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Seeking Marriage Counseling

It's interesting how many people have a very stereotypical idea about marriage counseling, and see it as some sort of sign that their marriage is failing or that they are on the brink of divorce. Of course some people have a very poor view of counseling of any type, thinking that people should be able to figure out and solve their own problems or are embarrassed to talk about private issues with a third party or stranger. But when should a couple seek out marriage counseling, and how can you view it as a necessary tool for your marriage's survival rather than an embarrassment or waste of time?

First off, think of marriage counseling as like career counseling, or like going to school to learn a new skill. Virtually anyone can get a marriage license but few people are actually taught how to be married, and this is what marriage counseling can be viewed as - a class on how to improve your skills to be married. Also, sometimes it's difficult to understand your spouse's problems or figure out how to communicate with each other as the years go by. There may be problems in the marriage that you just don't know how to address by yourselves. Sometimes that counselor can shed some new light on a problem or suggest ways of thinking about things or viewing things that make a tremendous amount of difference. He or she can also explain how your own actions might be interpreted by your spouse, something that's difficult for many to do. In this way, marriage counseling is not like being berated or chastised by anyone, or being told what you need to do different but is just like having a trusted friend that can help you understand some things.

Some couples go to marriage counseling on a regular basis just to help them improve their communication or to make sure that there are not any underlying problems they should address before they become major issues, or to just get some general advice. Many times this type of marriage counseling is called a couple's retreat or just a seminar, and may be conducted with other couples as well. Everyone just talks a little bit about themselves and their marriages, and a counselor might give some general advice that's applicable to everyone. He or she might just talk about certain reminders that are important for any marriage, such as spending time alone together, continuing to be flirtatious and romantic even after many years together, and keeping the lines of communication open. Many enjoy this type of marriage counseling because they can then go home and decide for themselves how to best apply these tips, and don't feel as if they've had their private lives aired in front of others. They often report feeling some renewed energy and a spark in their relationship as they come away from these types of marriage counseling sessions with a stronger commitment and bond with one another.

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