Of all the relationships that are in your life, none is more important than your marriage. When things are great in a marriage, it makes everything else in life so much better. It is important to prioritize our marriage so that we can make sure that it is healthy, enjoyable, and stable. With everything else in life sometimes it is easy to neglect the things that matter most. This is especially true of people's marriages. Often what was once a thriving relationship, can become a source of bitterness, neglect, and pain.
It is no secret that the majority of marriages will end in divorce. While it can be hard to imagine that fact on a beautiful wedding day, the numbers do not lie. Most couples who once could not imagine ever being separated, are running to the divorce lawyers and seeking a way out of their marriage.
Ironically, most people try and deal with marriage issues on their own. It is uncommon for people experiencing issues to seek out help from their friends, family, or licensed professionals. Most couples get divorced without ever seeing a marriage counselor who may have been able to save their marriage.
Divorce is a costly business. Not only are there financial consequences to getting a divorce, but the emotional trauma and baggage can literally last a lifetime. Seeing a good marriage counselor is not a guarantee that the marriage can be saved. However, couples that seek out professional help are much more likely to be able to save the marriage. At the very least they will be able to part ways much better, than trying to figure out how to end the marriage on their own.
A marriage counselor can help at any stage of a marriage. Though most seek out the help of a professional when things get really bad. It can be hard to find a good marriage counselor at any stage of the relationship, so it is important to go into the search process with a little bit of guidance.
Read on below for some tips and tricks to finding the best counselor for you.
Start out by going online and researching some counselors. This can seem overwhelming at first, but there are ways to narrow down your choices. First, you need to consider whether you would like to have your sessions online or in person.
In-person is better for some because they can get that face to face connecting that is impossible online. Technology is still a long way off from being able to fully replace getting to sit in the same room from a person. In some ways that face-to-face connection may be vital in getting the most out of your marriage counseling sessions.
The advantage of going online is that you can meet with anyone in the world. There may be some type of specialist that you have a deep connection with, or who specializes in the exact set of issues faced by you and your spouse. With technology you can meet with someone on the other side of the country, or on the other side of the world.
What type of credentials are you looking for? Are you looking for someone who is also a therapist, or for someone who specializes in just marriages? Many people who are offering marriage counseling, add that to their list of services but not as a specialty.
If you are looking for a therapist that you can have a relationship with even after the marriage issues have been dealt with then a general practitioner could be better. However, it is important to know that there are people out there who deal specifically with marriage issues, and not general counseling. Sometimes that means they have Ph.D.’s, but often it means they have other credentials that are specific to dealing with marriages.
So knowing what type of credentials you would like to see is an additional way of narrowing your search. If they only have their Ph.D., but they do not have a certificate specializing in some type of couple counseling, then you may need to look for someone else.
Not everyone will be comfortable with this, but chances are someone you know has used a marriage counselor before that has helped them. Referrals are the best way to find a great counselor. Not everyone feels comfortable though in letting others know that there are troubles in their marriage. However, if you have a great social network this can easily be the best pathway to finding an excellent counselor.
Chances are that you already know what some of your major issues are in your marriage. Some of the common things that couples fight about and ultimately divorce over are:
• Extended family
While these are just a sampling of issues that can cause serious conflict in a marriage, they have been reason enough for many marriages to fall off the rails and end tragically in divorce.
So make a list of the problems that the two of you have, and chances are there is someone who specializes in that. Some counselors specialize in finances, addiction, sex, and anything else that you can think of that is causing problems in your marriage. Look for counselors who have a track record of specializing in issues that mean the most to you.
Once you have your shortlist of people who you are considering, take an afternoon and give them all a call. This is a great way to instantly cross some people off of your list. For instance, if you cannot reach them or they do not call you back in a reasonable amount of time, then they are most likely not the right counselor for you.
If they are hard to reach, then they will not be a good choice. Sometimes counselors are hard to reach because they are busy, and that means they may be too busy to take on new clients. It could also mean that they overbook, are new to the profession, or are unorganized. Whatever the reason you are going to want to meet with a counselor that has time to make you and your spouse a priority.
