7 Basic Principles of Marriage Counseling in Illinois: Part One

DuPage County divorce lawyer, marriage counseling in Illinois, marriage counseling, couples therapy, conflict resolution, marital problemsWhy should my spouse and I go to a marriage counselor?

1. Begin with a positive attitude. Forget what you may have heard about marriage counseling not working. Marriage counseling does work. You can try to work out your differences with a marriage counselor or you can work them out in public in a divorce court. It is better to try the first option. Do not be afraid of marriage counseling. Divorce is worse.

2. Start marriage counseling early. In fact, start marriage counseling as early as possible when difficulties arise. Many couples wait until divorce is on the horizon before they start marriage counseling. For one spouse or the other, counseling may be too late. It has been said, marriage counseling is like treating a broken leg. The sooner you get the treatment, the more likely you are to have a full recovery.

3. If you are unable to learn to resolve conflict, take lessons. Try to find a marriage counselor who will teach you how to resolve conflict. Consider the many classes you had in school subjects such as history, math or science. Now think about how many of those classes actually taught "conflict resolution." For most people the answer is "none." No student is given a course in skills to help work out differences between himself and others to avoid argument. Our school systems simply do not teach even the basics of how to resolve conflicts and differences of opinion between two people. A good therapist, however, will teach you how to resolve such conflict in a positive way. For example, a good therapist will teach you how to avoid placing blame on the other party and how to avoid name-calling.

4. Select a tough marriage counselor. Among therapists, individual therapy is easier than couples therapy. The reason is because you are not dealing with two people on the brink of disaster or who are so far apart that they can hardly be in the same room with each other.

"Part of the problem is that the kind of person who tends to become a therapist—empathic, sensitive, calm, accepting—is generally not the kind of person who is a good couples therapist,” states Terry Real, a licensed independent clinical social worker. “The traditional, passive uh-huh, uh-huh is useless. You have to like action. To manage marital combat, a therapist needs to get in there, mix it up with the client, be a ninja. This is intimidating.” Therefore, make sure your marriage counselor will be an active participant in the process and not just an observer.

5. Identify the underlying problem and resolve it. A good therapist will try to understand you and your spouse and come up with a working theory to try to discover what is the fundamental conflict leading you to divorce. Spouses do not just fall out of love. Usually, an underlying cause exists: money issues, gambling, alcohol or drug use, and infidelity are just some of the major causes of divorce.

Couples do not get divorced because of general reasons such as one of them needing "space." The only reason one needs space is because there is someone else occupying it, such as a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend.” Additionally, unresolved issues your spouse experienced as a child—though hard to believe but true—may be the cause of a divorce later in life. Identifying the problem is sometimes half of the issue. A good marriage counselor can help you with this assessment.

6. Stop the negative conduct now. A good marriage counselor will try to prevent a couple from engaging in actions that can cause physical, psychological, or economic harm to one another.

7. Marriage counseling, just like marriage, is hard work. It requires commitment, practice, and a willingness to keep an open mind. No marriage is perfect but it sometimes beats the alternative. Stay together and keep your children healthy, or get divorced and give them baggage that they will have the rest of their lives.

If you are considering divorce, and are ready to speak with a compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyer, call 630-920-8855 today. We will work with you to help obtain the best possible results for you and your family.

Read Part 2 of the Series >>

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