Marital Counseling Is A Science Interwoven With Arts
The development of marriage guidance as a specialty dates back to such pioneer work as that of Stone, who established the first marriage consultation center in New York in 1929 and of Popenoe, who established the Institute of Family Relations in 1930.
A Philosophy for Marriage Counseling:
Marriage counseling is the term applied to efforts to help both husband and wife in their marital relationships. We take the position that the counselor or therapist does not have the right to decide whether or not divorce is the best solution for those who seek marital counseling. Marital counseling can assist in optimum adjustment for each of the parties concerned, whether or not divorce is a part of the solution.
The counselor should recognize that there are some couples whose emotional separation has been of such long duration, with so much bitterness, that no reconciliation is possible. Where great personality damage has been done to one or both individuals,’ reconciliation may be a dubious answer. This does not mean that divorce is the only solution. A couple may be helped to live together in relative harmony and security even though the goal of a close marriage tie is impossible.
In some instances a separation is the only means by which a marriage can be saved. Frequently, of course, this leads to final dissolution of the marriage. However, separation may help individuals face the realities of living instead of blaming one another for their problem If the counselor can make the couple stop quarreling over petty issue»/he may make it possible for one or both of them to do some basic growing. Later, they may be able to cope with marital interactions on a more constructive basis.
Separation is seldom instigated by the counselor. Usually it is a reality factor to be considered in the particular counseling situation; but die counselor who is aware that separation can serve constructive purposes can help his clients more effectively.
Effects of Disruptions on Children
Sometimes a separation is a necessary transition to final divorce. It can facilitate reasonably amicable post divorce relations and minimize unnecessary bitterness that likely will react unfavorably on the children caught in the middle. Thus, one of the most common considerations in divorce is the effect it will have on children involved. Unhappy marriage without divorce can be far more destructive to him than divorce.
Unfortunately, such families not only develop maladjusted personalities, but they also tend to perpetuate their unhealthy patterns in the marriages of the next generation. Marital counseling, in many instances, is the most direct and suitable approach to breaking this vicious circle.
Marriage counseling is more extensive in scope, however, since it deals with the elements of a sick marriage as well
As the personalities of the parties involved, the course of reconciliation in marital therapy may be diagrammed. What is suggested here is that initially, marital therapy causes the marital relationship to get worse rather than better. The course of marital therapy suggests that at first, the spouses seem to separate psychologically. For this reason, it is unwise in the initial phases of therapy to focus on reconciliation. To do this would be to limit the necessary expression of hostile feelings toward one’s spouse. Therapy brings to consciousness these hostile feelings, many of which have remained dormant for years. The expression of such negative feelings enables the client to reach the point of disaster. Here he comes to regard himself as a person of worth and dignity who does not need to stay with the marriage at any cost. This is the “brink of disaster” point, psychologically speaking.
Conscious recognition of these facts, however, leads the client to make a choice. He can be free of the marriage; but he is free also to choose marriage and not be neurotically bound to it when he makes the latter choice, he is able to relate effectively to his partner for the first time. This means that it may be unwise for the client or the therapist to consciously focus on ‘saving the marriage at all’. If the attitude is to ‘save or reconcile at all costs’, it may prevent the spouse from reaching the brink of disaster point, which seems to us such a fruitful therapeutic condition in successful marital therapy.
Differences between Men and Women
Closely related to understanding the love relationship in marriage is understanding that the differences between men and women are more than physiological. Again, the client may need help in understanding how he developed his attitudes toward his own sex role and that of the opposite sex. His early lack of proper sex-role identification or his early resentments relating to sibling rivalries may be the source of much hostility in marriage. He may need considerable assistance in learning to understand, on an emotional level, just what his responsibilities and privileges are in regard to marriage.
