Marriage Counseling: Does It Work & How Does It Work
John Gottman, a renowned couples researcher & psychotherapist found that observing couples for the first 15 minutes can predict whether they would stay together or not. When other researchers tested this claim, they found it to be 91% accurate!
What does this tell us about relationships?
You get accustomed to the way you dance with your partner, which isn’t fun by the way-
He steps on your foot.
You pivot your arm to his.
You attempt to move together but only to swivel further apart.
Dancing out of tune.
It’s no surprise that one partner or both decides to leave the dance floor hoping that another dance partner can “be the one,” or
According to Philip N. Cohen of the University of Maryland, divorce rate in the U.S. from 2008 to 2016 has dropped a significant 18%. This is 3.2 per 1,000 people.
While divorce is down, people opting to marry is also down.
Pew Research Center states that : “Half of Americans ages 18 and older who were married in 2017 is 18% lower than it used to be. Pew postulates that this is because Americans are staying single longer.
Is this because people have lost their trust in the sanctity of marriage?
Are we being more partner selective? And,
Are Women more proactive in creating economic independence prior to marriage?
We don’t have enough information but we do know that stats tells us that cohabitating partners has increased 29% since 2007 (Pew Research).
Is this good?
According to Washington Post-
In recent years, the General Social Survey, a long-running nationally representative survey of American adults asked respondents relationship satisfaction questions.
The responses show a sort of relationship-happiness gradient, with married people reporting the most overall happiness, the cohabitating group reporting somewhat less happiness, and singletons who’ve never married or lived with someone being the least satisfied of all.
You’re probably asking yourself, so I should be the happiest according to this survey?
In fact, I don’t know my partner as well as I used to.
I come home to come home.
I reset each day, crossing my fingers that today will be different, &
one thing sets me off & I realize today was just like yesterday.
Try these 50 Love Map Questions for Filipino/x Couples aim to rebuild couples friendship, adopted from the research of Gottman Institute.
CAN MARRIAGE COUNSELING|COACHING HELP?
If you’re looking for someone to referee arguments between you & your partner or scold your aggressive partner like a shamed puppy,
Couples counseling cannot help.
But if you want to learn to dance with your partner again by offering curiosity on how your moves and his steps are causing you both this pain,
Marriage counseling can help.
Marriage Therapists offer different approaches in choreographing this dance between you and your partner and finding a good-fit Marriage Counselor is crucial.
In my practice, I help clients get attuned with their own needs and their partner’s so that each can slowly un-robe their defenses. We develop defenses as a way to cope from being harmed, ridiculed, threatened or hurt.
It makes sense that you protect yourself from others, including your partner, especially when you view him as the cause of your hurt.
Indeed, living in an all-steel armor may protect you from further emotional strain but imagine how much energy you consume watching every corner of your eye for potential danger.
Is he moving left, right? Is he behind me? What does he mean now?
The need for closeness becomes the enemy to watch.
In Marriage Counseling| Coaching, you and your partner will work on re-experiencing each other.
This is not easy work but it’s worth every session.
Peeling away a piece of your steel armor allows you to move ever so slightly to your next dance move…closer to your partner.
Interested in rebuilding back the friendship in your marriage? Try these research-based, 50 Love Map Questions.
WHAT TO EXPECT
In the first two sessions, we are getting to know each other so we all can get a clear sense on what a satisfactory relationship looks like for you & your partner.
How do you envision yourself dancing on the dancefloor?
When you visit your doctor because of a persistent stomachache, the doc will check you physically (feel your tummy, maybe listen to your heartbeat..etc), asks questions & possibly run some tests to make sure that he’s getting the big picture.
It’s rather a shame for your doc to prescribe cold relief for your stomach problems!
First session is also the time to review paperwork, office policies & ask questions regarding the therapist-couple relationship. Of course, you can ask these on an on-going basis.
Many couples need a space to feel heard & their stories aired out to be experienced by a witness-the therapist. This is a good time.
NEXT SESSIONS & WHAT TO EXPECT
In Marriage Counseling| Coaching, it’s important to me as a therapist to sense the pain of each person.
It’s easy to give someone a manual on how-to-dance-with-your-partner but that makes marriage coaching|therapy ineffective.
When couples are stuck on the dance floor, an effective therapist don’t just point her fingers as to what needs to happen-
She gets on the dance floor.
She choreograph moves and steps.
Sometimes, she has each person practice a dance step in their own space.
Sometimes, she has the partner move closer to each other and always,
she is gearing to allow the partners to move to a whole new way of dancing.
Sweating on the dancefloor with the couples and slowly pulling away,
Trusting the process as couples learn to trust each other again.
It’s nothing short of beautiful to see this magnificent dance come to play.
A total joy for a couples therapist to watch!
I expect clients to be open, there is no better way to learn to dance but to get on the dance floor.
This is called corrective experience in therapist language and entails-
- Getting to know your own emotions, what you do with them and the same with your partner.
- What happens before you step on her toes and when you get tangled up in a fiasco of emotional danger signs?
- How can you and your partner feel safe again?
This type of therapy with couples called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is well-researched have found that 70-75% of couples undergoing EFT successfully move from distress to recovery, and approximately 90% show significant improvements.
As a couples therapist, I typically see clients for 15-20 sessions on an average. This is considered short-term in counseling world & although you’re thinking-that seems long,
Living one more year in an unsatisfactory relationship that robs your zest for life is way more costly and time consuming than you can imagine.
Here’s a video on what EFT is about in a nutshell-
HOW TO FIND A THERAPIST
Psychology Today has the most robust directory when in search of a therapist. You may use this directory & start making a top 3 list of your prospective couples therapist.
I encourage you to asks for a complimentary consult, most therapists will be happy to accommodate you.
During the complimentary session, prepare questions to ask. Here are some to guide you:
- How do you work with couples?
- What can we expect in sessions and how long are they?
- How long do you typically see couples before seeing any change(s) in their relationships?
- How much do you charge?
- What is your experience and training in Marriage Counseling?
Remember that as your trying to find a good-fit therapist, your therapist (or at least, I do) also want to ensure that the couple is a good-fit for them.
I only take clients and couple in my practice who I know I can ethically support and be an effective therapist.
If you’re interested in seeing me as a couples therapist, you can book a complimentary session here.
Marriage counseling is finding your rhythm back so you can find you and your partner on the same dance floor, with new found moves.
We all create a shield to protect us from further insult and injuries, this shield is ever-prominent in relationships.
You are with someone but not with them.
Our need to connect with others is a mammalian instinct. When the hurt comes from the same source from whom we desperately need connection from.
We fight or we stay in our armor,
Convinced that we never need connection in the first place.
Marriage counseling|coaching is a brave first step to peeling this armor to get you back limber and flexible to the tune of a deeply connected relationship.
You deserve it.
If you want to see if we’re a good fit, schedule a complimentary session with me.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 12 years. She has frequented at least 400 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. Check out her Free Webinar Speak the Pinoy Love Language here.
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