5 Alternatives to marriage counselling

In this blog post we will talk about some alternatives to marriage counselling, what is marriage counselling and when should you look for alternative options.

What is marriage counselling?

Counseling is Key to a Healthy Marr... x
Counseling is Key to a Healthy Marriage

Marriage counselling is also known as couples counselling or therapy. It helps married and unmarried couples solve their issues and if possible improve their relationship. It provides the couples with tools that may help them have healthy arguments, communicate better, solve their issues and talk about their differences.

It’s usually provided by licensed therapists – couples or family therapists, and they provide the same psychological services as other counsellors just aimed at couples.

Therapy helps you either rebuild your relationships or decide if you are better off separated. 

Marriage counselling is mostly short term and couples just need a few sessions to get through a bad patch. Some couples do prefer to continue with their therapy sessions as they feel that it helps them in the long run too. You also get individual sessions with your marriage counsellor to help you talk about your individual issues.

The aim is to help you learn more about yourself, your relationship, how you both work together and make informed decisions about all of them.

Couples usually go to therapy for these reasons :

  • Adultery
  • Fights
  • Strengthening their bond
  • Financial issues
  • Cultural barriers
  • Sexual problems
  • Big life changes

There are a few signs that you can look for to decide if you need to try marriage counselling or some alternative methods :

  • If you keep having the same fights over and over again 
  • You can’t resolve your fights easily
  • Whenever you disagree with each other it turns ugly
  • If you are having a difficult time agreeing with each others parenting ideals, financial habits or lifestyle choices
  • When one or both of you feel that your chores and housework are unevenly distributed and are unable to solve it by yourself
  • If you feel that there is no sexual or romantic chemistry anymore
  • When it feels like you’re marriage is running on auto-pilot
  • If you feel that your partner doesn’t listen to you or is emotionally unavailable
  • Couples who have made major changes such as moving to a new country and are having trouble processing it together
  • If one of you is addicted to something or is experiencing mental health issues and it’s affecting your relationship

Alternatives to marriage counselling

Since marriage counselling is quite expensive some people can’t afford it, you can look for alternatives that may work for you. Marriage counselling also doesn’t work for everyone, research states that it only works for 70% of the population.  

So here are some alternatives that you can try :

Put your marriage first

When you have kids, mostly they become your first priority, which means that your marriage takes a backseat. You start making their meals, helping them with homework, and taking care of them. The few hours that you are free after taking care of your work, are mostly dedicated to yourself. 

This can cause issues with your marriage. You should always put your marriage first if this is affecting your relationship. 

It can look like making time for your partner, going on dates, sending your kids for sleepovers and spending a romantic night together, stealing kisses and glances during the day, and dedicating time off to the both of you.

Even if you have kids, doesn’t mean that your relationship should be affected.

Make time for each other

A lot of couples go for marriage counselling because they feel that their marriage is going to be affected, and it helps them strengthen their relationship. 

You can also do this by making time for each other. Someone gave their example and said that they just extended their daily dance classes together to an unlimited package. This gives them the chance to spend time with each other while doing something that they both love and enjoy.

Another couple said that they started trying new things that the other person suggested. It made them happy that their partner was enjoying a new thing that they already enjoy or always wanted to try. 

For example, bowling, skating or going to an amusement park. If you have kids, you don’t need to send them to a playdate or get a babysitter. The end goal is to spend time together, which can be anything such as sitting on the roof or on the stairs with a glass of wine, giving each other massages or foot rubs, trying new recipes together or watching a series or movie together.

Read books about marriage tips together

A lot of good therapists have written books giving their advice about how to make your marriages work. You can get the advice you’d get in marriage counselling from the book. 

These books can help you accept, reflect on and examine your relationship and what you may be doing wrong. A study conducted on books, found that even non-relationship books can help, as reading as a couple of activities can help us understand ourselves and how we relate to others.

Some books written by psychologists are :

  • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • The Road Less Traveled by Dr M. Scott Pack
  • Rising Strong by Brene Brown
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

Communicate

Another couple explained how their relationship took a hit once because one of the partners wasn’t there for the other when they really needed them. It broke their trust in the other.

So instead of having a big fight in the heat of the moment, and saying things they would later on regret, they decided to talk about it later when neither of them was feeling defensive or irritated. The couple talked about the issue a few times over the next few days to properly understand each other’s point of view.

A counsellor suggests that this is a very good technique indeed, and everyone can follow this. They suggest that it’s best to set a time to talk about whatever is troubling you so that it doesn’t come up in the middle of an argument.

They also suggest talking rules such as while one person talks, the other listens and vice versa. This helps both of them feel heard and they can healthily discuss their issues.

