The journey to marriage is a long one, and it is an intimate and often difficult relationship that requires constant communication, compromise, and self-reflection. While these things can certainly be learned as a couple navigates life together over time, sometimes it’s easier to seek professional help early on in your relationship.
This approach is taken by many couples, resulting in an upward rise in the marriage counseling sector. For the unversed, the marriage counselors sector in the US, along with other mental health workers, has grown by 5% per year on an average between 2018 and 2023 and is still growing.
Due to the high demand for therapists, the average annual salary of marriage counselors is also high. According to ZipRecruiter, the average income of marriage counselors in Nashville is around $90,649 annually.
This article offers helpful tips for finding the right marriage counselor.
Do You Need Counseling Before Marrying?
You’ve been dating for a while and are ready to take the next step. It’s time to move in together, get engaged, or get married. You want your marriage to last forever, but how do you make sure it does?
The best way is by preparing yourself before entering into this new stage of life with another person. Marriage counselors can help couples ensure they are ready for what lies ahead by guiding premarital counseling sessions.
These sessions are an assessment tool that helps couples think about their relationship as a partnership rather than just two individuals coming together for love and companionship alone.
Couples also learn how communication plays an essential role in building trust. Having shared values helps keep them grounded when faced with challenges, making marriage counseling crucial. In fact, data shows that those who opt for this fare better in their married lives than 80% of couples who don’t.
You will need such benefits, especially in locations where divorce rates are high. Per a report by The Independent Herald, Nashville and Memphis are ranked in the top 15 unfaithful cities based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Hence, hiring a marriage counselor before getting into marriage in such places can help your marriage last longer.
Remember that the benefits you get depend on the service provider. That makes it important to narrow your search to the best Nashville marriage counselors and pick the right one. Looking at the therapist’s educational background and license can help here.
Almost all therapy firms have a website page about their team and their qualifications. For example, Fair Park Counseling has a web page titled “Our Team,” where the staff’s details are provided. The page lists the educational details of the therapists. It includes what colleges and universities they studied at and what qualifications they hold.
Build Effective Communication
Marriage counselors can help couples learn how to communicate effectively. Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage, and couples who can communicate well are more likely to have happy and lasting marriages.
Marriage counselors can help couples learn how to listen effectively, which means they will be able to better understand each other’s points of view. This will also improve their ability to resolve conflicts constructively instead of letting them escalate into arguments or fights that hurt both partners’ feelings.
Identify and Work Through Underlying Issues
Marriage counselors help couples identify and work through underlying issues that may negatively affect their marriage. Underlying issues can be financial, family-related, or emotional.
For example, suppose one partner grew up in a home where sex was never discussed or discussed openly. In that case, they may have trouble talking about sex with their spouse or even understanding why it’s essential to do so. Or maybe one spouse is an only child while the other is used to having many siblings growing up. This could lead them down different paths when it comes time for decisions like whether or not they want children together.
Counselors can also help couples understand the underlying issues’ impact on their relationship. Suppose one person has always felt judged by his parents. In that case, this sense of judgment will likely carry over into his marriage, where it becomes difficult for him to feel comfortable expressing himself around his wife because she doesn’t share those same beliefs either.
Foster a Sense of Teamwork
A successful marriage is one where you and your partner can work together on common goals. By working together, I mean you can trust and have faith in each other. You have each other’s backs no matter what happens because your spouse will always be there for you, even when things get tough.
Marriage counselors help foster this sense of teamwork by teaching couples how to communicate effectively with one another and resolve conflicts without resorting to anger or resentment.
Qualities of Effective Marriage Counselors
According to Zippia, there are over 120,000 marriage and family counselors in the US. However, not all therapists will have the right qualities to help you. While choosing the right therapists can be challenging, here are some qualities you should look for in a marriage counselor.
- Listen to both partners. Marriage counselors should always try to hear both partners’ concerns, even if one party appears to be more vocal than the other. This is because it’s often difficult for one partner in a marriage to explain their feelings without feeling as if they are being judged or criticized by their partner.
- Respect client confidentiality. The information you share with your counselor should remain private and confidential, even after therapy ends or when you move away from town and want help finding a new therapist in your new location. Your counselor may ask for permission before discussing anything specific about you or your spouse with anyone else. However, once that permission has been given, it cannot be withdrawn during treatment unless there has been an emergency involving the risk of harm.
- Be non-judgmental. Your counselor should not judge either party based on gender stereotypes such as “men should always pay” or “women shouldn’t talk back.” If this happens during sessions, it could lead to further problems when these beliefs get reinforced instead of challenged.
Types of Marriage Counseling
There are a few different types of marriage counseling, such as solution-focused and emotionally-focused counseling.
Solution-focused therapy is another approach that focuses on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. For example, if you’re having trouble paying your bills, the therapist will help you find ways to get out of the debt instead of just discussing money problems. According to a study published in The Professional Counselor’s Journal, solution-focused therapy works 5 times better for adults, as it requires some maturity.
Emotionally focused couples therapy uses attachment theory as its foundation. In other words, this kind of counseling looks at how past relationships affect current ones and how each partner can best communicate his/her needs without hurting his/her partner’s feelings. In a recent controlled study, 70% of couples were distress-free two years after undergoing EFT.
Marriage counselors are trained to help couples resolve conflicts, improve communication and develop new patterns of relating that can lead to a stronger marriage. They do this by assisting couples in understanding each other’s points of view and empathizing with each other’s feelings.