Considerations for couples counselling Every couple faces moments when communication falters, trust wavers, and intimacy feels impossible. In my view, it’s during these times that seeking professional help becomes a beacon of hope. 

Laina Makuzha-LOVE by DESIGN

Here’s hoping you had a peaceful, restful Independence Day commemoration. 

This week I chose to touch on setting your relationship free from unresolved conflict, whatever that “elephant in the room” might be in your relationship. 

You see, when love faces obstacles, some of these can grow from an anthill to a mountain unnecessarily due to mishandling and the again, sometimes these challenges or “mountains” are just beyond the couple’s control. 

Enter couples counselling: Seeking professional guidance can sometimes be the glue that helps keep sanity intact and put things in perspective in that relationship. However, it may not be for everyone. 

Some couples have the emotional stamina to deal with issues till they are resolved. 

However, in the intricate maze of love, couples often encounter hurdles — misunderstandings, disagreements, and emotional storms, often with good reason to just throw in the towel. 

These challenges can strain even the strongest bonds. But here’s the kicker, as I’ve often mentioned in this column — struggling in itself is normal. 

Every couple faces moments when communication falters, trust wavers, and intimacy feels impossible. In my view, it’s during these times that seeking professional help becomes a beacon of hope. 

The path to healing: Though many may have reservations, couples generally should never feel ashamed to consider professional intervention. 

In fact, I see it as a sign of strength and willingness to breathe new life to something that is worth saving, worth fighting for. 

Rather than forcing each other into counselling though, the best approach is an open conversation. Discuss your needs, fears, and hopes and the type of help you might need. 

Are you both willing to put in the effort to make it work? 

If so, seeking the guidance of a skilled therapist or respected pastor, can illuminate the path toward healing and renewed connection. 

Remember, vulnerability is not weakness, it’s the gateway to transformation.

 Role of a good marriage counsellor: A skilled marriage counsellor should play a delicate and crucial role in helping couples overcome challenges, strengthen their bond, and create lasting positive change. 

Here are some key qualities to look for in a counsellor, some of which I researched and also learnt in Bible school. 

Ideally, a competent marriage counsellor should have specialised training in couples therapy.  Look for a counsellor or therapist who is trained, licensed or with specific expertise in relationship dynamics. 

Concrete goals: A good counsellor takes time to understand the couple, where they are and where they are coming from and helps them set realistic goals. 

They guide the process by defining what success might look like for the relationship. 

Trustworthy, calm and collected: A great counsellor maintains a sense of calm, even when emotions run high during sessions. They create a safe space for both partners to express themselves freely without judgement. Couples or individual should feel safe to open up in order to get to the bottom of whatever the challenge might be. Trust is crucial. 

No one wants to lay bare their vulnerabilities to someone in confidence, only to have all their business discussed with other people. 

Effective communication: A skilled therapist communicates effectively, ensuring that both partners feel heard and understood. They facilitate productive conversations and guide couples toward resolution. 

Empathy and compassion: A compassionate counsellor validates each partner’s feelings and experiences, not to take sides. Empathy is a sure way of fostering trust and openness. Discussing sensitive issues can be challenging, as some individuals may face uncomfortable emotions during therapy. 

Intensified conflicts: Sometimes, addressing relationship issues in therapy can temporarily intensify conflicts. I recently watched a show where a couple tried to have therapy. No sooner had they begun, than they started hurling insults at each other to a point where the therapist decided to stop the session midway, for the couple to cool off. However, this expression of frustrations is often a necessary step toward resolution. 

Alignment with your relationship: Find a counsellor whose approach aligns with your relationship values for instance if you prefer faith based counsel. You shouldn’t have to teach your therapist basic terminology and ethics. Trust your gut feeling. If you don’t feel comfortable with a therapist, explore other options. 

Why some men are reluctant:  It’s true that some men hesitate to engage in couples counselling.  Here are some common reasons

 Verbal communication: Generally, men seem to struggle to articulate emotions and more comfortably express themselves non-verbally. Therapy focusses on conversation which can be uncomfortable for some and the emphasis on feelings can leave them feeling frustrated. 

Problem solvers: Men tend to be solution-oriented. They focus on “How do we fix this?” rather than solely discussing feelings which may seem like a “slow cooking” approach to problem solving. 

Real-life success stories: Success stories are a dime a dozen. From those that got help through community leaders’ counsel,  family counsel or professional therapy, you can find couples who, through therapy, transformed their relationship from the brink of divorce. Some have been known to rekindle their flame, reigniting intimacy and emotional connection through wise counsel. Ultimately, couples therapy isn’t about blindly taking all advice as each relationship has its own merits, and some “advisers” don’t always have the couples’ interest at heart especially if they are not professional. I reckon therapy is more about sifting through insights and applying what resonates with you in creating a stronger, more fulfilling partnership. Let’s keep the conversation going. I would be happy to hear your views for or against couples therapy,  any experience, whether you have tried it or if it’s something you would consider. Till next instalment, may love blossom and peace prevail in your life. 

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