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Many times marriage counseling is seen as a last ditch effort. I often hear things such as, “this is the last chance,” “if this doesn’t work it is over.” Regularly the presenting problem for couples is quite extreme.

While these are appropriate times for marriage counseling, they are not the only times marriage counseling is important. Here is a list of times that marriage counseling can be helpful, in no particular order.

1. Pre-marriage. Okay, so this is technically not marriage counseling but participating in some type of premarital counseling sets a couple up for success in areas where they may be set up for failure. In premarriage counseling the goal is not to discover a reason not to be married, but to recognize hurdles that could develop into more difficult problems. We have all heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

2. Communication breakdowns. Marriage counseling is an opportunity to learn and sharpen communication skills. A couple does not have to be in the depths, just care enough about knowing their spouse more intimately to enter therapy for this reason.

3. Changing of life stage. Utilizing a trained marriage counselor is not something that comes to mind for many when undergoing a major life change. This could be growing your family, retirement, empty nesting. Having a place to plan out your next step with your spouse can be valuable.

4. In-laws. Early in the marriage it is not only a new spouse to learn but an entirely new family. Being in counseling with your spouse in navigating the best approach to these relationships can be helpful.

All the counselors at Christian Counseling Center have training and experience to help guide couples through all of these reasons for entering therapy.

Depression can be more prevalent in the winter time. Dark dreary days can hinder our moods. There are some simple things to be done in order to handle feelings of depression. In no particular order here are a few simple tips in handling feelings for depression.Depression

1. Turn to trusted friends and relatives. Sharing what you are going through is helpful because you do not feel like you are carrying the load on your own.

2. Challenge negative thinking. Think outside yourself, are these thoughts rational? Try to adopt the positive thinking of those in your life who tend to see the bright side.

3. Take care of yourself. Live a healthy lifestyle, get the appropriate amount of sleep, eat in a healthy way and get exercise.

4. Be open to professional help. Sometimes we just need someone to walk with us for a little while. This does not mean we are any less of a person.

We have plenty of training and experience in treating those dealing with depressive thoughts and feelings at Christian Counseling Center. We are able to provide in depth help for depression. If you need someone to support you for a time feel free to call us (270) 442-5738.

4) Explore Spiritual Beliefs: For some this is not a big issue – but for others a serious one. Differing spiritual beliefs are not a problem as long as it’s been discussed and there is an understanding of how they will function in the marriage with regards to practice, beliefs, children, etc.

5. Identify any Problematic Family of Origin Issues: We learn so much of how to “be” from our parents, primary caregivers and other early influences. If one of the partners experienced a high conflict or unloving household, it can be helpful to explore that in regards to how it might play out in the marriage. Couples who have an understanding of the existence of any problematic conditioning around how relationships work are usually better at disrupting repetition of these learned behaviors.

6. Develop Personal, Couple and Family Goals: It amazes me how many married couples have never discussed their relationship goals – let alone personal or family. I honestly think it just doesn’t cross their minds! This is a long term investment together – why not put your heads together and look at how you’d like the future to look? Where do you want to be in five years? Approximately when would you like to have children? How many children? There are many areas that can be explored and it can be a fun exercise to do together.

3) Learn Conflict Resolution Skills: Nobody wants to think that they’ll have conflict in their marriage. The reality is that “conflict” can range from disagreements about who will take out the trash to emotionally charged arguments about serious issues – and this will probably be part of a couple’s story at one time or another. There are ways to effectively de-escalate conflict that are highly effective and can decrease the time spent engaged in the argument. John Gottman’s (www.gottman.com) research has shown that couples who can do this well are less likely to divorce in the end.

2. Discuss Role Expectations: It’s incredibly common for married couples to never really have discussed who will be doing what in the marriage. This can apply to job, finances, chores, sexual intimacy and more. Having an open and honest discussion about what each of you expect from the other in a variety of areas leads to fewer surprises and upsets down the line.

1. Strengthen Communication Skills: Being able to effectively listen, truly hear and validate the other’s position is a skill that isn’t necessarily a “given” for many people. Couples that really communicate effectively can discuss and resolve issues when they arise more effectively. You can tune up your talking and listening skills. This is one of the most important aspects of emotional safety between couples.

“A stitch in time saves nine.” This well-known quote rings true for many marriages. If couples are able to prepare themselves for the blissful challenge that is marriage they may be able to save themselves for many difficult times in the future.

Lisa Kift, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist has listed six great reasons for premarital counseling. The reasons are: strengthen communication skills; discuss role expectations; learn conflict resolution skills; explore spiritual beliefs; identify problematic family of origin issues; develop personal, couple and family goals.

These six reasons will be discussed in more detail in following posts.

 

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