Many people opt for marriage counseling when they feel like things are not going well in their relationship. I’m sometimes asked, “Do couples always manage to patch up their relationship by going to see a counsellor?” I would say this depends on how determined and committed both individuals are to the process, to learning and practicing new skills and their ability to take ownership, without blaming other, for their part in the breakdown of the marriage. Some people wait until things are really going badly, instead of getting help early and avoiding unnecessary angst.
The Importance of Communication
I think it is fair to say that when you keep all your thoughts and emotions bottled up inside you it is definitely going to lead to trouble in your relationship. Taking the opportunity of airing out your grievances with a counsellor can be a good thing, as for some it feels like the first time they really feel heard, validated and understood. It also allows new learnings, understanding and clarification for the other partner, instead of the dangerous assumptions that one often makes and are more often than not wrong! I feel it is important to say that the goal of good communication is greater understanding of each other and of yourself, without getting back into the fight and defending your position. To keep connected instead of separate or distanced! It is a skill and when learnt – Wow what a difference you will see in your relationship!!!
Effective and Ineffective Modes of Communication
Communication has to be done in a respectful way to your partner, with no judgement, blame, criticism or contempt. Screaming, yelling or freezing one another out is not going to get either of you anywhere. Both of you need to be calm for effective communication!! As you express your concern or issue respectfully, firstly it is important to speak from the ‘I’ and not the ‘You’, therefore owning your experience. The tone in which you speak is also very important when it comes to communication, as it is not all about the words you say, but how you say it!! Being the listener to your partner’s issue or concerns is also a very important role, as it is important to imagine what this must be like for them and validate their reality. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with all their reality, but it is important to make the effort of trying to understand even a part of your partner’s experience of the incident and show some empathy.
Learning How to Communicate Effectively
As a marriage counselor, I can help you to learn to communicate in an effective, constructive way that gets across to your partner your needs, desires, feelings, thoughts – anything really that is meaningful to you! At first, speaking in this way may seem very forced as we learn new skills. You may feel like this is not the way people usually speak. You may find it unnatural. However, as time goes by, you will see that this way of communicating becomes more natural and you feel happier within yourself and in your marriage.
Taking the Time to Rebuild Your Marriage
I feel it is important to remember that you can’t repair your relationship in a day. But take heart that many couples and individuals have shared with me that they have felt a shift and a sense of relief even after the first session. With the learning of new skills and time to process each individuals regrettable incidents, there is definitely hope to repair your marriage, so I encourage you to Contact us to book a session and build new skills for your relationship. Let’s talk before it breaks!
Ginny Lindsay is a Sydney based relationship counsellor and psychotherapist who supports individuals and couples moving from pregnancy into parenthood. With 40% of divorces happening during pregnancy or in the first 3 years of a child’s life, Ginny established From 2 to 3 to offer support early before a relationship breaks down.