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Couples, Couples, Toil and Troubles: The “Magic” Behind Achieving A Successful Relationship

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By Mia Bolaris-Foget

One of the most stressful times of year can be the holiday season. And, if you are already having “difficulty” adjusting to married/family life, this “joyous” season (with all it’s newfound popularity) can often bring out the “worst” in all of us.

While many resign to “arguing” and “moving on”, others opt for giving themselves and their relationship the gift of “ever-lasting” happiness by learning to “cope” and communicate, and, that most often means counseling.

However, new studies are warning couples about the potential problems associated with introducing a third party to their relationship. In fact, they suggest that many therapists, depending on their (personal) philosophy can actually be contributing to the problem. Some have even been noted as defining divorce as a personal rite of passage. And those concerned say that especially when it comes to relationship therapy and therapists, good help is hard to find.

Still, they note, that for dedicated couples, dedicated to their marriage, and saving it at “any” cost, recruiting a counselor with YOUR best interests in mind is priceless.

Here are a few things to look for (even if it costs more initially) to help you save on more frustration, anger, and perhaps legal fees in the end.

1. Inquire About His/Her Marital “Status”: Make sure that the counselor you choose has the appropriate credentials and training in marriage therapy. Remember, anyone can offer advice; the objective here is to receive good/valuable advice.

Concerned professionals are advise couples that there is a difference between someone who is skilled at helping individuals and someone trained in helping couples. They note that individual therapists are proficient at assisting people get in touch with their own emotions and achieving their own (personal) goals, whereas the mark of a marriage counselor is in his/her ability to help couples overcome their differences together. And, they need to know “how” a marriage works, even if that means one person not necessarily fulfilling to the fullest his or her individual goals.

2. Pick Out Prejudice Professionals: Make sure your counselor/therapists “biased” in the favor of marriage. His or Her primary concern should be helping (or teaching) you how to work out your differences, making you realize which ones are worth making an “issue” over, and helping you grow together in the same direction; and NOT to help you achieve your personal goals at the risk of your relationship.

Some suggest asking your therapist about the number (or percentage) of couples he or she has successfully helped save their marriage. While you probably shouldn’t expect an answer, experts note taking note of your therapist’s immediate reaction should be a clear indication of how confident you should feel. Again, it’s imperative to remember (that except for a few very clear exceptions), your therapists goal is to point out reasons why you should remain together (and how) and not “excuses” for why you should break apart.

3. Warm and Fuzzy Feelings: Besides a sense of professionalism, you should feel comfortable around your therapist, understood, not judged (even if he or she is pointing out something YOU are doing “wrong”) and respected. Any therapist worth his/her weight in fees will be able to steer a couple in the right direction without making either feel a sense of “disapproval”, and without taking sides, but instead acting as a mediator and guiding the couple in appropriate negotiating tactics. Furthermore, you should never feel pressured by your counselor (especially about making a decision regarding your marriage) and you should be able to speak with him or her freely, openly, and honestly about your concerns with what he or she may be suggesting, and he or she should (even if he or she disagrees) respect that.

4. Compatible Value Systems: You and your therapist should feel the same way about marriage. If you are a traditionalist and your therapist is a modernist, chances are your basic views on marriage have all along been different. It may also stand to reason that while you may realize that working things out may take patience and time, a therapist with a vastly different view on marriage may truly believe that it’s time to bail, even if you’re not ready, willing, or able to. While there is no doubt that certain things are clearly right and wrong, there are others are often not that “black and white”. Before asking for “help” make sure your therapist defines (marital) success in the same way you do, and you both have the same goal and objective in mind.

5. Mission (Not So) Impossible: Establish specific goals from the very beginning in order to give you (and your spouse) a direction to head towards. Make sure the goals are attainable and achievable, and make sure to reach for greater accomplishments as you overcome each “hurdle”. If you notice that you are having “difficulty” living up to your goals, reaching and impasse or merely not sensing any change or progress, make sure to address this issue (with your therapist) as well.

6. Take A Futuristic Approach: Examining your past may help you make some interesting (and perhaps helpful) revelations (about yourself) and your reactions, but it won’t necessarily help you cope with the present and the future. Make sure your therapist starts from where you both are NOW and works toward moving you forward, instead of looking back to the future.

7. Get An Attitude Adjustment: Before going into therapy, look at ALL the couples who succeeded despite their differences and problems. Decide (prior to therapy) that they’ve got nothing on you (both). Remember, most (good) things in life require lots of hard work. If your therapist suggests otherwise, maybe you may need to find a new therapist, one’s who (sets the example) by remaining willing to “work” for what he or she gets.

8. Refrain From “Long-Term Commitments”: Experts say trust your instincts and intuition. Give your therapist a “trial run”, but make sure your sense you are making progress, otherwise you may consider seeking out a more compatible counselor.

9. Look For “Reference” Materials: Remember you are not alone. Ask friends and family for their recommendations. Chances are several other (successful) couples have lots of good advice to give, including the name and number of a trusted therapist.

Long Island Relationship Articles > Couples, Couples, Toil and Troubles: The “Magic” Behind Achieving A Successful Relationship

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