Relationship Counseling for Mature Couples: What You Should Know

Relationship Counseling for Mature Couples: What You Should Know

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Relationship counseling is often stigmatized as something that only "couples in crisis" seek out. In actuality, relationship counseling can benefit nearly all couples. Whether you're experiencing minor problems, such as increased bickering, or more serious issues, such as financial struggles or infidelity, couples counseling can often help. Though few people like the idea of going to therapy, couples counseling is a great way to resolve your interpersonal issues in a neutral and professional setting. For couples who are committed to making their relationships as happy and healthy as possible, couples therapy is a great choice. Here are the most important things to know before committing to couples therapy.

 

Finding the "right" therapist is critically important.

Before committing to couples counseling, be sure to do your research. Many individuals hastily register for therapy without really considering the need to find the best therapist for their situation. As a result, couples often end up with therapists who specialize in individual therapy. Couples therapy has a dynamic that's very different from that of "normal" therapy; as such, it's important to find a specialist who focuses on relationship therapy. Consider visiting a therapist for a one-time trial session before committing to long-term counseling. This way, you can also ensure that you find a therapist who understands your needs and offers unbiased advice, without favoring either you or your partner. By seeking out the right therapist ahead of time, you can guarantee that your therapy experience will be a success in the future.

 

Resolving big issues requires big commitments.

Couples therapy is an effective way to manage conflicts and improve relationships. Despite its frequent successes, however, the process is rarely easy. Many couples mistakenly believe that a few weeks of therapy will miraculously mend their relationships. In actuality, the couples with the greatest successes are often those who stick with therapy for months or even years. As a senior, you may have to be particularly patient with the therapy process. Adults over 50 tend to have habits that are more deeply ingrained. Most individuals will probably find it challenging to modify behaviors that have persisted for decades. As such, older adults will have to really commit to their relationship counseling goals. If you and your partner are serious about making major changes to your relationship, you will eventually see the results.

 

One partner receiving counseling is better than none.

Many individuals find it difficult to convince their partners that couples counseling is worth the time, effort, and emotional commitment. Even if your partner refuses to participate, most couples counselors are willing to see individuals one-on-one. Through individual therapy, you can learn more about communication techniques, coping skills, and your own cognitive health. By working on yourself first, you'll be better able to improve certain aspects of your relationship. With luck, your partner may warm up to the idea of counseling, too.

 

Discomfort is a natural part of the process.

Though relationship counseling often produces excellent results, the counseling process is rarely easy and fun. Unlike individual therapy sessions, couples counseling involves two individuals, each with different thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Due to this dynamic, the therapist cannot (and should not) take sides. Both partners must be open to having difficult conversations and making meaningful changes to the relationship. You may have to alter your view of your relationship and eliminate dysfunctional and manipulative behaviors as well. Uncomfortable truths may come out, and you and your partner will have to communicate openly and honestly with one another. If you can grit your teeth and sit though these challenging conversations, there's a good chance your relationship will ultimately change for the better.

 

Counseling can't always save a relationship.

Despite your best efforts, relationship counseling sometimes isn't enough to save a relationship. When it comes to counseling, it is always better to seek assistance sooner rather than later. Sometimes, couples visit counseling too late. Resentments, rage, and bad habits become so deeply entrenched that therapy alone cannot reverse them. If you and you partner are already experiencing problems, now is the time to consider therapy. Even if you fear that your relationship may come to an end, couples counseling can still be useful to you and your partner. Some relationship counselors specialize in a therapy technique known as "discernment counseling." In this form of counseling, a therapist helps a couple decide whether to continue their relationship or bring it to an amicable end. Regardless of the path the couple chooses, this form of therapy can help both partners resolve their differences in a safe and professional environment. Though counseling may not save every relationship, it is beneficial in nearly all circumstances. It's never too late to change your relationship. Whether you're seriously dating, considering marriage, or are already married, couples counseling has the potential to improve the quality of your relationship for the better. If you give it a chance, you just might find yourself feeling happier and more fulfilled, too.

Photo: (c) Lisa F. Young / fotolia.com

Editor, 07/23/2015

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