Each marriage comprises multiple relationships: spousal relationships; in-law relationships; parent and child relationships; sibling relationships; friendships. For a marriage to endure, the couple must attend daily to the spousal relationship. Relationships, like plants, require constant nurture. Nurture’s elements are simple: attentiveness, conversation, patience, care, love, and respect. Couple’s frequently need help to maintain their marriage. Help comes in many forms; one of the most reliable is marriage counseling. Marriage counseling can help couples resolve conflicts and heal wounds.
Marriage counseling always focuses on conversation, on communication—verbal and nonverbal, on discrepencies between what one person says and what the other hears. Making marriage counseling work requires effort, patience, and practice. Practice makes conversation possible. Conversation makes trust possible. Trust preserves marriages.
Marriage counseling is appropriate for anyone in a relationship or contemplating a relationship. At its website, the Mayo Clinic answers the question: “What is marriage counseling”?
“Marriage counseling, also called couples therapy, helps couples — married or not — understand and resolve conflicts and improve their relationship. Marriage counseling gives couples the tools to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem solve and even argue in a healthier way.
“Marriage counseling is generally provided by licensed therapists known as marriage and family therapists. These therapists provide the same mental health services as other therapists, but with a specific focus — a couple’s relationship.
“Marriage counseling is often short term. You may need only a few sessions to help you weather a crisis. Or you may need marriage counseling for several months, particularly if your relationship has greatly deteriorated. As with individual psychotherapy, you typically see a marriage counselor once a week.”
Persons contemplating marriage may choose to engage in couples therapy before marriage. Again, the Mayo Clinic explains why:
“You don’t need to have a troubled relationship to seek therapy. Marriage counseling can also help couples who simply want to strengthen their bonds and gain a better understanding of each other. Marriage counseling can also help couples who plan to get married. This pre-marriage counseling can help you achieve a deeper understanding of each other and iron out differences before a union is sealed.”