Ask Peter: Marriage Counselling

Even the best of couples hit a rough patch every now and then. I’ve been a witness of numerous relationships that had a marvellous start, and all was peaches and cream. I’ve also seen these marriages hit a rocky road, sometimes because one or both people simply stopped trying, sometimes because romance gave way to parenthood – the list of culprits is almost endless. However, the same thing I always recommend is marriage counselling. I firmly believe that turning to an unbiased and impartial professional who has an abundance of experience can save a relationship, especially if you turn to one in a timely manner. It is exactly for this reason that I’m here today – to share with you the types and methods used in marriage counselling in the hopes that, like numerous of my close friends, you too can find your way back to each other.

When depression creeps in

When one of the suspected culprits of a relationship gone sour is depression, one of the best approaches in my opinion is emotionally focused couples therapy. One of the signs of depression is the desire to alienate yourself from others, your spouse included, and that’s never good as the basis of every good marriage is communication. The key goals of this kind of counselling are expansion and reorganization of key emotional responses. It allows for one person to ‘walk a mile’ in their partner’s shoes, therefore creating an environment of understanding and empathy, which has proven quite effective for a large number of couples.

When the doors of communication are shut

There are couples who are simply unequipped with the wonderful ability to communicate, which I firmly believe is one of the pillars of a healthy and strong relationship. Lack of communication often leads to passive-aggressive behaviours and alienation of affection. If this sounds familiar, you definitely need to turn to someone. Luckily, communication is a skill that can be perfected, but it requires a conscious effort. That’s exactly what the role of a therapist is – to open the doors of healthy and constructive communication. What may seem clear to you isn’t always clear to your partner. It’s important for you to speak your mind rather than to expect one another to read moods and body language. A therapist can guide you on that path of healthy communication and eliminate misunderstandings. It might feel a touch unnatural at first but will help you and your partner to support and nurture each other.

When you’re embarrassed of admitting it

One of the most common problems couples have is the embarrassment. They’re aware of their issues, but are reluctant to ‘air the dirty laundry’ in front of a complete stranger. As someone who is a hopeless romantic and who believes that love does conquer all, I did some digging in an attempt to find a solution for these types of couples. The best answer I found is online counselling because it guarantees privacy and discretion. You’ll get the help you need without everyone knowing that you’ve been seeing a couples’ therapist, and the professionals are equally skilled and knowledgeable. Of course, there’s the added perk of not having to leave your home.

When you can’t put your finger on it

I can’t remember the number of times I’ve heard one of my married friends say: “it’s like, everything is fine on the surface, but inside, it’s just not working.” This is a major issue because there are times when you don’t need counselling and you can work it out on your own, but you have to know what the issue is in order to be able to tackle it. Again, I did my homework and found that in these particularly tricky cases, the best course of action is the psychodynamic approach to therapy. This method helps uncover underlying issues as well as their roots and it’s most useful when irrational patterns of reacting exist. Psychodynamic counsellors believe that that significant life events and childhood experiences shape peoples’ behaviours and ways of thinking, and negative experiences can create an unfulfilled need or a distorted view of reality that leads to dysfunctional behaviour. For example, if as a child you’ve been witness to infidelity, it can cause you to have trust issues and unrealistic expectations from a relationship. The role of the therapist is to unveil those experiences, change distorted perceptions and eliminate irrational reactions in the present.

~ Peter Minkoff, Associate Editor

Speak Your Mind