One couple came in for counseling because there was infidelity in the marriage. The husband was in a relationship for more than a year, and the wife found out recently. There was lot of crying, accusations, etc, and then the family decided to seek counseling to ease the tension.
The wife wanted to continue in the marriage, there were children. He promised to give up his outside relationship. Here the hurt of the wife had to be addressed, as well as the guilt and regret of the husband. He had to do the major rebuilding of trust, and in the process he would be facing a lot of questions from the wife. Her mind is looking for a plausible reason for this infidelity. Something that will make her feel okay with her decision to continue in the marriage.
Another couple were undergoing the same issue. Here the husband was having multiple affairs. The wife sought counseling to look at the options she had. Both families were against divorce, there were children present. She too felt she would not be able to provide the same style of living for her children if she left her marital home. She did not want to be in the marriage, since he was not repentant. She ultimately decided to have a mid way option.
She decided to stay on in the relationship, without any intimacy. She made it clear to her husband she would not indulge in any intimacy, and she would not request him to change his ways. She is at peace with this decision. It may not appeal to all, but that is her life and her choice.
So when does a couple come in for marital counseling? What issues bring them to a counselor’s clinic?
Wedding can be conducted in a day, two/ three days, or even as a half a day function. But the marriage, or the relationship is supposed to be lifetime, “till death do us apart…” There are bound to be issues that cause a lot of friction in such a lifelong relationship. Some are minor, the couple handle it themselves.
Some issues are guided towards resolution by parents, relatives, friends, etc. But there are certain issues that are best handled with the help of a counselor. Bringing in family and friends can make it a further mess. No family will be purely objective. Some element of subjectivity will step in. Each side will support their child only.
Issues where there is a communication block, abuse, infidelity, some inherent medical/ psychological/ psychiatrist issues etc all require counseling. The quality of life can be improved, people gain insight and this helps them to arrive at workable options. The major blocks can get removed, at least the ways around can be explored.
People are naturally resilient, and want relationships. Because no man is an island. So working from these strength areas can make things easier.
Some couples just require basic ideas on how to improve their relationship. It is not that only marital distress can prompt people to seek marital counseling. When a couple feel they want to improve or know if they are on the right path, they can seek counseling.
One married lady was in a dilemma. Whether to give up her job and join her husband at his new posting. He was transferred to another city. She discussed the pros and cons with me, and arrived at the decision that right then it was her family that was important. She could opt for a job in the new city, relax for sometime and generally enjoy her family. The money was needed, but she was sure she could manage with some creative thinking. Suddenly she felt light and was happy. It took two sessions for her to arrive at this decision.
Most often the family systems bring on conflicts. When each person operates from his/ her family system and insists on following only that, there can be stress. The openness to understand each person’s values, beliefs, message, styles, etc. and so a via media needs to be arrived at, is not really understood.
Sometimes the parents of one spouse take ownership of the relationship. This can cause a lot of stress between the couple, and they also separate due to this. Immature decisions, reactive behavior patterns, abusive language, lack of respect for the person and what comes with the person (family, friends, career, education, opinions, etc) can all be causes. If there is no healthy respect for each other’s space it can lead to a lot of frustrations.
When parenting styles are unhealthy, this can cause marital stress. Unreasonable aspiration and expectations can also lead to conflict. Most couples do not seem to understand the benefits of marital counseling. They keep fighting, not aware of the underlying currents, and feel unhappy. Each blames the other for the state of unhappiness.
Couples may require financial and career counseling and can opt for help from relevant professionals. Just as they need to consult a family physician for any general health issues and a psychiatrist if they are battling mental issues, they need to seek marital or relationship counseling to help them handle their relationships too.
Trust issues, use of abusive language, domination and abuse, fertility issues, etc will all necessitate counseling. Even those who have filed for divorce, can seek counseling as one last chance to save the relationship. In a counseling session, you will be encouraged to listen, give explanation for your behavior, and also to develop an open mind to understand your spouse is entitled to his/ her viewpoints. Counseling also teaches you to recognize conflicts, helps you look for options and then adopt the one that seems promising.
There are couples who have faced infidelity issues together and gone on to have great marriages. The need to change is recognized, to forgive also becomes an option. Sometimes different belief systems clash. Here the couple will be encouraged to be flexible and understand there is no right or wrong. What is appropriate for them needs to be accepted. It need not follow another marriage pattern. The couple can make their own pattern, and they need not explain anything to anyone. Their frequency levels is unique to them.
Marital counseling can help. Opt for it to improve the quality of your relationship.