First of all, It is a good sign that you are considering to go to a marriage counsellor / relationship counsellor, that means that you have acknowledged that there are some challenges in your relationship, though you might still be of the opinion that the fault lies with your partner.
When couples come in for Marital counselling / Marital therapy / Relationship counselling they ask me – how does this work ? How will you be able solve our problems, when we have been trying to for so long and have not been able to ?
I tell them, the counsellor does not solve your problems or provide you with instant solutions. Your counsellor is not going to dole out advices and instant soltions and is not going to whip out a magic wand solving your problems.
It is always better to have the right set of expectations when you start the process of marriage counselling / couple counselling / relationship counselling / marriage therapy. It is good for couples to have a basic understanding of what to expect and how.
Beyond the standard ethical requirements of a professional counsellor – of non judgemental space for clients, confidentiality, genuiness etc, a relationship counsellor would not take sides between the partners and remain unbiased between them.
- Initially it might seem to you that you are only complaining about your partner and vice versa. But this would help the counsellor understand the patterns of interaction that presents in your relationship, how you deal with your disagreements and conflicts and highlight it back to you. In the counselling process you are encouraged to
- Talk to each other politely and respectfully, even on the diffcult topics.
- Take the opportunity to understand each others point of view.
- Learn to empathise with each others situations and emotions.
- Learn to manage your emotions and keep them at a manageable level.
- Understand each other expectations and make an attempt at responding to them reasonably.
- Understand the need for and the importance of healthy boundaries for the relationship.
- Resolve any past issues that are still hurting to the either of you.
- Learn to communicate more effectively, handle conflicts in a healthy manner etc.
And all the above can happen only if you both want to. The counsellor cannot make you (or your partner) do anything without your consent, involvement and want.
The counsellor facilitates the process of understanding each other, being respectful to each other, resolve past issues, learn to deal with conflicts better and learn to communicate more effectively. In the process the counsellor might use any established methodologies, frameworks, techniques, assign homeworks to you etc. But Remember – the counsellor can only facilitate, the effort would need to come from you, the couple. You need to show some patience, some restraint and resilience to move towards the goals that you set for yourselves as a couple and your relationship.
The process enables you to learn new patterns of thought and behavior that is healthy and works for your relationship. The process enables you to find a solution to your problem that works for you. If you both want to find a solution to your challenges, counselling is the journey towards it.