In couple counselling - marriage guidance counselling, relationship counselling or pre-marriage counselling, the counsellor aims to give you both equal time and attention. This will help you each to get your side of the story across, without interruptions or rows.
Marriage counselling or relationship counselling can be very helpful even if your partner doesn't want to go. The counsellor will be able to help you without judging either one of you and remaining aware of 'the empty seat'.
This page will help you get a better insight into what exactly happens in couple counselling.
Not at all keen on couples counselling? Read on...
I know there are lots of reasons why people don't like the idea of counselling - let alone couple counselling. However, you can turn the tide all by yourself if your partner seems to have lost the will to work on your relationship.
The best resource I can recommend for you - whether or not your partner is willing to help to make things better - is Save My Relationship/Marriage by Lee Baucom, PhD. As you'll see, Lee has no regard for badly trained couple counsellors!
I do agree that an awful lot of counsellors 'dabble' in couple counselling. They think that they can do the job based on their training in counselling individuals. WRONG! Couple counselling is very different!
Learn how to find a good (relationship) counsellor.
Assuming you have found the right counsellor, here's what marriage or couples counselling can do for you...
Marriage or couples counselling can help you decide what the future might hold for each one of you, and for you as a couple. In marriage counselling you're encouraged and supported to:
A couple counsellor knows that often one of the partners is coming along reluctantly for relationship or marriage counselling. A good counsellor will make every effort to help that person feel at ease.
Of course a partner may also be reluctant if he or she is having an affair. Naturally they'll fear being found out. An experienced couples counsellor will sense when there's information missing... but won't be able to read minds!
What you will NOT get in relationship or couples counselling is:
Often one of the partners doesn't want to go for couple counselling - for whatever reason. Very often it's the male partner. If you really think that relationship or marriage counselling can help and your husband or wife won't go - then you can start by yourself. Your partner may decide to join you at a later stage.
Individual counselling can still help you to:
You can speak to a qualified counsellor now, right from my website.
Just watch this video from the University of Rochester...
Not sure at all that you want to save your relationship or marriage? This Relationship Compatibility Quiz will help you think through all the important issues so that you can make the right decision.
Do you suspect that your partner may be about to leave you? In this case, I want you to be prepared. It's all too easy to do all the wrong things, such as becoming 'clingy' with constant texting, phone calls etc. To find out what you should be doing, hop over to my page on how to stand any chance of a reconciliation.
Pre-marriage counselling is a really good idea before you tie the knot. So many problems can be sorted before you both commit yourself to the marriage, including...
... general communication problems
... issues with in-laws
... financial problems
... problems with the children (if it's not your first marriage)
... sexual problems
It may feel difficult to get the relationship you want when it seems so much is stacked up against you. You might feel it's impossible to stop the marriage preparations. The thought of telling your future wife or husband that you're worried may fill you with horror. Yet in secret, you wonder if you should go ahead with it all.
The good news is that you could perhaps consider talking to your partner about making a really positive step. You're much more likely to get a positive answer if you say you want to invest in the marriage by going for pre-marriage counselling.
If you're both committed to sorting things out, there's every chance that you can have the relationship and marriage you want. A couple/marriage counsellor can certainly help you on your way.
Sorting out your 'personal stuff' is very likely to have a positive impact on your relationship or marriage. You may have been trying to pretend for years that you're over those emotional problems! However, deep down you know that they are still there.
Just think how much better you could be feeling if you finally dealt with all that 'stuff' - traumas and difficulties in the past. It could release emotional and physical energy that you could re-invest in other areas of your life. It's also very likely to contribute towards you having the relationship you want.
Take that first step now and ask the advice of a qualified online counsellor for immediate and confidential support and advice.
Perhaps you've tried all you can do to try and save your relationship or marriage, including marriage guidance or relationship counselling. Maybe you can see no other way forward but to end your relationship.
If you're ending your relationship, I anticipate that you might be struggling for a while - emotionally for sure, but also socially and financially. It's completely normal at this time to suffer grief, feel low/depressed, out of control, angry, upset and so on.
Don't let anybody tell you when you should be over that!
A couple counsellor should be happy to talk with you on the phone about what you can expect from marriage guidance or couple counselling.
However, he or she is unlikely to have a lengthy conversation with you about your difficulties. This is to prevent starting the journey with a knowledge of the problem from one partner's perspective. But you'd be very welcome to chat about what it's like to go for couple counselling or even pre-marriage counselling.
Really not keen on going for couples counselling?
Want to have another go at trying to sort it yourself?
Remember my advice earlier on this page - you can make a real difference all by yourself with Save my Marriage/Relationship.
Good luck - I know you can do it!
Free 3-part Relationship Video Course
Free or Affordable Counselling
How to Find a Counsellor
What is Human Givens Therapy?
What are the Human Givens?
Divorce Advice and Counselling
How to Choose the Best Divorce Lawyer
How to Get over a Nervous Breakdown
How to Survive Infidelity
University of Rochester - Divorce Rate Cut in Half
International Association for Relationship Research