As popular as marriage counseling may be, many couples are still hesitant to try it out.
We were one of those couples.
Suggesting marriage counseling felt like admitting a silent defeat like we were that couple, unable to fix our own problems.
But trust me, this journey toward seeking professional guidance taught us more about our union than we bet any romantic getaway could.
We Tried Marriage Counseling: 10 Surprising Things It Taught Us
1. Initial Reluctance and the Breakthrough
Nobody likes admitting they need a map when they’re lost; we’d rather circle the same block in denial.
That’s exactly how we felt about marriage counseling.
We were convinced that if we just talked more, listened better, or tried harder, we’d magically fix everything.
But after months of arguments and misunderstandings, we decided to give it a try.
And boy, were we wrong.
Once we swallowed our pride and sat on the counselor’s couch, our “I’ve got this” attitude was replaced with, “Maybe we don’t, and that’s okay.”
We understood that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but rather a strength.
2. It’s Not About Blame
In the beginning, we were convinced that one of us must be at fault.
Our counselor, with her ever-so-calm voice, helped us see that finger-pointing was only building taller walls between us.
It wasn’t about who forgot to take out the trash or who spent what amount.
The big reveal was learning to focus on solutions, not just the problems.
Think less about “You never do the dishes!” and more “Was today just too hectic for chores?”
We learned to approach issues with empathy and openness rather than judgment and accusation.
3. Communication is Key
This seemed like a no-brainer, but it’s easier said than done.
Our counselor gave us some tools to improve our communication skills, intentional listening, speaking from the heart, and even setting a timer for each person to speak uninterrupted.
I needed that because I have a bad habit of interrupting my man mid-sentence.
Now, we find ourselves having deeper, more meaningful conversations and genuinely understanding each other’s perspectives.
We are learning to speak less and listen more.
4. The Power of Validation
We often underestimate the power of validation in relationships.
Validation turned out to be the secret sauce for us.
It’s like when one of us really hears the other out and acknowledges their feelings, it changes everything, especially for my husband.
I don’t want you to tell me I’m being sensitive or overreacting when I share something that upsets me.
I want you to hear me out and validate my feelings.
Sometimes, just saying, “I get why you’d feel that way,” makes all the difference.
Our counselor showed us that understanding doesn’t equal agreeing, but acknowledging how we feel goes a long way in making us feel understood and supported.
Feeling validated has made us more generous partners.
Now, we’re dishing out affirmations like we’re trying to break a world record for kindness, and frankly, it feels awesome.
5. The Impact of Our Upbringing
Our counselor led us on a journey back to our childhoods, exploring how our upbringing affects the way we approach relationships.
Isn’t it funny that before you’re even old enough to tie your own shoes, you’re collecting all these little nuggets of ‘how-to-relationship’ from the folks around you?
Who knew that an innocent comment like “You’re just like your mother” could unpack a suitcase of emotional wardrobe we didn’t even remember packing?
Our counselor helped us understand that we all carry baggage, and it’s not the Louis Vuitton kind. lol
It’s the kind that weighs you down when you’re not looking.
We were unknowingly letting old scripts from our childhood dictate our reactions.
Learning how these buried blueprints shaped us helped us not only understand ourselves better but also empathize with each other’s quirks and triggers.
6. The Magic of Compromise
Compromise is often seen as giving up something for the other person.
But our counselor showed us that it’s more about finding a middle ground where both parties feel equally heard and satisfied.
There’s this myth we often hear that “relationships are 50-50,” but in reality, it’s more like 100-100.
We each have to give our all, not just half.
Compromise requires us to set aside our egos and focus on the collective good of the relationship, and it starts with little things.
For instance, I no longer roll my eyes when he wants to watch a sports game, and he doesn’t make sarcastic remarks about my love for reality TV.
Compromise doesn’t always come easily, but when we see how it strengthens our bond, it becomes less of a chore and more of an opportunity for growth.
7. It’s Okay to Disagree
We used to believe that an argument meant our relationship was in trouble.
However, our counselor helped us see that disagreements are inevitable in any relationship.
What matters is how we handle them.
We learned to use disagreements as opportunities for growth and problem-solving rather than weapons of destruction.
Now, when we disagree, we take a step back and approach the situation with understanding and compassion.
We listen to each other’s perspectives and find ways to reach a mutual agreement or compromise.
And if we can’t come to an agreement, that’s okay, too.
We’ve learned that it’s okay to have different opinions as long as we respect and support each other.
8. Setting Boundaries
It’s the thing I didn’t even know I needed until our counselor brought it up.
I know we talk a lot about boundaries in relationships, but for some reason, it usually doesn’t occur to us that we could have them in marriage.
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean building walls; it means being clear about what you will and won’t accept or tolerate.
It’s a way to protect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
And it’s essential to have boundaries in marriage because no one wants to be taken for granted or disrespected by their partner.
For example, we’ve set a boundary of not discussing sensitive topics when we’re angry or tired because that never ends well.
9. The Power of Vulnerability
Baring your soul isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
I mean, who’s thrilled about the idea of sharing their deepest insecurities?
But in counseling, we discovered that being vulnerable makes everything better.
When we started sharing those ‘not-so-shiny’ parts of ourselves, those parts we’d rather keep buried under a pile of ‘I’m fines’ and ‘No big deals,’ we unlocked a new level of intimacy.
I remember last year when I wanted to make a major decision, and my husband said, ”I don’t want to lose you.”
And I could read vulnerable on his face and in his voice.
At that moment, I realized that being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength and trust in our relationship.
It allows us to connect with each other on a deeper level and understand each other’s fears and struggles.
Vulnerability also creates a safe space for honesty and communication.
Sharing our vulnerabilities helps us break down walls and open ourselves up to genuine conversations.
We learn to listen without judgment and offer support instead of criticism.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about love; it’s about connection.
And what better way to connect than to be unapologetically ourselves?
10. Insights from the Counselor’s Perspective
We’re grateful to our counselor for guiding us through this journey and helping us become better partners.
But what really helped was her perspective as an outsider looking in on our relationship.
She provided insights that we couldn’t see ourselves, and it allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of each other.
Having a neutral party to mediate and offer professional advice was invaluable.
The counselor shared examples from their own experience, sprinkling anecdotes that had us nodding and laughing, feeling like, “Yeah, we’ve totally been there!”
It turns out our “unique” problems weren’t so unique after all, and that in itself was comforting.
I highly recommend seeking counseling for any relationship, whether it’s new or long-term.
It’s not a sign of weakness or failure but rather a step towards growth and improvement.
Having an unbiased professional guide you through challenges and offer valuable insights can make all the difference in creating a strong and healthy partnership.
Remember, even the strongest relationships require work and effort, and counseling can provide you with the tools to navigate through difficult times together.