Post # 1
hi all..while reading the forums i see that a lot of people recommend couples counseling to each other. i am curious what experiences people have had with it personally and want to learn from you – personal experience is a very good teacher! 🙂 this is partly for my own benefit but i thought it would be useful to learn about it in general.
my sense is that the style and experience really vary to the point that counseling can acutally be very detrimental. that said, counseling can also be very positive.
also, there seems to be a bunch of different camps/styles – it’s tough to wade through all of them – some of them seem very flexible while others seem very rigid. does anyone have exeperience with any of these? or others they’ve tried?
emotion focused therapy?
dialectical behavioral therapy based?
thanks for sharing! 🙂
Post # 3
while Darling Husband and i didn’t do formal counseling, we did a pre-marital program through our church that paired us with a mentor couple as well. each week, the group focused on a topic and then we would follow up with our mentor couple the next week on that topic. my gf and i were talking about the program (we did it at the same time) and we talked about how we still use the tools we learned (finances, communication, etc) and how we would recommend it to anyone else in our position!
sorry i don’t have a technical experience to share, but because of that experience, i wouldn’t hesistate to go back for a refresher!
Post # 5
oh that’s really interesting. i’m not religious but often have heard that people do premarital counseling through their church – this seems like it would be a really smart idea. i am curious if there were any gems that you have to share? for example, on communication?
also, i’ve met couples who go on “marriage retreats” through church. i’ve always thought that this was a really awesome idea as well. perhaps they have some of those in your area!
Post # 7
Bumping again! I am really interested in others’ experiences and advice with couples counseling.
I’ve tried twice. Both were a bit of a diaster. Both practitioners claimed to use a Gottman approach. One was pretty flexible but didn’t seem too experienced. One was not very flexible but more experienced – still not a great fit for us.
Because of logistics, I actually saw one of the providers individually beforehand to talk about the relationship. I have come to the conclusion that this is a bad idea because it sets up an uncomfortable power dynamic.
Thanks for sharing!
Post # 8
I haven’t done couples therapy because I’ve never felt truly in need of it (though I did go to individual therapy for an eating disorder as well as dealing with the depression that comes along with a life long illness) but I have a good amount of knowledge of the psych field and it really interests me…
I was wondering what it was that you didn’t like about the Gottman approach? I don’t have an opinion about it either way, but I was curious how it hindered you? It is a relatively new approach to couples counseling…
Just curious. You don’t have to answer if you don’t like. ^_^
Post # 9
Thanks for your reply! I have read one of Gottman’s books and I just didn’t find it very useful for the problems my partner and I have. I did learn about relationships in general by reading it, though. I find the Gottman approach very pragmatic which makes a lot of logical sense. By using the approach, it just indicated that my partner and I shouldn’t be together because we are very different. It helped me understand a little more about why things weren’t working but it didn’t provide much hope in terms of how to make it work – that is our goal, afterall…
In terms of the therapists, I feel like one just wasn’t very experienced in working with couples. The other happened at a time where we were going through a very difficult time and I feel it made things worse rather than better – as above he just kind of stated that we probably shouldn’t be together. 🙁
Of course, the fact that we had to do couples counseling indicates that there are some big challenges in our relationship. I haven’t really explored counseling much since the last two experiences but I am interested in learning more about it.
I was hoping that since couples counseling is recommended on WeddingBee so often that some people might be able to share some positive experiences.
I have read some books that I have found helpful, please PM if interested in a list.
Post # 10
Like I said, I’ve never done couples therapy, but I’ve found in my individual counseling that sometimes you have to go to a few therapists before you find one you really click with. Other than that, I don’t know what advice to give you. I’ve seen couples counseling help people out before, but I’ve never really questioned them too much about the therapists methods…
I’m personally not a huge fan of religious counseling since most pastors/priests/general men of god don’t have TOO much of an insight on the human psyche and the way the human brain operates. For people who don’t have HUGE problems and are simply learning how to live with each other for the first time and compromise it may be beneficial, but for people on the verge of divorce, I don’t know…sometimes there are underlying issues with each individual person that don’t normally get addressed in religious counseling…that’s all just my personal opinion, though.
