In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we reviewed the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy marriage relationships. For some of you, understanding the dysfunctional characteristic of an unhealthy marriage relationship may have become a call to action to do something different in your relationship.
You have many different options when it comes to seeking help for your marriage. Finding the options that are the best fit for your marriage is the key.
Most couples find it helpful to participate in or use more than just one option. There is one caveat, you have to be willing to do things differently to experience change.
- Marriage self-help books: There have been many books written on how to improve your relationship and they often work well when combined with one of the more hands-on interventions listed below. Here are three of my favorites:
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, PhD
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
- The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller
- Peer-led marriage groups and mentor programs: Many churches offer programs to strengthen marriages. These are usually led by a member and not necessarily professionals. These programs usually follow a structured format. This option is ideal for marriages needing enrichment. However, marriages that are experiencing crisis may need professional intervention in the form of marriage counseling.
- Marriage workshops or retreats: These programs are generally led by professional counselors or therapists. They are normally more intensive than a peer-led program, but they generally do not provide one-on-one counseling with a couple. Therefore, once again, for a couple experiencing crisis, the next option may be a better fit.
- Marriage counseling: Marriage counseling is conducted in a one-on-one setting with a professional counselor or therapist. While each couple may have slightly different goals with regard to therapy, an overarching theme of marriage counseling is to help the couple break through the dysfunctional patterns and reconnect with one another.
- Couple’s Intensive: With intensive counseling, the couple works individually with a therapist in extended sessions in the office, usually over a couple of days. In two days, the couple has the opportunity to do the work that would normally take weeks or months to complete. The extended sessions allow couples to dive deep into the issues that are most important to them without the starting and stopping of a traditional structure of marriage counseling.
Are you getting married soon? Having trouble finding time in both your busy schedules to fit in pre-marriage counseling? Want to prioritize the health of your marriage? We have several counseling options that might be a great fit for you and your partner!
Written By: Jackie Dunagan, LAMFT