Yes, a lot of marriages end in divorce. You likely had friends or family list statistics about the state of marriage in the US to you when you first announced your intentions with your partner.
Not only does that not help in the long run, but it also doesn’t feel very supportive. Instead of focusing on what could go wrong down the road, choose a couples counselor who you can meet with now, to increase the chances of your marriage succeeding in the future.
Couples who go to counseling have a higher chance of staying together because they learn what it means to be a functional couple. Ready to find someone to help set you on the right marriage path? Learn how to choose a couples counselor, below.
1. Get on the Same Page About What Marriage Counseling Means
The media does us a disservice by only ever showing couples in marriage counseling when things are at their worst. In the movies, couples only go when they’re getting divorced, someone cheated, or there was another acute crisis.
And while people go to marriage therapy for those things (and should), couples therapy is helpful for every couple, no matter where they are in their relationship.
Many churches encourage pre-marital counseling, which is a good idea, even if you’re not religious. Non-religious pre-marital counseling can help you and your spouse understand your expectations for each other in your marriage and even give you insight into each other’s love languages and strongest forms of communication.
Therapy, at its root, is there to help us understand ourselves. Couples therapy helps you know who you are as a couple.
If you find that your partner is resistant to going to couples therapy, it may be because they have a bad image of it in their head. Reassure your partner that there’s nothing wrong with talking to someone about your marriage and that it will strengthen it.
If your partner is in therapy themselves, this may be something they need to bring up with their counselor.
See if you can get your resistant partner to commit to a finite number of sessions. Three is a good place to start. Once you’re in therapy and they see how much it improves your connection, they’ll likely revise their stance. You can always bring up this resistance during the sessions themselves.
2. See What Resources You Have Available to You
Unfortunately, therapy isn’t always covered by health insurance in the United States. However, some plans cover certain providers, and others will pay for a certain number of sessions. The easiest way to find this out is to call your insurance provider.
If you do have coverage of some sort, the person on the phone can give you a list of covered or partially covered providers in your area. Comparing counseling fees and insurance benefits is a realistic step most people have to take.
Keep in mind that some providers don’t accept insurance themselves but will give you an invoice you can send to your insurance company, who will then pay you back for all or part of the session cost.
If you have no coverage and can’t pay out of pocket, some governmental agencies host healthy relationship classes, have options for counselors, and many churches have a relationship counseling program. You may have to pick and choose the parts of religious offerings you listen to if you’re not religious.
3. Decide What Type of Therapy Fits You Best
There are tens, if not hundreds, of theories about marriage and couples. Over the years, psychologists have taken those theories and turned them into official therapy modalities. Below are a few of the most popular ones licensed couples counselors use and what they’re like.
The Gottman Method
Dr. Gottman and his wife coined this marriage theory based on over four decades of research. Their system involves three steps: first, you and your spouse go through an assessment.
The assessment includes one joint session, then a session with each partner. You may fill out questionnaires or other physical evaluations about how you think your relationship is serving you.
Once the first three sessions are complete, then the therapist will meet with the couple to go over perceived strengths and weaknesses. That’s step two.
Step three involves different Gottman-method therapeutic interventions based on what your previous sessions revealed. Your therapist will work with you in person and give you things to try at home.
The overall goal of the Gottman Method is to “disarm conflicting verbal communication, increase intimacy, respect, and affection,” among other things.
Emotionally Focused Therapy
IF you’ve been learning about your attachment type via Tiktok, or have heard about it via more official avenues, then you may be interested in EFT.
It’s a heavily researched and practiced modality that aims to address couples’ concerns in a short time frame (while other modalities don’t have time frames built-in). EFT will go over how your childhood and parenting shaped how you and your partner act in relationships, how those experiences interact, and what you can do to improve.
The goals of EFT are to “re-organized key emotional responses, create positive shifts in partners interactions, and foster secure bonds.”
EFT is not the same thing as the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is also referred to as “tapping.”
Collaborative Couples Therapy
Our daily lives revolve around patterns. You have a pattern of how you wake up in the morning, how you make your coffee, what you do when you get into your car … and how you speak to your spouse when you’re upset. These patterns either hurt you or serve you and won’t change unless you address them.
Collaborative couples therapy (CCT) addresses the patterns that are hurting your relationship and work with you to create new habits that are more collaborative.
If you and your partner are very evidence-driven and aren’t ready to explore childhood themes like attachment, this may be the best choice for you.
How to Choose a Couples Counselor: Find Someone that Feels Right
Sometimes finding the right counselor is a research thing, while other times, it’s more luck-based. You could find the right method on the first try, but not like how that professional interacts with you and your partner.
Obviously, we don’t think that will happen – but at Evergreen Relationship Therapy, we want all couples to benefit from counseling, whether it’s within our practice or not. In the end, only you will know the right method to choose a couples counselor, all we can give you are tips on where to start.
To see if we’re a good match, schedule a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!