Marriage Counseling in San Antonio
Research on the impact of Covid pandemic on marriages is just now being published and summarized in the Journal of Social & Personal Relationships is the following data:
- 29% of marriages improved during Covid
- 29% of relationships got worse
- 30% of relationships remained status quo
- 8% were mixed
- 4% did not respond
The research and data reflect themes centered on communication, togetherness, space, shared responsibilities, support networks, and quality time. In sum, the pandemic largely magnified marriage problems that were pre-existing in a couple’s relationship. Having said this, people also took proactive steps to save their marriage which included honest communication, rediscovering individual interests, not starting conversations with blame, validating your partner, and seeing a marriage counselor – so if you’re reading this, you’ve come to the right place. The prospect of Marriage Counseling can be an anxiety provoking experience however knowing what to expect and understanding how it works may remove some of the mystery and help you to make the decision on if marriage counseling is for you.
What is Marriage Counseling?
Marriage counseling, also referred to as couples therapy, helps couples — married or not and regardless of sexual orientation — figure out and resolve conflicts in the effort to improve their relationship. All marriages evolve over time and every relationship has its ups and downs along with agreements and disagreements. In marriage counseling couples develop the tools and skill set to communicate better, negotiate and accept differences, problem solve and even disagree in a healthier way. Through marriage counseling, you can make thoughtful decisions about rebuilding and strengthening your relationship or going your separate ways.
Most marriages and partnerships are far from perfect. Each individual brings his or her own values, ideas, opinions and personal history into the relationship, and they don’t always fit with their partner’s. However differences don’t have to equate to or lead to conflict. Quite the opposite is true and differences can be complementary — as in, “opposites attract”. These differences in people can also be helpful in understanding, respecting, and accepting opposing views and cultures.
But over time relationships can be tested and those differences or habits previously received as attractive or endearing, after time together, may wear down on your nerves. Or, specific problems might emerge, such as disintegration of communication, an extramarital affair or lack of sexual attraction, that trigger distance and trouble in a relationship.
Topics Explored in Marriage Counseling
No matter the origin of the issues, problems in a relationship can create undue stress, tension, anxiety, and other unhealthy feelings and or concerns. Relationship troubles don’t just go away on their own and if left to fester, a bad relationship can worsen eventually leading to physical or psychological problems, such as abuse and or depression. A troubled relationship can also spill over into your professional life and create problems at work, along with affecting other family members and friends as people feel obligated to take sides. Marriage counseling provides a safe and neutral space for a couple to vent, decompress, listen, understand where things are – and voice where they want things to be.
Here are the most common issues marriage counseling can helpful unpacking:
- Substance abuse
- Physical or mental conditions
- Same-sex relationship issues
- Cultural clashes
- Blended families
- Communication problems
- Sexual difficulties
- Conflicts about child rearing
- Changing roles, such as retirement
Learned Skills & Techniques in Marriage Counseling
- Identifying the origins of distress– frequently the things you’re arguing about is a result of an underlying issue that has not yet been communicated or resolved.
- Teaching specific intimacy skills to improve connection and closeness – through learning about each other’s love language, and homework assignments such as “date nights” are used in order to support communication, encourage fun and build on common interests in the relationship.
- Learning how to swiftly repair conflicts– when a conflict arises it is important to know what both partners can do to swiftly resolve it so it doesn’t escalate further or build resentment.
- Learning ways to be supportive of your partner’s goals and dreams – it is essential that your relationship reflects a reciprocally supportive and positive environment.
- Resolving past events in the relationship that may be affecting your present– painful experiences of yesterday (left unresolved) can often influence the way we function and feel within the relationship today. Uncovering and resolving these past hurts helps us start fresh, offers a clean slate and enables us to be more open and available for connection.
- Looking at previous experiences– helping the couple understand how childhood events and experiences, old habits and defense patterns may be interfering with the relationship in the present. By briefly exploring each partner’s past empathy is created and each partner gains insight into their partner’s current behavior.
- Learning about anger management– it is essential to avoid future escalation of conflicts and by understanding when you are approaching your “boiling” point and how to calm yourself down, effectively avoiding hurtful arguments.
How Does Marriage Counseling Work?
Marriage counseling typically brings couples together for a joint therapy session. A Rhapsody counselor helps you understand and pinpoint the origins of your conflicts in effort to resolve them. In marriage counseling you will learn skills that include discussing differences rationally, communicating openly, and problem-solving together.
Sharing your personal thoughts and concerns with a therapist in marriage counseling may not be easy and there can be some tense moments. Know that your therapist will act as an impartial 3rd party mediator or referee (so to speak) and be helpful as you cope with the emotions and turmoil that are likely to surface in the session. You may find your relationship bettering after a handful of marriage counseling sessions – or on the other hand, you may ultimately feel your differences are irreconcilable and it’s best to end your relationship.
