Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some sort of a marriage counseling guide that could help you know when you need counseling, how to find it, and how it might help your relationship?
Because every situation is different, it would be tough to write a book that would be helpful to a wide variety of couples; however, here are some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Steven M Cohn, PhD, LMFT
The Portland Couples Counseling Center
1940 NE Broadway
Portland, Oregon 97232
The first subject that might be brought up in a marriage counseling guide is when should a couple seek counseling? There are those who maintain that couples counseling should begin even before the wedding ceremony. BeforeMarriage.org notes that divorce rates are alarmingly high, and that many couples seek pre-marital counseling as a way to “damage-proof” their relationships.(1)
Your pre-marital counselor may ask you to complete an evaluation called the Pre-Marital Inventory (PMI). The PMI was developed by Charles K. Burnett, who is not only a priest, but also a social worker and psychologist. The inventory helps you and your prospective spouse evaluate the similarities and differences in your interests and activities, role expectations, communication skills and styles, marriage expectations, finances, and sexuality, among other parameters.(2)
Unfortunately, for too many couples, relationship counseling is often sought only as a last resort. Most Relationship Specialist will tell you that counseling should be brought into the picture much earlier, allowing you to stabilize the relationship while it is still strong, rather than trying to pick up the fractured pieces after a huge explosion. You might think of this in terms of fixing a windshield. It is much easier to patch a small ding than to replace the whole windshield after a crack has appeared.
Counselors, like any population of people, come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, personalities, and styles. If you don’t get the results you hoped for from the first counselor or if there is a personality mis-match, don’t hesitate to try another counselor before you simply give up on the process.
What should you expect from counseling. The short answer is that you should expect to get out only as much as you put into the experience. For example, in cases of infidelity, Minnesota Marriage and Family Counseling, LLC recommends that a new “trust bridge” be built between the partners in order to heal after an affair is discovered.(3) This can be a very intensive process and requires hard work from both partners in order to find the hope your marriage deserves.
(1)Before Marriage Counseling Guide. Retrieved April 22, 2011 from http://beforemarriage.org/counseling.php
(2)Pre-Marital Inventory. Intercommunications Publishing. Retrieved April 22, 2011 from http://www.intercompub.com/html/our_history.html
(3)Infidelity Counseling: Marriage Counseling Guide. Minnesota
Marriage and Family Counseling Retrieved April 22, 2011 from
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Steven M. Cohn, PhD is honored to have been featured on CNBC.com.
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