Women operate in terms of the Eros Principle and are basically feeling or intuitive in their approach to life. Men operate on the Logos Principle and tend to be more intellectual, systematic, and power-centered in their approach. Masculine character can be dealt with penetration, guidance, activity, discipline, and adventurousness. The feminine character can be understood by productive receptiveness, protection, realism, endurance, and motherliness.
The main therapeutic implication of the preceding opinions is that each individual needs to recognize that his mate has different needs, has had different experiences, and of necessity looks at life differently, and reacts to life’s demands in a different manner. The conflict between a man and a woman needs to be understood in terms of the two unique personalities. What, is this woman like? What is the personality pattern of this man?
A further counseling implication is that an understanding of cultural and physiological forces at work can take some of the sting out of the conflict between the sexes; but essentially each human being must learn to accept and develop his own sex role in relation to his past experiences, his present situation, and his future goals. In practice, it is noted that once the client has been helped to understand, accept, and enjoy his own role he can then be helped to accept the differences of his mate need. He can see that they are an important basis for enriching his marriage and his personal life. He sees that learning to value differences is a measure of personal and marital maturity.
Empathy is ‘direct’ appreciation of the state of mind of other person. Without empathy there can be little basic acceptance between human beings. Growing empathy between husband and wife can be a measure of improvement in the marriage relationship.
The counselor’s own ability to empathize with the client frequently can be used as a meaningful starting point for the client. The client knows, or can be helped to realize, that the counselor’s acceptance is not the same as approval or sympathy. Having received an empathic response, the client then may be more ready to show empathy for others.
Experiencing empathic responses from a counselor sometimes suffices to stimulate the client’s potential growth. In other cases, the counselor can demonstrate to the client his stubborn resistance to empathy and can use the demonstration as an interpretive stepping stone to give him a deeper understanding of his defense mechanisms and personality development.
In some marriages, one or both individuals have such distorted means of communication that even in casual conversation they misinterpret simple, facts. Poor communication, then, becomes a focal point of many quarrels.
What they feel. Accurate communication in a marriage not only can reduce hostility based upon misunderstanding, but also it can be a basis for developing a feeling of closeness or oneness within the marriage. The counselor should learn to recognize that people express themselves differently, some people express affection or other by words. But just because something isn’t expressed verbally doesn’t mean it isn’t felt. If communication between persons A and B is bad, A then makes guesses. The longer the time that elapses, the less A’s information resembles reality.
Once the marriage has been consummated, two basic types of problems may arise: (1) Those involving the individual personality adjustment of the married partners, and (2) those more related to the marriage itself.
Special Personality Adjustment Problems in Marriage
There are several deep characterological problems that often are seriously aggravated by marriage. These problems include alcoholism, extreme jealousy, compulsive nagging, chronic complaining, and violent temper.
Special Areas of Conflict in the Marriage Relationship
1. Finances. What significance does money have for this individual and his mate? Which partner (or is it both) is immature in handling finances? Are financial difficulties a symptom of over all immaturity?
2. Social Life. Do these individuals actually have different social aims? Are they temperamentally different in terms of sociability? Is each lacking in an understanding of the other’s social needs? Why is one of them placing great emphasis on social life?
3. Parent-Child Relationships. Is there basic disagreement in regard to discipline? Has either of these individuals a distorted idea of discipline? Is there over identification with a child or the children by either parent? Is there a resentment of the responsibilities of marriage expressing ‘itself through parent-child difficulties?
4. In-Laws. Are the in-laws the problem or is it the client’s attitude toward them? If there is not unity in handling this problem how much unity is there on other problems? Is jealousy a major issue? Is one client complaining about his in-laws because his own parents are his problem? How mature is this individual in terms of maintaining his own independence?
5. In-Family Triangle. Why is this individual alarmed by his mate having close ties with someone else in the family? Was this ever a close marriage? Is this client basically possessive? Is the mate expressing hostility by over-devotion to some other family member?
