Marital therapy is quite different from individual therapy. In marital therapy the “patient” is the marriage. The focus is on the relationship between the couple and the patterns and problems there, rather than on the inner conflicts or the childhood issues of each individual.
The focus is on the couple and their communication patterns, their resentments or disappointments in each other and on the positive areas in their relationship. The past may be explored to give the therapist some diagnostic understanding of the couple but it is focused on only as it affects the marriage today.
In marital therapy the therapist comments actively on the issues raised, focusing on the process that is occurring between the couple. This is done in a non-blaming way, simply helping the couple see the roles they assume in their relationship. Initially, there may be a great deal of resentment or anger which needs to be dissolved. The therapist helps couples hear the underlying hurt or pain behind the anger.
As couples talk in the safety of the counselor’s office, they gradually are able to let go of negative emotions. They begin to see their relationship in a different way. They may discover new meanings to their partner’s behavior. They may listen to each other and be able to put themselves in the other’s place for the first time. They also may share things never before revealed. All of this leads to a new level of intimacy.
Marital therapy is not an easy or painless procedure. It takes courage and a willingness to let down defenses and risk opening up to someone who may have hurt you in the past. However, marital therapy often produces dramatic, positive results in a short period of time. Working on your marriage is worth the pain and struggle. You will both grow through the process and your marriage will be stronger. You, your children and your extended family will benefit. Marital therapy is worth the cost.
Select a counselor who is trained and skilled in working with couples. Choose a Christian counselor. The counselor’s worldview does make a difference.
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 NIV