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Is it Time to Seek Couples Counseling?

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” This quote, from popular author Dave Meurer, is one that many couples can likely identify with.

Being a couple isn’t always easy, and every couple has its ups and downs. How do you know when you and your partner might benefit from professional help? We spoke with Michael Weinberg, Ph.D., a licensed professional counselor at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, to get some perspective on the subject.

“Problems related to finance, children, intimacy and partners not meeting each other’s expectations can lead many couples to seek couples counseling,” said Dr. Weinberg.

Dr. Weinberg also said that, in the first two years after marriage, couples may find themselves thinking, “Oh,my! What did I do? Choosing you to be my partner for life,” when things get rough. Over the next few years, couples may notice they’re growing apart or have developed different interests. Later, as couples with children become empty nesters, they may think they have less of a reason to be together because their kids are grown and on their own. And interwoven through all the years and stages can be stress brought on by finances, children, job loss, health issues and many other trials and tribulations. All of these can lead a couple to consider counseling.

Dr. Weinberg cautioned, though, that, before entering couples counseling with your partner, you may consider undergoing individual therapy to work through your own issues that may be contributing to your relationship difficulties.

“Hopefully due to making changes in yourself first, you and your partner will be more inclined to ‘own’ your behavior in the relationship and not blame each other,” said Dr. Weinberg.

“Sometimes couples go for marriage counseling prematurely and then find themselves in a stalemate position,” said Dr. Weinberg. “Often one or both partners are suffering emotional traumas from the past that experiences in the marriage can resurrect. Both partners need to go into marriage counseling willing to do the work it takes to get the marriage in a more positive place.”

When taken seriously and with effort put into it, couples counseling can teach both people how to be better communicators and listeners, according to Dr. Weinberg. “Couples counseling works best with two healthy partners who are seeking to resolve differences in meeting each other’s needs,” he said.

If you, your partner, or both of you together would benefit from individual or couples counseling, visit bannerhealth.com for resources available near you.

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