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How To Get the Most Out of Marriage Counseling

Updated: May 6

Derek and Missy Irvin Discuss How to Get the Most Out of Your Marriage Counseling.

If you are going to get the most out of marriage counseling, you must be willing to do the work outside of your counseling sessions.  True progress and growth are made throughout the week.  Marriage Counseling is not like dropping your car off at the auto mechanic for them to fix it.  Rather it is more like going to see a personal trainer so that you can receive the guidance, tools, and feedback to reach your health goals.

So, accept the idea that you are going to need to really focus on growing in your marriage if it is to improve and therefore, you will want to “lean in” with learning.  Read books that are relevant to the topics that apply to your marriage, listen to podcasts, get in a group focused on marriage and/or emotional growth.  Become a student of your spouse and a student of your own emotional and mental health. Along the way seek feedback.

There is a verse in the Bible where Jesus approaches a man who has been a cripple his whole life.  Jesus asks him a very important question.  He asks him, “do you want to get well?”  On the surface it seems like an odd question to ask a man who is so obviously in need of healing.  But, it is a question that each of us must ask ourselves.  “Do my actions indicate that I want my marriage to get well?”  If you want to get well, you will do the work in between sessions to get the most out of your marriage counseling.

Another way to get the most out of marriage counseling is to come to your sessions knowing what you want to talk about.  Sometimes couples will spend the first 20% of the session figuring out what needs to be discussed in the session.  You will get further faster if you put some thought into what you would like to discuss.

Keep track during the week of relevant things to bring up in counseling. For example, it’s easy to forget what a fight was about. Therefore, it can be helpful to write down what happened that made you first feel the negative emotion. It could be something that was said or not said. It could be a look or even a tone of voice. Isolate the thing that happened and what you felt.

While you want to remember what happened, don’t go overboard with this. You are not building a case. You are not trying to use facts or the story you have created in your mind to justify your emotions. You are simply wanting to remember the thing that happened which first made you feel negative emotion.


Listen to a Story of How God Changed This Marriage!


Another tip for getting the most out of marriage counseling is don’t give each other a gag order. In other words, go to marriage therapy with the mutual understanding that there are no “off the table” topics. Sometimes you will think of something in session that is relevant, and you don’t want to create a system where it is not ok to bring it up if you haven’t first “cleared it” with your partner. If you are going to pay a professional to help you get to a good place, then give them all the information. It’s not fair to your spouse to prohibit them from talking about what needs to be talked about.

Finally, have grace with your therapist. They are going to make mistakes. They may forget something you have told them. They may do something that offends you. If so, tell them about it. Ask for what you need. If you need more homework in between sessions, then ask for it. If you need for them to be more directive, then ask for that and be willing to do the work.




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