Appreciate the good points instead of just dwelling on the bad

Studies state that our brains are wired to focus on the negatives, rather than the positives. It takes five times as many positive feelings to overpower the negative. This can severely affect our relationships.

So it’s our duty to notice the small things that make us happy, instead of focusing on the negatives. Focusing on the negatives impacts our motivation to do anything good for our relationship. 

Noticing positive things and appreciating the little things about your partner can help your relationship a lot. Things like saying I love you or sending them memes that make both of you laugh can help.

Go on vacations together

Planning vacations together is a great way to strengthen your relationship. A lot of the time people are unable to take vacations due to their workload. Making a conscious effort to plan kid-free and work free vacations will give you some much-required couple time. 

You can focus on each other, and your relationship. Even just one vacation a year can work wonders. You can try new things and get to know each other more.

A survey by the US travel association showed that couples who travelled together were more satisfied in their relationships and had better sex.

Take a break from your phones

Especially after the pandemic, everything has been connected to our devices, and we work from home. This causes a lot of distractions and we unknowingly ignore our partners sometimes. So it’s best to keep your phones on silent or flight mode when you decide to spend time together.

Increase the number of times you hug your partner

Studies show that touching each other releases oxytocin, which is the cuddling hormone. Just by holding hands, or hugging your partner, you can feel more connected to each other.

Set boundaries

It’s very important that you set a clear set of rules and boundaries for your relationship. It decreases the chances of miscommunication and confusion.

Take a walk together after dinner

Walking in nature together is great for your mental health and can be excellent therapy. It makes you more open to talking and calms you down.

Spend time with yourself

Clinging to each other, and spending every waking moment with each other may harm you more than it helps you. So spend some alone time as it’ll help you regain your sense of self.

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we talked about alternatives to marriage counselling, the meaning of marriage counselling and why couples go to marriage counselling.

Frequently asked questions: alternatives to marriage counselling

Are marriage counsellors worth it?

It depends on what you need, and your marriage counsellor. Studies have shown that 70% of the couples who when to therapy showed positive results. The therapist was trained and experienced. Nearly half of the couples who received therapy said that it helped them solve most or all of their problems.

Will a couples therapist tell you to break up?

No, therapists will never tell you to break up. The role of a therapist is to help you reach a decision by yourself. It isn’t their job to tell you what you should do and what you shouldn’t. They will help you reach whatever decision you take after considering everything, and will support you if you decide to end the relationship.

In rare cases, such as domestic abuse or ones where it is harming the client the therapist may suggest distancing yourself from the partner or may advise you to leave them, but in the end, it’s your decision.

What are the signs of a bad marriage?

Below are some signs according to people:

  • Making you feel bad about your identity or sexuality
  • Controlling you
  • Your body rejects your partner
  • You hate your partner
  • You feel suffocated

Will marriage counselling help a narcissist?

In a lot of cases, marriage counselling can be beneficial for your narcissistic partner, but it can be hard to get them to come to counselling since they feel that there is nothing wrong with them.

How long does marriage counselling usually last?

A usual session lasts somewhere between 75-90 minutes, but it can vary depending on your issues and the therapist’s treatment plan. 

Most couples only need a few sessions to help them with specific issues, but in some cases, counselling may go on for months to help with issues that have deeper roots.

Can couples therapy make things worse?

Yes, if your therapist isn’t trained or experienced, they can make things worse for you. So, it’s important to find a good and experienced therapist.

References 

Young, A.(2017). 6 Alternatives To Couples Therapy That Can Save Your Marriage. Retrieved from

https://www.prevention.com/sex/g20435850/6-couples-therapy-alternatives/

Andersen, C.(2017). 34 Alternatives to Couples Therapy That Will Strengthen Your Relationship. Retrieved from

https://www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/relationships/g4296/34-alternatives-to-couples-therapy-that-strengthen-your-relationship/

Wisner, W.(2020). Everything You Need to Know About Marriage Counseling. Retrieved from

Lusignan, K. What Can I Do Instead of Couples Therapy? (Here’s an alternative). Retrieved from

https://www.northamptoncouplestherapy.com/blog/alternative-to-couples-therapy/

4 ways to reap the benefits of couple’s therapy — without seeing a therapist. Retrieved from

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/4-ways-reap-benefits-couple-s-therapy-without-seeing-therapist-ncna1135171

Couples Therapy Can Be Costly. Here Are Some Affordable Alternatives. Retrieved from

https://hellorelish.com/articles/couples-therapy-cost-affordable-options.html

What is Marriage Counseling? Who’s It For? And How Does Marriage Counseling Work?. Retrieved from

https://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/therapy/what-is-marriage-counseling-whos-it-for-and-how-does-marriage-counseling-work

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