If your partner chooses to not participate in marriage counseling you can go by yourself. It will present more challenges in patching up a difficult relationship when only one partner is open to marriage counseling. But the therapy will still benefit the person participating in learning more about your behavior in the relationship.
The Importance of Communication in Marriage Counseling
In all marriages both partners want to be heard and accepted. Unfortunately most couples wind up engaging in unproductive communication patterns that result in feeling frustrated and disconnected. Marriage counseling allows couples to discuss their issues in a safe environment without reverting back to the old negative patterns of interacting. At Rhapsody our therapists help couples discover how those old negative patterns happen and how the couple can adjust their communication to stay on a productive track. The goal is to have a different outcome in the dialog than the familiar dead end frustration point a couple arrives at in their home.
Having effective communication requires 3 important qualities; respect, openness and persistence. Good communication is harder than most want to believe, effective negotiation is even more difficult. In marriage counseling a couple’s vision surfaces from an exchange of reflection and inquiry.
For a couple’s vision to emerge both participants must speak from the heart about what truly matters to each of them. No matter how others treat us we’re all responsible for how we express ourselves. Communication is the toughest obstacle to overcome in marriage counseling. Achieving effective communication requires you:
- pay attention to managing emotions of fury, such as intense anger
- pay attention to your communication style – whining, being vague, blaming, etc.
- know what you aim to accomplish from your partner during the discussion
- know what the problem suggest and symbolizes to you
- know your desired outcome in the discussion
- understand your partner’s top concerns
Premarital Counseling in San Antonio
The objective of premarital counseling is to help couples establish a healthy and strong relationship, thereby giving them a better chance of enjoying a stable as well as satisfying marriage. Counseling sessions include discussions on numerous topics, including the following:
- Intimacy, affection and sex
- Communication skills
- Finances and money management
- Expectations, beliefs and values
- Children and parenting
- Decision making and conflict resolution
- Dealing with anger and emotions
- Roles in marriage
Premarital counseling is effective for partners in enhancing their ability to communicate and form realistic expectations of each other, along with developing conflict-resolution skills.
When expectations and differences are discussed prior to marriage, the couple can establish ways to understand as well as support one another in the marriage. Early intervention like this is beneficial because the risk of divorce is generally greatest in those early years of marriage.
Here’s how premarital counseling if helpful to couples:
- You receive outside professional guidance – It’s beneficial to have a licensed marriage and family therapist’s wisdom, experience and trained perspective that gives you an unbiased view on your relationship, and how to make strong.
- You improve communication skills – Effective communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship.
- You set practical expectations – Getting on the same page and discussing expectations while being flexible is the attitude that leads to teamwork and resolution.
- You receive advice on financial planning – One of the top reasons why marriages fail are money issues. Counseling probes into the meaning of money each partner has and guides the couple to learn financial skills even before they face the issues in real life.
- You learn each other’s main triggers – Identifying each other’s “buttons that can be pushed” (stressors and sensitivities) is an important step toward avoiding and overcoming the personal triggers.
- You spot and recognize potential conflicts – No 2 people are completely the same regarding life in general. It is important to identify any potential significant conflicts before they even arise.
- You learn de-escalation skills and tactics – Conflicting situations are the toughest things you’ll face in marriage and it is important to learn skills and strategies to limit and reverse this process.
- You create a shared vision – A successful marriage requires a shared vision, a conscious and deliberate path to guide your relationship together towards your destination.
Commonly couples get so tangled up in wedding planning, that they fail to address issues that would serve as a foundation of their marriage down the line. For most couples, premarital counseling is an affirming and bonding experience that strengthens their commitment to marry.
Next Steps for Marriage Counseling in San Antonio
Marriage counseling helps couples move from a conflict to a more emotionally connected situation where needs are being met and problems collaboratively and constructively solved. Even if the relationship is on solid footing, marriage counseling can be beneficial in improving intimacy and connection while creating a more satisfying relationship in general. Marriage counseling enables couples to develop essential relationship traits and skills, such as trust, patience, forgiveness, communication, selflessness and stress management. Marriage counseling sessions at Rhapsody will focus on the specific issues that brought you to us. Together we will collaborate from a place of mutual trust to identify the underlying problem beneath the issues and find the best way to approach resolving the issues.
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Free Discovery Call to Talk with a Counselor
Take the first step in your wellness journey and book a free 10-20 minute discovery call with a Counselor. The Counselor will start off the call with a few questions to get to know you better, so they can make sure they’re qualified to meet your needs. This includes questions about why you’re considering counseling, how you’ve been feeling over the past few weeks, and your goals for counseling.
If possible, take a few minutes before the call to reflect on these topics, so you can have a clearer sense of your goals for counseling. But don’t worry, if you can’t verbalize the answer to any questions, our counselors know how to guide your thinking so you can figure out what to say and the Counselor will welcome you to ask questions about counseling and Rhapsody.