In order to assist couples in enhancing their relationship while addressing problems, professionals examine specific areas to determine the best approach. Marriage counseling questions usually start this process so that a better understanding of a couple’s relationship can be learned. Sessions are generally conducted by a licensed social worker, mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist. Some people will also see someone at their church or temple to receive guidance from a spiritual angle.
For most couples the counseling session is a last resort and problems have already gotten out of control. It is not unusual for a husband or wife to seek the advice of a counselor without the others knowledge. However, it is best if both parties are willing to get professional help. I have found that if one person comes individually initially and then brings in their spouse, the spouse is defensive and feels that their is an alliance with the initial client.
Understanding what might typically be asked of a couple will alleviate any undue stress when beginning sessions. The majority of therapists and counselors will base their marriage counseling questions on issues, feelings, willingness to change and compromise, and priorities. At times, a marriage counseling questionnaire is filled out in advance and then discussed during a session.
First, the issues need to be determined. What are the most problematic areas of the relationship? Most often finances, child rearing, career issues, intimacy, communication and the other spouses family cause disputes within a marriage. But issues of addiction, infidelity and illness are not uncommon. It is vital to therapy that specific issues be defined before they can be addressed or solved. There could be years of fighting over many issues within a marriage and the couple doesn’t have a clue as to what the main issue is.
Once issues have been determined, marriage counseling questions usually involve finding out what is most important to the husband and wife. Many times a couple will disagree as to what is important, but the therapist can help narrow down and prioritize their concerns. Often these issues have been present in earlier marriages or in their family of origin so this is helpful input for the therapist.
Next, exploring feelings of each issue is necessary for each spouse to understand the other’s point of view. At times it becomes a revelation for one or both partners, as they had not realized how a situation was making the other feel. Simply acknowledging feelings will help them learn respect and help to find a solution.
Being able to see how the other person sees is very important. Clients learn how to communicate without attacking each other but instead by saying things first as, “I feel that” rather than “You should xyz”.
One the most difficult marriage counseling questions inquires of the willingness to change or compromise by each spouse. Attitude is a big determinant of a solutions success. If a partner does not see a need for his or her change, then resentment will build and no progress is made. Both partners have to be willing to make a compromise or sacrifice in order for the other to be happy. Someone has to make a move to change a pattern and I encourage people to just do it first and not be in a deadlock around who is going to do what when. When it starts to get into a contest of people saying they won’t change because the other person hasn’t done anything it leads to little advancement. The best spirit is to make changes because it will improve things, even if the other person won’t do much. Either way, you’ll feel better because you’ve made an effort.
The best moment is when there is an insight. For instance, I saw a couple a few years ago and the wife realized during a session that she never forgave her dad for cheating on them as a kid and that carried into her present relationship (despite fact he was faithful). I also recently saw a couple have a good ah-ha moment when they realized that they each were repeating their own mothers’ criticisms of their spouse to each other. Projection is real and can really create problems.
For any counseling to work it must be clear that sometimes it takes more than one try to get things right. Habits are hard to change. Remembering that you don’t want your life to stay the same is a big motivator. Finger pointing is not useful. If you own your own issues, this helps the other person to be honest as well. Sessions also work well when humor is inserted and that cuts through some of the heavy feelings. Role playing is helpful and reversing identities in order to see how the spouse feels. The movie, “Freaky Friday” was so popular because it showed how a mother and daughter were able to see each other’s point of view after being so stuck in conflict.Tbey each learned compassion and really saw how the other experiences things.