Understanding Marriage Counseling In Chicago
Many couples looking for marriage counseling in Chicago are often unsure of how the process works. They feel a bit of trepidation because the idea of therapy makes them question their entire relationship.
While it is natural to have this fear, please understand that marriage counseling does not signify something is wrong with your partner or yourself. It is just one of the snags of having a relationship with someone over the course of your life.
Just like your car needs a tune-up every few miles, your relationship needs the same thing.
Below we talk more about how we use marriage counseling in Chicago for our current counseling clients.
Understanding Your Partner
The first step to working with your partner is to understand what John Gottman calls your â€œbidsâ€.
These are the daily communication points between couples. For example, a partner points out the window at a beautiful bird. How you respond to your lover can say a lot about the relationship.
Do you respond by saying â€œWowâ€ and get a pair of binoculars? That is called an â€œactive turn-towards.â€ Maybe you mumble something incoherently and go about your business as usual. Perhaps you react negatively and complain about something else.
Gottman found successful partners do active turn-towards 87% of the time. They form a habit of mind to actively be interested in their partner.
While it can take practice, this is something that everyone can do given proper counseling methods.
The second step is using the word â€œweâ€ a lot. Comparatively, unhappy couples use â€œIâ€, â€œme, and â€œmineâ€ more often.
Gottman states positive relationships should have a ratio ofÂ five positive commentsÂ to every negative one.
The third step relates to mutual responsibilities. For example, take an important part of marriage: sex. While, in some cases, one partner might have some type of dysfunction, it is the responsibility of both partners to work together towards a positive solution.
The fourth step is removing destructive lifestyles and connections. For example, do you ever have a family member who just makes your spouse and you on edge? It might be best to cut off or reduce the negative effect this family member has on your marriage.
The fifth step is to strengthen your partnership. Often fighting couples feel as if they are adversaries. Instead, you are a team. You may have some disagreements, but you still need to work with each other.
One common example, of the enemy theory, is when one party withholds affection from the other one. For example, you get mad at your spouse. To retaliate, you give them the silent treatment.
By doing so, you are becoming their parent or punisher. You are literally starving them of your affection as a weapon. It creates a lack of balance in the relationship.
What We Require of Our Marriage Counseling Chicago Couples
#1 Both sides must be on board with marriage counseling. When only one party agrees to counseling then it is hard to have the other side open up in a therapy session.
Furthermore, it could blind-side your spouse if they are not aware of the session ahead of time. Then they feel dragged into the conversation without really wanting to be a part of it.
#2 Counseling changes behaviors as well as emotions. In the Ultimate Guide to Marriage Counseling, we discussed different forms of marriage counseling techniques.
Techniques like Emotional Focused Therapy and Behavior Modification Therapy help couples improve their communication with each other, so they can come up with joint solutions.
Which brings up another point, goals are vital.
#3 Couples need to have a joint goal that comes out of the session. When writing the article on Couples Counseling Questions we discussed how important it is for couples to ask about goals they want to set before starting.
If you have not done so before you start sessions, then it is important to set these goals with your therapist.
Your spouse is your life partner. The person you chose to go on a journey with through all the troubles and tribulations that occur. However, when you have challenges it does not mean that you have to navigate them on your own.
Having a neutral third party can help. If you are in need of someone who can work to ensure your marriage has a strong foundation, then please call us at 847-824-8366.