Marriage/Couples or Individual Sessions

Marriage/Couples or Individual Sessions

woman reaching back for mans hand

Marriage is interpreted different by diverse cultures. Rearing, culture and nurture play a role in perception. Individuals enter into a union with the idea or perception that, their life will somehow be enhanced by the individual they have chosen to stand with them through the course of their life.

Years ago, the purpose of marriage was to create an economic enterprise. The economic enterprise has morphed into more of an arrangement out of convenience for some couples. In the millennial marriage, some couples have the ability to create a union that is born out of friendship, companionship and closeness. Marriage gives individuals a life partner, friend, and teammate as the couple moves through their life, they experience growth and discovery of themselves.

Couples often relish in the hope that somehow their life will be enhanced because of the sacrifice both individuals made to create a union, of course, the interpretation of “enhanced” is determined by the couple. Marriage to some couples is defined by monogamy coupled with a deep spiritual, emotional and physical connection. A growing number of marriages are becoming non-monogamous or “open” sometimes opening a door to other marital issues. Having an open marriage can become an issue if expectations are not made clear. Many affairs are sometimes a result of an open marriage, bringing issues into a union and creating resentments to some married couples.

When a couple engages in what they perceive as their own personal love, solidarity and loyalty follow. Not all marriages are sustained by the classic formula of marriage, infidelity, individual growth or life changing events can change the dynamic formula of a union.

Why do individuals cheat in a relationship? And is an affair the end of a relationship? Adultery has existed since marriage was created. There is no universal definition for marriage or infidelity and in some ways, marriage can be a paradox. Therapists often receive couples for therapy who engaged in sometimes multiple affairs, affairs are an act of betrayal and an expression of longing and loss, and an attempt to gain back lost parts of who we are as individuals. It’s not that couples are looking for another person, but rather we are looking for another self. 

Healing from a broken marriage takes time to process, some couples are able to turn their relationship into a growth process and develop stronger communication skills as a result. The concept of the fear of loss becomes a reality and rekindles desire and makes way for a new kind of truth in marriage therapy. Many couples feel guilty for hurting their partners, but they don’t feel guilty about the affair, every affair will redefine a relationship, healing begins when the partner acknowledges their affair. Every couple will determine the legacy of what the affair means in the relationship.

Therapists often have the task of helping couples define their relationship by sorting through difficult and emotional feelings, this task usually explores the unconscious Roots of Problems. The therapeutic process includes but is not limited to Narrative therapy, Gottman Theory, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Emotionally Focused Therapy. There is no set time frame for couples therapy. Couples seek therapy to help with communication issues and basically improve or strengthen a difficult relationship. The goal of the therapist is to teach tools to help the couple better communicate and resolve their differences. It is recommended that couples seek 12-16 weeks of marriage counseling which gives time to change patterns of behavior that work against the relationship.

Seeking therapy from a therapist will help couples problem solve, change behavior patterns and work toward mutual solutions. Working with a therapist provides a third party for the sake of mediation and understanding the other persons perspective. Some couples seek therapy to maintain a healthy relationship kind of like a marriage check-up, these visits keep couples in tune with their spouse or significant other. Marriage can sometimes pose challenges in communication and create obstacles to growth, seeking a marriage counselor/therapist can provide a clearer understanding to issues in the marriage that are being overlooked or challenging. Some books to read for marriage counseling are The Seven Principals of Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage by John Gottman PhD. And Julie Schwartz Gottman PhD., and The Marriage Counseling Workbook by Emily Cook PhD. LCMFT.

Remember, change takes time, it happens over time as with anything you put effort into. Results will begin to develop daily and eventually transform your relationship.

Kimberly Bailey, MBA, MS, AMFT

Associate Marriage and Family Therapist

Matthew Bruhin and Associates