Marital and Couple's Therapy & Counseling

Relationship therapy is the process of counseling the parties of a human relationship in an effort to recognize, and better manage or reconcile, troublesome differences and repeating patterns of stress upon the relationship.

Different concepts in relationship therapy

Couple’s therapy (or relationship therapy) is a subset of relationship counseling. It may differ from other forms of relationship counseling in various ways, including its duration. Sessions can vary from 1 to 3 session, whereas with long-term couples may vary between 12 and 24 sessions. In addition, relationship counseling tends to be more ‘here and now’ and focuses on new coping strategies. Marital/couple’s therapy is more about dealing with dysfunctional aspects of one or either of the partners within a relationship. Marital enrichment, however, refers to assisting couples by teaching them skills and giving them tools to enhance their good relationship to an even higher level of relationship satisfaction.

Marriages and relationships are in serious trouble

While statistics are indicating a decrease of official marriages, data released by Statistics South Africa, indicated that the divorce rate is at its highest and has since 2012 increased with 5%.  It is a commonly held belief that a high divorce rate is a new trend of a lazier generation that refuses to “stick it out” and make the relationship work.

Although various factors contribute to these tendencies, research has indicated that both poor communication between partners and tough economic times are two of the main contributors. Other factors that are mentioned in research include family, religion, unplanned pregnancies, sexual problems, work, health, pension and various others.

When should a couple go for Marriage or Relational Counseling?

Experience has taught that most couples, ending up in a therapist office, should have come for therapy months and even years earlier and that their relationship in all its facets has been deteriorating over a long period of time. A good time to attend marriage or relationship counseling is when:

  • One partner thinks he/she needs it, even if the other person doesn't think so.
  • You start to withdraw or refuse to address issues of conflict.
  • You have tried everything in the relationship and you now feel stuck.
  • You are thinking you might be happier with someone else.
  • One of you feels emotionally or sexually disconnected and can’t seem to change it on your own.
  • You or your partner is pregnant.
  • When dealing with infidelity.
  • When you/and or your partner is dealing with mental illness.
  • You want to learn skills and tools to have a good or even better marriage or relationship.

Always remember, if one person is unhappy in the marriage or relationship, it is a relationship problem. Furthermore, conflict in a relationship does not mean the end of the relationship, but should rather be seen as growth trying to happen. Conflict can lead you to have a better relationship- if you know how to work with it.

When couples come in, one or both tend to think that the primary problem is their partner. Both partners create and contribute to the quality of their relationship. Both put distress into it, intentionally or not, therefore both need to do something different to change and achieve the relationship they both want.

What do we do during therapy?

During marital therapy we focus on addressing dysfunctional cognition, regulation of emotions and if necessary changing of behavior. During this process your therapist will mainly assist you with the following:

  • Enabling both partners to be heard and to hear themselves.
  • To have your feelings normalized by means of confidential dialogue.
  • Empowering partners to take control of the relationship’s direction and making vital decisions.
  • Serving as a mirror to reflect the relationship’s difficulties.
  • Provide appropriate information and change the view of the relationship.
  • Enhancement of your communication.

The main goals of your therapist are to evaluate your personal and relationship story as you tell it, facilitate and reduce unhelpful conflict and develop realistic and practical solutions. One of the challenges will be for each partner to change their own responses to their partner’s behavior.

Therapy/counseling takes place in an environment where the following core principles can be expected:

  • Respect towards partners in the relationship
  • Empathy
  • Accountability for change
  • Expertise and tact
  • Confidentiality
  • Unconditional acceptance
  • Urge to enhance the quality of the relationship

If warning lights are going on in your relationship, don’t delay too long before seeking help and lose your most important relationship. The longer you postpone, the more difficult it becomes. To save, enhance or to enrich your relationship, the use of Imago Relationship Therapy can be a powerful tool to achieve this. Please feel free to make an appointment to start your journey to a happier relationship.

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers” (-Robert Quillen)