutions for how to maintain the positive changes in your relationship.
How Does Marriage Counseling Work?
It’s a process of growing together…
Marriage counseling works on a number of different levels to help you and your partner create a happier relationship, and it happens in phases. I like to use the metaphor of gardening to help people understand the process.
#1. Preparing the Soil
On the first level, marriage counseling works because you and your partner have made the choice together to seek help in making things better. The fact that you both say “we need to do some things differently” puts both of you in a receptive and more willing state of mind to make changes. Making the decision to enter marriage counseling is like preparing the soil for the seeds of change to be planted.
#2. Planting the Seeds
As an unbiased third party, we can get to know both of you and then help you two to understand each other. As your marriage counselor comes to understand each of your feelings then he or she can then interpret what you are really saying and feeling to your partner in a way that they can understand. Your marriage counselor will help you transcend the repetitive fights that may be happening now, and you will begin to have new perspective. As understanding increases, the “same old fights” will start to feel more productive.
Your marriage counselor helps you understand the systemic patterns occurring between the two of you. You begin to understand how you are each affecting the other, and perhaps contributing to the other’s position in the relationship, and then you will be more able to make different choices. During the time of new understanding the seeds of change are planted.
#3. Tending the Garden
Then your marriage counselor will work with you to come up with ideas of how to do things differently at home, based on the conversations you are having in marriage counseling sessions. You marriage counselor will help you to see what behaviors you both might be engaging in during interactions with each other that are not helpful. You will start to experiment with new ways of doing things. During this time the seeds of true change begin to grow.
Communication skills are another important area of good marriage counseling. Learning how to talk so that your partner can listen to you is an essential relationship skill, as is deep listening and personal reflection. Learning how to intentionally listen to your partner is not always an easy thing to do. Being in a supportive environment with your marriage counselor, where you and your partner are to able take in what each is saying will help your connection with each other to grow. It will also support the growth of the new skills you are practicing.
The beautiful harvest season of all of this growth is increased maturity in each of you, new empathy for each other, and new enjoyment of each other. When you understand how you’re each affecting the other and are able to communicate the love and attachment that is underneath it all, you can transcend any conflict. You will feel like your partner “gets you.” You will have more fun together. You will have happy new experiences with each other that will reinforce all the growth you have accomplished.
We have walked with many couples along this journey of connection, growth, and change. Couples who go through the process of successful marriage counseling leave with a newfound sense of commitment, appreciation, and love for their partner. They go on to use the techniques and ways of communicating in our sessions. And then… life happens. Babies are born, new jobs are taken, people change and grow again.
Sometimes couples find that it’s helpful to stay connected with their marriage counselor for quarterly “check ins” or during stressful periods when they feel like they may be reverting back to old behaviors. Then after a “touch-up” marriage counseling session or two, they can get back to a good place much more quickly and easily. A relationship with a good marriage counselor offers long-term support for your marriage. We are committed to helping you have a happy, healthy relationship together.
You provided us such a safe place to be honest with ourselves and with each other our fear of being vulnerable and weak were transformed into a feeling of opportunity to be heard. My husband and I are better friends, parents, lovers and companions than we have ever been.
Meet a Few of Our Relationship Experts
The marriage counselor, couples therapists and premarital counselors of Growing Self have specialized training and years of experience in helping couples reconnect. We use only evidence based strategies that have been proven by research to help you restore your strong bond, and love your relationship again.
Teresa Thomas is a marriage counselor and couples therapist with years of experience in helping couples communicate more effectively, find new solutions to old problems, repair their strong bond, rebuild trust after affairs, successfully blend families, improve their sexual intimacy, and parent joyfully together. She is a couples therapist and parenting coach with a positive, solution focused style who specializes in helping you both make positive changes to your life, as well as to your relationship.
Meagan Terry is a relationship specialist. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over nine years of experience in helping couples reconnect, and enjoy each other again. She uses effective, evidence based forms of marriage counseling including Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy and The Gottman Method. In addition to working one-on-one with couples, she teaches our Lifetime of Love premarital and relationship class.
M. A., LMFTC
Seth Bender is a marriage and family therapist with specialized training and experience in helping couples heal their relationships, improve communication, release resentments, and achieve new levels of enjoyment and fulfillment with each other. He practices Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to help you strengthen your bond, as well as positive, empowering and solution focused coaching strategies to help you both take positive action in your relationship.
M. S., ASORC
Dori is a kind, empathetic couples counselor, individual therapist, and life coach who specializes in sex therapy, and helping couples create healthy emotional and sexual intimacy. Her friendly style makes it safe to talk about anything, and her solution-focused approach helps you move past the past, and into a bright new future of intimacy and connection.
Brittany specializes in helping couples strengthen their bond, and heal old hurts, in order to develop a more secure and satisfying relationship. She can help you both understand yourselves, and each other, so that you can create new, positive ways of relating that heal your connection— on every level.
M.A., N.C.C., LMFT-C
Anastacia's authentic, caring approach to marriage counseling and relationship coaching helps couples find each other's "noble intentions," and re-commit to showing each other love and respect. She can help you heal old hurts, improve your communication, restore trust, and work together as a team.
Amanda is a Marriage Counselor and Relationship Coach with a warm, gentle style that will help you both feel comfortable, respected, and understood. She has a gift for helping couples understand each other compassionately, feel emotionally safe, and start enjoying each other again.
Polly is a marriage counselor with over 25 years of experience in helping couples "come back from the brink," heal their strong bond, and enter into a positive and satisfying new chapter of life together. Her warm, competent style will put you both at ease and help you find new solutions to old problems.
Just knowing that you were going to ask me about my homework made me do it. I did things with you that I couldn’t do on my own.
Love, Happiness & Success AdviceFrom Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby's Blog and Podcast
More Marriage Counseling Questions?
We Have Answers.
If you have more questions about Marriage Counseling, we are happy to answer them in person. Schedule a free consultation session with one of our expert marriage counselors today. You can meet with them at our Denver or Westminster office locations, or through online video conferencing. Help yourself to the best day and time right now through our online calendars, or call 720-370-1800 for personal assistance in scheduling. (Our phones are answered 24/7). In a private, professional environment we can get to know each other, you can talk about your hopes for your relationship, and start moving forward together in mending your marriage.