Friendship is the glue that can hold a marriage together. When a couple know each other intimately and are well familiar with each other’s likes, dislikes, personality traits, hopes, and dreams, then they have a solid base from which to tackle conflict, set some goals and begin working on them. It is essential that couples see conflict as an inevitable part of a committed, romantic relationship. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and conflict goes with the territory.
One of the most common questions I have been asked by clients seeking marriage advice is, "Can counselling save my marriage?" The answer to this question is not black and white. In order for it to work in your situation, you must be willing to invest time into finding out if there are any improvements that can be made within your relationship. Timing plays a major role in whether or not these changes will take effect successfully- couples can sometimes wait until their problems become too big before they seek help from someone like me! According to relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help. Think about this statistic for a few minutes. Couples have six years to build up resentment before they begin the important work of learning to resolve differences in effective ways.
The therapist you choose must be a good fit for you both and you should feel comfortable to share your innermost concerns and grievances. You will both know this as soon as you meet the counsellor. Don’t waste time and energy with the wrong counsellor, you already have your own challenges to deal with. The relationship should feel natural, effortless, and positive.
Couple’s counselling is a great way to finally put an end to the fighting. It offers neutral territory so that you and your partner can both share open dialogue without resentment and listen before making assumptions about what the other person is saying. If you are in a situation where your significant other has hurtful habits that can’t be ignored, counselling can provide the opportunity needed for both of you to share an open dialogue. Listen closely to each other's requests or needs. Be realistic with yourselves when it comes down to change because things may not happen as quickly as we want them too, but they will happen if patience is exercised on behalf of both parties involved in the relationship.
In his best-selling book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John M. Gottman, Ph.D., describes “marital masters” as people who are so good at handling conflict that they make marital squabbles look like fun to them and their partners alike! Gottman has published groundbreaking studies demonstrating measurable differences between couples whose marriages were happy and those headed for misery. Based on a series of experiments, Gottman found that the most successful long-term relationships have tender moments and affectionate interaction six times more often than negative interactions. Rather than becoming defensive and hurtful, they sprinkle their disputes with flashes of affection. They have intense interest in one another even when there is disagreement. Mutual respect exists between the two despite any disagreements or conflicts that might arise during a heated discussion.
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