6. Extra-Marital Relationship. How has this client foiled to build a marriage that meets the needs of his mate? Is he overly hostile or overly forgiving in his attitude? Is client really interested in re-establishing the marriage? What was he trying to accomplish, in terms of his own needs, by extramarital entanglement? What kind of individual did he pick to make the triangle and why did he pick this individual?
7. Job Pressures. Why are job pressures impinging upon the marriage? Is the individual really in a dead-end job or the wrong type of work? Does one or both have resentment or shame in regard to the job’s prestige or income level? Are the hours of work really excessively long or is the job used as an escape from the home? What goals did this couple have originally in regard to economic status?
8. Inadequate realization of Self Responsibility. Is this individual really bogged down with too much responsibility and too many pressures? Does he really want to help himself or does he want some magic solution? Is this client unprepared for the responsibilities of family living? Are there practical things that could be done to give this individual some opportunity for creative activity that he has not tried? Is this client really trying to pull away from the marriage?
9. Different Cultural Background. What part did defiance of family play in the original choice of each other? Is one enjoying basically what he considers a superior role? What does this couple have in common? Is one using cultural differences to cover up more basic dissatisfactions? The counselor must not ask the client these questions directly. Rather, he should use them to develop his own insight into what is behind the client’s problems.
The goal is to make the client understand how the problem developed, what underlying attitude is reflected, and what it symbolizes in the marriage. Knowing the client’s cultural background will help the counselor to decide which of the client’s remarks he will choose for reflection.
10. Sexual Conflict. Marriage counselors generally work on the underlying psychological problems of the couples rather than directly on the sexual problems. There are situations, however, where problems of inadequate knowledge and technique contribute to the difficulty.
There is considerable variation in the client’s willingness to go beneath the surface of the problem confronting him. The client should be the main person to determine the length of marital therapy and the depth of insight to be achieved. The manner in which the counselor help the client to think about the problem, even on a superficial level, will make the client seek deeper counseling. For this reason, the counselor’s understanding of the broad implications of presenting symptoms is an important facet of his proficiency.
Helping people to understand themselves and their mates:
His purpose is to help them to understand how others have solved similar problems. The counselor hopes that by helping his clients understand how their problems originated they will develop insight and techniques for handling present and future difficulties.
The basic aim of premarital counseling is to assist the prospective mates to gain a better understanding of themselves, of each other. Counselors help clients with premarital problems involving mate selection, developing a mature outlook on love and sexual attitudes, and preparing themselves psychologically for marriage.
The Problem of Male Choice
A basic consideration in premarital counseling is the obvious question of mate choice. Psychologists have pointed out that many mate choices are based on some form of neurotic attraction.
One of the major jobs in premarital counseling is to help young people determine the extent to which their choice of a mate, is healthy and the degree to which it is neurotic.
Marriage between healthy, self-actualizing people is a merging of feelings and intellectual choices. The choice is felt to be right. Their cognitive acts confirm their feelings, or vice versa. This reciprocal confirmation and convergence process takes place in varied ways with the individuals involved. Either approach is suitable as long as the two are balanced.
The Nature of Love
A second area of prime concern in premarital counseling is the meaning of love. Unfortunately, too few people who are preparing for marriage have ever taken time to develop any rational definition of love, much less to evaluate what love means to them as individuals. When asked, most people are likely to say that they married for love; but they cannot, if asked, verbalize what they meant then or what they mean in the present when they say they love or do not love their mate. Frequently a person’s concept of love does not distinguish between ‘romantic love’ and ‘mature love’ between man and woman. Romantic love has cultural roots in the past; but it survives in the present, nurtured by an endless barrage of fairy tales told in myriads of slightly different forms in movies, magazines, novels, and TV. The media cater to the susceptible day-dreams of the immature and tend to make them addicts of romantic emotionalism. This happens because in their immaturity they appear unable to understand, let alone grow into, mature love relationships without assistance.
