It has been stated repeatedly how keeping love fresh and/or marriage strong takes work. Americans work more on average than the peoples of any other nation in the world. It is natural for people to occasionally feel burned out from their jobs. It is also natural for couples to feel burned out from the work it takes to keep love and peaceful coexistence alive.
Couples counseling carries a stigma just like all other types of counseling. People tend to think it is negative or embarrassing. Others think it is simply useless. Some individuals even feel slighted when asked to participate in couples counseling by a partner or spouse. On the contrary, being asked to go to couples counseling is most often a request to take positive action and help keep a partnership alive.
Couples counselors are trained to hear both sides of a situation and help bridge the gap between differences of options. They are also trained to help identify the needs of individuals and find ways to blend them into a healthy, full-functioning partnership.
Benefits of Couples Counseling
The ultimate goal of going to couples counseling is to resolve issues and improve relationships. Many people also experience a sense of positive personal transformation by attending these types of sessions, even if the relationship ends in the process. These general benefits are part of a successful counseling experience. There are more detailed and experienced benefits of attending couples counseling, including:
- Better communication
- Improved self-awareness
- Managing real-life issues
- Overcoming infidelity
- Financially-related stress
How Couples Therapy Improves Communication
Breakdowns in communication result in misunderstandings and hurt feelings every day. They are not unavoidable, however. They also do not have to do unnecessary or further damage. Taking the step to attend couples counseling shows both sides are ultimately willing to work things out. It also most likely means both partners feel they are not being heard and/or understood by their partner.
Couples counselors teach partners to communicate using “I feel,” or “What I heard was...” statements. This allows a person to express his or her understanding of a comment or situation without placing blame or negativity on the shoulders of the other person in the couple. This is a critical element to achieving loving compassionate communication, and can improve the quality of a relationship by making each partner feel his or her voice is being heard and understood.
Many times we think of ourselves as being flawless. Other times we see ourselves as being too flawed. Some times we do not know what to think of ourselves, which can lead to dark and unhealthy situations. Every person has needs. Couples counseling helps bring those needs to the emotional surface and receive more light. More importantly, self-awareness leads to a grounded sense of self-advocacy. Knowing your needs and knowing how to firmly yet kindly stand up for them is a huge step in improving your relationships. It helps you understand your flaws and also the relational problems for which you are responsible.
Cooperatively Managing Real-Life Issues
Real-life issues are so widely various they could be studied as a graduate-level college course. Still, there are many basic, real-life issues experienced on a daily basis by couples. There are also more extreme issues.
Basic real-life issues involve which parent takes the kids to school and on which days. It can also involve sleeping arrangements due to schedule differences, watering plants and cleaning up after pets. More serious real-life issues can involve visiting relatives, or even the moving in of an in-law. They can also include being mistreated by a partner’s family members, work schedules overriding family priorities and more. Couples counseling can help positively navigate them all.
Two Main Causes of Stress for Couples
As touched on above, couples experience stress for many reasons. Some reasons are more prevalent than others, however, and should not come as a surprise to anyone in a relationship. The two main causes of stress for couples are:
Money matters can be challenging to navigate for couples. We are in modern times but many men still have issues with their female partners earning more money. Money dominance is an issue for homosexual couples as well, however. The lesser breadwinner often feels insecure around his or her partner. The greater breadwinner can feel resentment toward her or his partner for not pulling their respective weight. Wasteful spending habits are also an issue, as is the inability to jointly pay bills regardless of household income.
Infidelity is a challenging obstacle to overcome. Cheating on a partner almost always becomes revealed. Staying in a relationship with hurt feelings and trust-based wounds due to infidelity can be further damaging if not dealt with properly. Couples therapy can help decide if the infidelity was temporary, if it will ever happen again and how to healthily deal with all resulting feelings.
Couples Counseling and COVID-19
Managing a household and/or partnership presents challenges under normal circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only added new challenges but also compounded normal ones in our daily lives. Children are being forced to home school in some areas due to pandemic safety protocols. Children have to be told to wear masks, and why. Multiple millions of people are still unemployed due to businesses closing or otherwise laying off workers they can no longer afford to pay. Some partners with jobs are working from home and families are therefore together 24/7. Couples counseling can help navigate unprecedented issues in partnerships caused by COVID-19-related limitations and stress.
How Much Does Couples Counseling Cost?
Session fees for couples counseling vary based on the provider and system being used. Some licensed counselors work as sole proprietors. Others work as independent contractors for larger firms or organizations. There are also couples counselors under the employ of corporations or hospitals.
The average out-of-pocket cost for a couples counseling sessions is approximately $100 per, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) claims these sessions are 75 percent successful. While some counselors charge more than average, couples hoping to solve their relational issues can be encouraged by the overall success rate. Finally, regular insurance plans do not normally cover couples therapy fees. Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if applicable, might. Check your specific coverage terms to confirm all options.