Post # 11
@imageeksowhat: definitely, i agree. my partner and i both come from very complicated family pasts. there are some big underlying issues to explore individually. my partner hasn’t been interested in individual work very much. i don’t think it is something that i would push with him at this point as he has been very resistant. i am hopeful that he may get there at some point but i know he has to want to do it himself or it won’t really help. i have tried it various times over the years and i have found it helpful sometimes – you are right it really is therapist/therapy relationship dependent.
neither my partner nor i are religious so those wouldn’t be for us. i do, however, find it interesting and positive that there seems to be a focus on marriage/relationship preparation and then, preservation.
thanks for your input!
recently i have been thinking about this again and would like to learn more.
if anyone else experiences or insights to share, it would be much appreciated 🙂
Post # 12
I have done the pre-cana as well with my hubby. The key to getting any help from that is really to HELP YOURSELF. You can’t just drag yourself to class and wait for it to be over. You have to consciously make it a point to USE all that information you are given on a DAILY basis FOREVER. If you do it for a few days, weeks, etc. chances are you aren’t doing yourselves any favours.
You absolutely MUST keep working at your relationship CONSISTENTLY AND CONSTANTLY. No other way to ‘fix’ it. It’s not even like doing regular maintenance that you do on a vehilce. It’s maintanance CONSISTENTLY. You NEVER stop nurtiring some part or other of yourselves and your relationship TOGETHER. It’s not easy but it then becomes second nature and that creates stronger, fulfilling, and happy marriages.
This is what I have learned from personal experience.
Post # 13
@Sasha2011: Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Boyfriend or Best Friend seems to think that relationships are supposed to be easy – which really makes things difficult. He thinks that he shouldn’t have to work very hard at it nor make compromises and if it were meant to be, it should work out. Ugh!
Post # 14
My Fiance and I took a Pre-Cana class, as well as took the FOCCUS test. Fiance is Catholic, I am Protestant. I’m not going to deny that there was quite a bit of underlying religion focus–there was–but we found a LOT of things that were helpful.
A deacon from FI’s church administered the FOCCUS to us. We met last night to go over our results. We did fairly well, but I noticed something interesting about the scoring. Even if Fiance and I had the same answer, if it didn’t match the “preferred answer”, they still docked us points (at least, that’s what it looked like from glancing over our results–other bees can correct me if I’m wrong!). We talked over a few of the questions with the deacon (his wife was supposed to be there as well, but she had to step out for something).
The Pre-Cana class was really helpful. A married couple led it. We did ours over two Saturdays, five hours each day. They were nice, but cheesy. We had a workbook with a ton of questions. I agree with what @Sasha2011: said. If you don’t go into it with an attitude to help your marriage, you won’t get anything out of it. Even though Fiance and I have been together for nearly 8 years by the time we get married, we answered each and every question. We didn’t want to think we knew what the other thought, and end up being wrong! The financial and in-laws sections were the most helpful, for us. I never felt like I was the “bad guy” as being a non-Catholic going through all of this.
Hope this helps!
Post # 15
So your question is a great one. It seems that a lot of bees are very quick to recommend couples counseling whenever there is an issue – and I think that’s great and very healthy! But rarely have I read success stories from bees and couples who were in counseling, or even just the stories at all.
So we had an initial consultation with our counselors – primarily for the purpose of pre-marriage therapy, but in general I think it will be a healthy thing fore us to do. And while I’m not sure of the type of approach our therapist used/will use, we did find the practice through searches online for licensed marriage and family therapists, which was important to us as they would have the experience necessary. Back to our initial meeting…our counselor walked us through a series of questions about our history, outlook, what we like about each other, what irks us about each other, religion, stress management, anger management, etc. Based upon that, she matched us with the therapist at the practice that best fits with our needs. We meet with her for the first time on Friday, and I will try to follow up with this thread then.
Interested to hear other stories!
Post # 16
@kate02121: That sounds like a really neat program! One thing I’ve noticed with counseling is that if you do not click with your therapist, you might as well not even go. It’s so important to feel comfortable with them, to feel like they are listening and can help.
We did ours as a requirement to have a Catholic deacon speak at our wedding. FI’s parents are also very devout in their faith, and it was important to them that we take these classes. Fiance, at first, didn’t think it was necessary. We almost didn’t do it, because of some ceremony glitches that occurred in March. We ended up scheduling them. We went to the first class hoping it wasn’t going to be a waste of time, but willing to put forth the effort.
Fiance and I discussed this, and we’re so happy we did. There were a lot of things that we already knew, but a few things did come up that made us have a little more in-depth conversation. It wasn’t anything that would break us up at this point in our lives, but if it had gone unnoticed, who knows what would have happened? For example, we had talked a little about finances. We know how much each other makes, we have an idea of how the other spends, but it’s much more than that.
I look at it as preventative medicine. I think we would have been fine if we wouldn’t have discussed these things, but I think it will also help that first year (and beyond) go much more smoothly.