Also, once you get them on the phone, ask yourself how did the conversation go? Was is a pleasant conversation? Did you enjoy talking to them? Did they answer all of your questions? Were there any personality quirks?
Typically you should trust your instincts. If you did not enjoy talking to them for whatever reason, then cross them off your list. Your marriage counselor needs to be able to put you and your spouse at ease and be pleasant to talk to. Do not minimize minor issues, because over time those small things can become problematic.
It is easier to be picky before you choose a counselor, then firing a counselor that you have already begun to see. So trust your gut, and go with a counselor that you enjoy talking to.
Do not minimize personality. You need to be able to get along with your counselor, especially a marriage counselor. They are going to be helping you with some of the most intimate parts of your life, and you are going to need to be able to get along with them.
A good therapist understands this and knows that this is a subjective issue and will not take offense if you end up choosing someone else. So make sure you like their personality and there is some personal chemistry between you and your counselor. Cross off the list counselors that you do not get along with well.
It is also important to make sure that you and your marriage counselor align in your spiritual beliefs or lack of belief. Many people do not think about this when they are interviewing prospective counselors, but this is so important.
Most people’s beliefs are very important to them, and your marriage counselor must understand where you are coming from spiritually. Even if you are not religious it may be better for you to be counseled by someone who is also not religious.
A good counselor should be able to help you and your spouse define your goals for the counseling sessions. Asking them on the phone how they go about helping couples define these goals is a great way to ascertain whether or not they will be a good fit.
Asking for examples of how they have helped couples define their goals before is a great way to see if they will be a good fit for your marriage and for your needs.
What does the counselor prioritize?
Counselors like people are all different and unique. However, most counselors fall into one of two broad categories. They either prioritize the marriage above everything, or they prioritize the individual. They tend to prioritize commitment to the marriage or empowering the individuals in the marriage.
So a counselor that values commitment to the marriage will try and do everything possible before suggesting the ending of the marriage. While a counselor that values the individuals in the marriage more, focus more on the individuals and dealing with the people in the marriage versus the marriage itself.
Asking your prospective counselor when should marriage be ended, is a great way to gauge where they are on this spectrum. If your marriage is not in serious trouble then leaning more in the empowerment direction might actually be better. However, if your marriage is in serious jeopardy then a counselor who is committed to keeping the marriage whole above all things would be an absolute necessity.
It is also important to know how much each session costs, and whether or not they take your insurance. Many great marriage counselors are unfortunately not usually covered by insurance. This is an unfortunate reality, but you will need to make sure you can afford the services of the counselor.
So asking them (or their administrator) billing questions before you even schedule your first visit is very important. So make sure you have a good understanding of all the fees involved, and whether or not your insurance will cover any of these costs.
Most marriage counselors know that they are not typically covered by people’s insurance plans and strive to make their services affordable. So chances are high that you will find someone who you are excited to work with, that you can also afford.
At this point you should have a good idea of which counselor that you like, has the same goals as you, and that you can afford. Now is a great time to get your spouse involved if you have not already.
Schedule an initial sit down to meet and greet your prospective counselor. These are typically no cost shorter sessions, or at a significantly reduced fee. Stay away from counselors who will attempt to charge full price for an initial sit down meeting.
At this point, you should have a really good idea of who you are going to be working with. At the very least you should have narrowed it down to your top three marriage counselors. After you meet with them consult with your spouse and compare notes.
Do not try and minimize their concerns. It is so important that both of you feel good about whoever the two of you choose. So make sure everyone feels good about who you are choosing to be your marriage counselor.
At the end of the day, your marriage is your marriage and you need to take responsibility for it. Be ready and open to change, and to listen to the concerns of your spouse. Marriage counseling is great at any stage of life, and it can help you and your spouse connect in deeper ways. If you are considering marriage counseling for any reason, then following the above guidelines to choose the right counselor will put you on a great path to a more loving, long-lasting, and committed marriage.