A counselor needs to be familiar with the common psychological interpretations of the forms of love and the processes of loving. Although a thorough analysis cannot be made here, certain generally accepted ideas concerning love will be described as they affect the problem of premarital counseling
Romantic love is defined as the projection of an individual’s emotional needs onto a love object. Romantic love is the search for the ideal mate. This ideal mate personalities have all the perfection and divine attributes that the individual feels he himself lacks or needs. Mature love, by contrast, comes only after a knowledge of and experience with the loved partner. It may follow a ‘period of disillusionment’ associated with romantic love. Falling out of romantic love results from a shattering of the idealized, romantic, love illusion. One falls out of love, because one does not work through the period of disillusionment to a new conception of love based not on projected needs, but on a realistic appraisal of one another and a deep valuing of each other as unique persons. Counterfeit love can be recognized when the relationship is degrading, exploitive, possessive, violent, antisocial, irresponsible, sadistic, or masochistic. These are the symptoms that point to a neurotic personality that must be helped to maturity before a normal love relationship can be developed.
Mature love involves learning to give and receive love and that the needs of the other must be at least as important as one’s own; One person feels another’s needs as if they were his own and for that matter also feels his own needs to some extent as if they belonged to the other, otherwise mature love, does not exist. Mature love requires spaces in your togetherness. In that people stand together yet not too near together:
There is no blueprint for telling how a counselor can help a client understand and feel the meaning of these concepts. Each individual must discover what love means and how he can become lovable and loving in his own way. However, an awareness and a willingness on the part of the counselor or therapist to interpret these formulations on the meanings of love can greatly assist the client in his search for understanding and expressing love.
The neurotic individual often seeks to establish intimacy with another by sexual contact rather than through a gradual association. Such experiences of sudden intimacy are usually short-lived and unsatisfying. Sexual desire is often mistaken for love, and frequently-sexual desire is motivated by other neurotic needs. There are four different causes of sexual desire:
(1) the anxiety of loneliness;
(2) the wish to conquer or be conquered;
(4) the wish to hurt or even to destroy.
Faulty sex education or unhealthy sex attitudes learned in childhood are frequent sources of trouble. The client is often helped by facing the feelings that these early experiences developed within him. Frequently, if the counselor gives specific sex information, he can rectify problems based on misinformation or lack of knowledge. In the process of sex education, the counselor can be reassuring and helpful by giving specific information, although it is important that he make the client realize that it is not faulty information but distorted attitudes that are the seat of the real trouble. If not carefully used, the sex manual approach can be grossly misleading.
It is important that during premarital counseling the counselor impart an understanding of the relation of sex to love. In order to complete a human relationship, it may be said that biological desire must be joined with love. A common social value we have inherited is that sex is one means of expressing love. This means that unless both elements are present, there is a psychic prostitution; this interpretation suggests that there is often much of this type of prostitution in many marriage relationships. When present it tends to have a destructive effect on the personalities involved.
Many marriages these days end in separation or divorce. There is nothing more painful, frustrating and stressful than a relationship that is breaking down.
Counseling Session is to provide you with advice & guidance on your Marriage, Relationships or future love life plans. We will be responded to queries relating to romance, dating, sex, marriages, cheating partners, affairs, office romances, incest and date rapes.
The Marriage Counseling you receive in the first session will relate to awareness & analysis of your relationships in life. For couples, it will open up your relationship with your partner so you can understand yourself & your spouse better.
Marriage counseling involves talk therapy whereby you & your spouse open up about your relationship problems with expert guidance from the Marriage Counselor. Thereafter, pieces are slowly made to fit together as you grow deeper into the understanding of how your relationships really function and what really causes problems. Self reflection is an important part of the Marriage counseling process. As you open up more, revealing some of your unconscious state you will notice clarity in your thinking as far as your relationships are concerned. The more you explore your relationships, the more will be your understanding. At last it can be said that communication is one of the core issues in Marriage counseling. With a counselor you will learn to communicate with more confidence and effectiveness.